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.

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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.

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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.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbbmZ0ZUUQs&safety_mode=true&persist_safety_mode=1[/youtube]

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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.

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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.

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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.

Prerace Jitters

I don’t generally get nervous before road races anymore, although, track races still get me a bit flustered, I think that is because in 1 mile race there is no room for error and everyone can see you the whole time.  Road races, even short ones like 5k’s give you an opportunity to correct many mistakes throughout the course of the race.  The longer the race, the more I think you can correct for mistakes, expect for 1… going out to fast.  That means in my upcoming half marathon getting my pacing correct from the start is critically important.

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On Sunday May 1st I am racing the Flower City Half Marathon in Rochester, NY.  This will be my first half since I crashed and burned at the Dutchess County Classic back in September.  I was so disappointed in my performance at that race I didn’t even bother to write a race report.  That was before I was diagnosed with asthma, and was still struggling to get enough sleep (Hazel is a much better sleeper now that she is 13 months).  I have been running better the last 6 months than I ever have, and despite my overall mileage not being what I might like I can safely say I am in the best running shape of my life.  So why the prerace jitters?  One word, EXPECTATIONS.   If I don’t think I can do well at something, I dont’ get too fused about it.  When I have high expections for myself that is when the nerves really kick in, and I think I can crush my old 1:18:53 half marathon PR on Sunday.

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Now I just need to get through the next 36 or so hours until Sunday morning.   Once the gun goes off there are no nerves there is just the race.

NCA Water for Sudan 5 Miler

They may not have enough water in southern Sudan, but there was plenty of water falling all Friday night into Saturday morning here in Rochester.  I had to bring up some weather maps to show Lisa that I wasn’t crazy and that the storm fronts would be pushed through by the time the race started at 9:30.  Whether it was going to be raining or not, I was still heading out to Greece to run in the 3rd annual NCA Water for Sudan 5 mie race.  I had after all already paid my $20 and there was a $100 winners check to be had.  I was actually thinking the harder it rained the better as it might keep away some of the competition.

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When I registered for this race I was thinking it would be a chance to PR, and break 27:00 minutes.  It was clear as I headed out to the race that a PR was going to be out of the question.  The wind was a steady 20 mph, and the rain that did clear out had left the 3 mile stretch on the Erie Canal Trail full of puddles and very soft dirt.  Remember that 9:30 start I mentioned?  As I picked up my number I saw a race flier and found out the race started at 9:00, which meant I had 20 minutes to get warmed up and too the line.  Add to that the fact a nose bleed that started when I first woke up had sprung a leak again, and things were not looking all the hopeful.  I shoved a big wad of toilet paper up my nose and head out for a quick warm up.  Normally I would run 20 minutes very slowly before a race, change into my racing gear and then do 4-6×150 strides just before the start of a race.  Today I had to cut that down to a fairly quick 10 minute run and 4×100 meter strides.  Thankfully there was no blood pouring out of my nose, but the toilet paper was definitely soaked in blood.

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As I got in place at the starting line I recognized a few of the high school kids from the Daniel’s 5k, along with some regular middle of the packers, but no one else that normally toes the line at local races.  I was expecting Dave Rappleyea, who won the race last year to make an appearance.  I was hoping to draft off him for a mile or 2 before he left me in the dust but that was not to be.  After a quick prayer the air horn blasted and we took off.  As usual one of the higher schools bolted to the front and I happily tucked in behind him as the first mile was on a stretch of road dead into the wind heading to the canal path.  I wasn’t sure if his weaving was an attempt to prevent me from drafting of it the wind was just blowing him all over the road.  In either case I stayed behind him for about 800 meters until another runner surged to the front and I ducked in behind him.  This new runner did not look like a high school kid and the 2 of us quick pulled away from the rest of the field.  I was later to find out his name was Cory he is 32 years old a 2:34 marathoner (as of 2010) and just in town visiting family for the weekend.

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We wound up a short hill and headed west on the canal trail.  At this point the southern wind should have been a cross wind, but for some reason a cross wind always feels like it is blowing into you.  Me and Cory traded places a few several times as we headed down the 1.5 mile stretch of canal to the turn around.  I can’t tell you want our mile splits were, because along with not knowing the starting time of the race, and getting a blood nose, I always forgot my watch.  I think it was probably for the best because at this point I was just running for place and knowing we had just run about a 5:50 mile probably wouldn’t have made me feel any better.  We had a bit of chit chat just before and after the turn around.  I had a feeling he was testing me out to see if I was capable of chatting, so i did my best to sound relaxed.  At 2.5 miles into the race I was in fact feeling fairly comfortable, but the pace did begin to quicken.  Cory began really pushing the pace around mile 3 and was staying a few second ahead of me.  At this point I was content to just not let him put a real gap on me.

