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Playing Ketchup

Playing Ketchup

What did the fast tomato say to the slow tomato? Catch up!

As I am want to do, I have neglected the blog for far too long and know I have to get caught up.

I’ll start on a positive note.  I won the Daniel’s 5k for the 3rd time in 3 tries (though not in consecutive years).  The people who organize the Daniel’s 5k (Daniel’s parents and friends) do a wonderful job of putting on the race every year.

The Daniel’s course is mostly an out and back with a lap around the track at the finish.  Most years miles .5-1.5 are into a very strong headwind, and this year was no exception.  I started out slowly and ran the first half mile behind a 12-year-old sprinter, then I ran the next mile behind the guy in the Yellowjacket Racing singlet.  He was doing some fancy zigging and zagging so I couldn’t draft off him, but I just held my line and plowed along behind him until the turn around.  I hit the halfway point in about 9 minutes and then took off with the wind and closed the race in about 8 minutes.  I finished in 17:02 which isn’t a very good time for me but was 40 second better than the next guy so I’ll take it.  Results here.

I did another “5k” this past weekend but it was such a poorly run race, both by me and the organizers that I don’t even want to name it.  I’ll just give the low lights.

  • advertised as a 5 mile and a 5k race
  • Arrived at race to find the maps said 4.8 miles and 3.5 miles
  • Races were actually 4.75 miles and 3.3 miles
  • No traffic control on the 5 mile despite part of the race running through downtown Poughkeepsie
  • Race started 10 minutes late
  • Made to stand on the line for 15 minutes (called to line 5 of 9 didn’t start running until 10 after 9)
  • 5 mile race started 50 meters behind 5k race so the fast 5 mile runners slammed into the back of the slow 5k runners/walkers after about 10 seconds

This was easily the worst organized race I’ve ever run and it was supposed to be my final race of the Spring season.  I’m now hoping to squeeze in one more 5k before the baby comes but we will see.  My allergies are so bad right now that there probably isn’t any point in trying to race anyway.

First race in Annapolis: Anniversary 15K Run

First race in Annapolis: Anniversary 15K Run

Since moving to Maryland in late July, I haven’t done much racing. I had only entered two competitions and both of them were XC races in the Rochester area.


My training has gone fairly well over the past few months, but without the company of training partners, I’ve had a tough time on the track with quality interval (or faster) workouts. I have managed to consistently run some very strong long runs (capped off by a 14 miler at 5:56 per mile on Dec 3rd) and some solid continuous tempo runs. These longer efforts permitted a fair amount of confidence heading into the 15K on Dec 11th.


The race was held at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. The course was nicely laid out. It was essentially a two-loop course on a paved bike trail with many winding turns and quick rolling hills, which were favorably distracting and challenging. Given the $10 entry fee, I was surprised to find top-notch race organization, timing, course marking, and post-race amenities. Both the 10am start and the weather were perfect: low 40s, sunny, and calm.


The Start


The race went off right on time. I immediately settled into a comfortable pace, and I felt great–light and bouncy. I’ve been running my tempos and long runs with negative splits, so that was my tentative plan for today (tentative because I’d also key off how the competition played out). I estimated a 5:40 pace, and there was one set of footsteps right behind me. I split the first mile in a surprisingly fast 5:22, but I decided not to lay off the gas too much because of the other runner just a few steps back.


The next four miles flew by at a pace I’ve only been able to maintain for a 10K distance or shorter: 5:38, 5:30, 5:33, 5:32. The steps behind me seemed to fade agonizingly slowly, as the quick pace gradually became more grueling. As I came through the 5 mile in 27:35, I encountered a “lolli-pop” part of the course that allowed a peek at the nearest competition. The next runner was about 10 seconds back, at most.




Miles 6 and 7 were awful. Apparently the 30 minute mark is where the 5:30 pace becomes enormously difficult for me. Every uphill section destroyed me and every downhill was troubling because I knew I had to push it in order to not fall off the pace too atrociously. The lactic acid that was building  in my calves and quads had caught up to me, although my breathing was not terribly labored. I didn’t note the splits for those two miles, but they couldn’t have been much better than six-minute miles. Even worse, the footsteps that had slowly faded over the first five miles were back, closer than ever!


I started to feel somewhat of a second-wind coming into the eighth mile (partially due to some recovery during the previous two slow miles and some timely downhill sections that permitted easy cruising). I split mile eight in 5:40, which was not as big a relief as the fact that the footsteps seemed to have faded once again. There was just one more hard mile (plus .3) between me and victory. I started “hammering” as much as is possible with such heavy legs. The ninth mile had lots of twists and turns and concluded with the steepest uphill climb on the course (welcome to the last .3 miles!), but I managed a 5:35 split. I couldn’t hear the footsteps anymore, so the last .3 were relatively stress-free. I almost missed the turn into the finish and had to back-track a few steps (it was not marked and the course volunteers weren’t in position yet), so I’m going adjust my official 52:40 finish time into an unofficial 52:38. I was definitely ready to stop running, as seen below:


The Finish - Not my best look


It was nice to score a race victory (results here), and especially sweet that it was my first race here in town. 52:38 is a 40-second PR for the 15K distance, which bumped off my time from the March 2010 Spring Forward 15K in Mendon Ponds Park. Now I just need to translate some of this fitness into speed to make a run at a 5K PR in 2012.

