Last night I struck out on a double challenge: first, to complete Razz's Global Warming, My Ass! 6.66 Mile Run; and second, to piggyback an Elevens workout after the race to do my best to best Barefoot Josh in the combined events.
In the comments to my Monday post, BFJ said he wouldn't be going for time. Even still, I knew it would be difficult to win this challenge. His Elevens are twice as fast as mine, so my only chance was to make up time on the run. That too is a tall order.
Josh's race stats are also quite a bit faster than mine, except his marathon PR (4:18:10, according to his blog) and his recent "not trying" 10-K were slower than my bests. However, I'm nowhere near my best shape. Would my out-of-shape pace be enough to beat his not-trying pace?
For the race course, I picked Sand Run, a familiar path, but one that is hilly, soggy and uneven. And I started this run as the sun was setting, so add darkness to the mix. The Sand Run path is six miles out and back, but it's easy to tack on mileage after the turnaround by continuing on Sand Run Parkway after the park path ends.
I had one rule for this race: Keep my strides short. I'm working on my turnover and forefoot landing, but I have a tendency to revert to longer strides when I'm pushing the pace. I wanted to see if I could run fast with tiny, girlie steps.
The continuing thaw has cleared all the snow and ice from the Sand Run path, but the crushed limestone surface was spongy under foot from the added moisture. I tried to start off too fast like in a real race and see if I could hold on to the pace throughout my run.
Before the first half-mile, I caught up to a man running with his dog. As I approached, the dog stopped to write its name in the snowbank next to the path. They started up again as soon as I passed, and I could hear them nipping at my heals. This was the motivation I needed. I kept my legs churning in miniature circles and pulled away from the pair.
Mile 1: 8:29.46
I crossed Sand Run creek and rounded the bend after the bridge to start the second mile, where the rolling hills begin. I pretended to climb a tall staircase with shallow steps, hammering up the hills and flying down as if I were trying to stay on top of a rolling barrel.
Mile 2: 9:30.6
The second half of the third mile is all uphill and requires two road crossings. I flew across the first crosswalk, but had to wait for cars at the second. My impatience got me charged up to tackle the long climb to Revere Road, where the park path ends.
Mile 3: 9:55.42
Here's where things got tricky. As you should know by now, I refuse to use a Garmin or any other GPS device. I often extend runs at Sand Run to eight miles by continuing into the residential area beyond the park path, and I also know the turnaround point for a seven-miler. But this was supposed to be a 6.66-miler.
I used MapMyRun.com to determine the 0.33-mile turnaround point, which was roughly at the end of a yard. There, I pressed the lap button on my watch and continued to the turnaround for an even seven miles. On the way back, I marked the 0.33-mile point again and timed myself back to the park.
I knew that where I pressed my lap button for the 0.33-mile mark was a little off. To get the proper time for 0.66 miles, I used the average between the combined time I had for that 0.33-mile stretch (6:04.25), the time for the entire fourth mile (9:06.98), my pace for the prior three miles to see what I was running up until then (9:18), and my pace for the whole run (9:05). The result is a 9:10 mile pace.
Mile 3.66: 6:03.25
I failed to mention that the darkness gave me trouble seeing the street signs that served as my mile markers during that fourth mile. I turned around too early once, realized my mistake and turned around again. After all that confusion, I was ready to get back to the park path, where I hammered down that long hill.
Mile 4.66: 8:38.5
The darkness was starting to play tricks on me now. My eyes were as wide as they could go, but exertion was forcing oxygen to other parts of my body, causing the edges of my vision to blur and distort. Shadows turned beastly. Passing cars blinded me with their headlights, and I bent double to see the edge of the path so I wouldn't fall into the ditch.
Mile 5.66: 8:53.92
My running form was starting to unravel. It became more difficult to take baby steps, as I wanted to let my legs loose. But I knew the focus on turnover was resulting in my fastest run of the year. I redoubled my concentration and took even smaller strides to the finish.
Mile 6.66: 9:02.32
I finished the run at a decent 1:00:33.47, but that wasn't the end of this challenge. I still needed to knock out a fast Elevens workout, completing 55 push-ups and 55 sit-ups. All in good form. And if possible, without Dobson tackling me.
When I got home from Sand Run, I asked the Enthusiast to distract the dog while she also cooked and cleaned. (Was that asking for too much?) The strategy worked for the first few sets, and I was sure I was on pace for a record-setting Elevens. But then Dobson caught a glimpse of all the fun I was having.
The pooch rushed over to join me as I was in the middle of some push-ups, helpless to his tongue lashings. I rolled over to perform some sit-ups and tried to ignore the giant paws batting at my head. "Dobson, stop bothering daddy while he tortures himself," the Enthusiast pleaded. But it was too late. My Elevens had him wound up, and my record was gone.
Elevens: 8:28 flat
The post-race spread was far better than any I've had at other events. There was salmon, marinated in a pineapple teriyaki sauce, rice with chicken flavor, and a lightly sauteed summer squash. To rehydrate, Redemption wine from Wolf Creek Winery. For dessert, lime Jell-O with pineapple and maraschino cherries. All in all a successful evening. But did I win?
GW,MA!6.66MR: 1:00:33.47 (9:05 pace)
I think this virtual race report is longer than most of my real race reports ...