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At mile 4 we dropped back down the little hill to the road, and I was thankful to be done weaving around small lakes, and to have something solid to push off of.  It was at this point that I think I made a tactical error.  With the wind now firmly at our backs I made a strong move, caught and passed Cory and might have opened up a 2 second lead at most.  Less than 100 meters later Cory was back in front and I was paying for my surge.  I fell 4 second behind him as we rounded a corner and caught site of the finish line less than 300 meters away.  I did my very best Bekele and for the briefest of moments thought I was going to win, but I needed another 20 yards.  I finished .21 seconds behind Cory in a time of 27:27:93 which is my 3rd fastest 5 mile time.  In hind sight, I think if I hadn’t challenged Cory early in the last mile but instead just ran a few meters behind him the whole time I could have taken him down in the last 300 meters.  Not knowing at the time what kind of runner he was, I had to do what I thought was best at the time, and it didn’t workout.  I didn’t win $100 but I ran a very solid race, and did win 2 free subs.

Parkinson Canal Race Report (Chanse)

The morning of the Parkinson’s Canal Run 5k was not treating me well. The race was at 10am and I woke up at 7am feeling awful. I didn’t pre-register for the race because I was still unsure if I was going to run. I had a great track workout on Wednesday and since then I was feeling pretty tired. Also, that workout seemed to have tightened up my IT band. I went through my usually race day routine anyways just because I thought I might just need to wake up. I debated with myself from 7 to 9 then just decided what the hell, I am going to have to run today anyways. I tossed everything up to race day nerves and left.
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Driving to the park was very pleasant. The weather was looking pretty nice and my car said that it was in the 40’s. So I thought that this might be a pretty nice day to race. When I got to the park I realized just how wrong I was about the weather. I stepped out of my car and almost got knocked back in from the wind. This didn’t help with how I was feeling about the race. I finally decided to register and was happy to get myself a new shirt. I did my warm up while keeping an eye out for the newest RKR member, Matt Roberts. He mentioned that he was running this race earlier in the week.
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Matt spotted me at the starting line and we chatted a bit while waiting for the race organizers to prepare. Seeing someone I know instantly made me feel better about being in the race. Also, Matt was going to be aiming for the same pace that I was which meant that I should have someone to run with. Once the race organizers were ready, we toed the line. As for competition, Matt and I only recognized Jeff Beck.
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The first 800m felt easy. There were about 4 or 5 of us in a very tight group. Matt and I were surprised that Beck didn’t start with a commanding lead. Matt decided to take the lead for a bit, but this just resulted in Beck quickly overtaking him and then Beck proceeded to put a large gap between him and the group. After the race Matt told me that he felt the start was too slow and wanted to make it more of a race. Shortly after Beck took the lead, I caught up to Matt and we also separated ourselves from the group.
At about 1200m we turned onto the canal trail. This is where I first realized how bad the wind really was. Once we turned, the wind going across the canal pushed me over more than I expected and I almost tripped over my own feet. I had to do my best to adjust to the strong crosswind. The wind on the canal trail was changing a bit. Sometimes there would be strong gusts from the side, but most of the time it was slightly to our backs which made this part of the course relatively nice. Matt and I crossed the first mile at 5:23.
After about 1.5miles we turned off of the canal trail and this is where I started to lose Matt. He pulled ahead a few steps and I just tried to hold on. Then shortly before the 2mile mark was the worst turn in the race. We turned onto a side street that seemed to be acting as a very effective wind tunnel. I felt myself slow instantly. Matt then crossed the 2mile mark a few seconds before me and I clocked my mile time at 5:22. I was very happy with that, but also knew that the wind on the canal trail probably helped.
This last mile was brutal. The course is approximately an out and back loop and sadly the back part would be straight into the wind. Besides the wind tunnel that we were running through, there was nothing too eventful until we neared the finish. Matt decided to take a little detour out towards a misplaced cone in the last half mile. He definitely lost a few seconds there but he already had a pretty good lead on me. The sprint to the finish was terrible. We were running straight into the wind across a very open parking lot. I made an attempt at sprinting but I didn’t really seem to speed up so I just ran it in.
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Usually after saying I ran two 5:20 splits I would report a time under 17min. The final time was actually 17:25, which would make my third mile right around 6min (I didn’t see the 3rd mile marker for my split). I don’t think I have ever had such a large drop in my mile pace for a 5k, but that wind was tough. Overall, I was glad that I decided to run the race. This was my first 5k of the year and I felt that it went well. Matt seemed pretty happy with his time as well, but I felt bad for him because it sounded like he was going to have to do another tempo in the afternoon for his marathon training. This year RKR took 2nd and 3rd, with Matt at 17:15 and me at 17:25.
Also, just as an additional note on how the weather was that day, I am pretty sure it was colder by the end of the race. As Matt and I stepped into our cars it began snowing a lot without warning. This mini snow storm lasted for about 10 seconds. I was very confused and from the look on Matt’s face he seemed confused/surprised as well.