Flower City Half Marathon Race Report

Flower City Half Marathon Race Report

A strange phenomena often occurs in my racing.  When I run a personal record, it has seemed almost too easy.  Sunday at the Flower City Half Marathon was no exception.  Let me back up to 2 months ago, when I wasn’t even sure if I was going to run this race.  At the beginning of March we were still dragging our way through the long Rochester winter, and while I had been feeling good about my workouts I didn’t feel like I had the mileage base to race a half marathon.  I spent the whole month going back and forth until finally sending in my application for the half at the end of March.  It turns out it was a good choice.  Despite the fact I averaged just 40-50 mpw over the last few weeks (my log) I believe the quality of my workouts made up for the lack of quantity.


Race day started early at the Perks’ house, with Hazel waking up with me at 5:00 a.m.  Apparently she want to see both the start and finish of the race not just the finish as was the original plan.  I left the house at 6 a.m. after eating half a cream cheese bagel, 4 bites of yogurtand drinking half a cup of tea.  I arrived with more than hour to kill before the start of the race and had a chance to talk with a few of the other runners I knew would be up front in the race, namely Dave Rappleyea who was hoping to finish in the money after his solid performance at the Spring Forward 15k.  I ran into Matt Roberts, the newest RKR member in the parking lot, and gave him Mike Insler’s racing singlet because we haven’t had a chance to get him his own.  We did a light warmup about 30 minutes before the start of the race and then headed up to the bridge to start the race.


The race started with a quick down hill off the Broad Street Bridge and before we even got 400 meters into the race a lead pack of 6 runners had already opened up a sizeable gap.  The lead pack included Rochester regulars: Mark Andrews, Jeff Beck, Dave Rappleyea, Dave Bradshaw, and 2 out of towners I didn’t know Todd Meyer and Steven Ryan.  You can see the start in this video.  The lead runners appear again about 2 miles into the race 2 minutes and 50 seconds into the video.


Early in the race I was trying my best to stay relaxed and to keep the pace even and under control.  Keeping the pace even wasn’t working well as I ran 5:52, 5:28, 6:11, 5:34 but the effort was very steady, it was just the rolling nature of the course that was throwing the pace all over.  Although we didn’t discuss it before hand, a little before 3 miles into the race Matt came up along side me and I told him he could tuck in behind for a bit me as the next 4 miles were going to be into a slight but steady head wind.  We took turns drafting off eachother as we cruised down East Avenue and Park.  We passed Mike who was waiting at the 5 mile mark in 28:51 5:46 pace.  Things were going great so far, but we were about to hit the Highland Park section of the race.  As the name implies it was about to get hilly.  A little past 10k the hills started in earnest and for the first time it began to feel like work.


My hope was to stay under 6 minute pace miles 7 and 8, so as soon as I got to the first long hill I turned up the effort and I could feel Matt sliding back.  Mile 7 marked the top of the first big hill in the park and I was greeted by a large group of drummers and a 6:01 split… close enough I thought.  After a brief down hill rest the race turned into Mount Hope Cemetery.  Coach Rief of GVH was at the entrance and told me I had a decent lead on the next runner.  I knew it was Matt behind me so I tried to explain I wasn’t worried about him because he was on my team.  I’m honestly not really sure what I said though, hopefully nothing rude.  The race wound around through the cemeteryfor about 2.5 miles and as we snaked our way along I noticed I was begining to close on one of the runners who went out with the lead pack.  That, combined, with splitting mile 8 in 5:59 gave me a huge mental boost.  I was now clear of all the signifigant hills and my only thought was I felt great and it was now a 5 mile down hill race.  Each time the 6th place runner glance over his shoulder I pushed harder.  I passed him just as we exited the cemetery at mile 10.  It was great to see Ryan Pauling at the 10 mile marker offering encouragement.


I came through mile 10 in a time of 58:09 and I thought for the first time I could break 1:16:00.  Up to that point I my thoughts had just been on running a smart race and getting to the top of the hills with something left in my legs.  I was spured on to a 5:43 next mile, and this ridiculous grin as I ran past Chanse at the 11 mile mark.

I don’t think anyone is suppose to look that happy 11 miles into a half marathon.  All I could think about now as breaking 1:16:00, a time that I didn’t tell anyone before the race I was hoping to hit.  Mike Insler had made his way over to the 12 mile mark, or just shy of the 12 mile mark, and seemed a bit shocked by my time and by the fact I start chatting with him as I ran by.  Did I mention I was feeling really good?  Mile 12 1:09:40.  Now all I needed to do was run 5:47 the pace I had been averging all race and I would break 1:16:00.  I ran the last mile in 5:37 to finish in 6th place with a time of 1:15:51Results here.

Matt Roberts also had a great race.  He ran a huge PR and finished in 8th place with a time of 1:16:43.  Now we just need to get him his own singlet.

I shattered my old pr of 1:18:52 by over 3 minutes.  I didn’t stagger to the finish line like I had done in all my past half marathons.  I think I need to send my Dr. a big thank you gift for helping me with my asthma.

I also need to thank all the people who were out on the course cheering on me and the other runners.  The course brought us through many of the great neighborhoods and parks in Rochester and fan support was incredible all 13.1 miles of the race.