Monday, July 5, 2010

Summer of Speed : retrospective

So what happened to my summer of speed! I mentioned it, then never wrote another word about it, or much of anything else. Well, in one sense it went unexpectedly well. I was able to break my old 5K pr at the Gilio 5K in May. That PR--17:35--actually came from at an away dual meet. Bloomfield, maybe? Anyway, looking back on it, I don't think all those high school XC courses were wheeled out very carefully--if I were really picky I'd probably have to give the honor to one of my old times at Wickham: 17:53, I think--but I'm not really picky; that was just a rambling aside about why some of my old PRs are the least squishy.

Writing that made me nostalgic for Wickham Park. I can practically smell that burned-grease odor that always permeated the top of the pavement hill from the nearby concessionary. I bet thousands of kids who raced there can remember the same thing.

.... Hm, right, Summer of Speed. The 5K went well. I wasn't really sure what to do next. I didn't quite feel enthusiastic about digging around for another 5K flat enough to challenge my track PR (17:08, thanks for asking). Then I ran the club handicap mile and damn near yakk'd (my own damn fault. Damn afternoon races--it's like the only race I do in the afternoon all year. I totally forget how to eat beforehand).

That pretty much takes me to the last race: the Bridgton 4 on the 4th. It always astounds me to see 1800 people all toeing the line in the middle of small-town Maine. But maybe it shouldn't surprise me--the race is well run, and the town is always hopping that time of year. The course, however, is not easy. Not trail-race hilly, of course, but still--you need to respect that first hill, and you need to be thinking about the rollers on Dugway, or they will EAT you (I am sorry to be reporting from personal experience, here).

Yesterday's rendition went over much differently. I was a bit worried at the start that I hadn't got enough water, as it was shaping up to be hot, and there was none at the line. A lot of high school kids and campers come out for this race, so there was a fair bit of horseplay and clowning around in the parking lot adjacent to the race start. I skulked around in the shade as best I could and tried not to think about being thirsty. Props to the two guys (girls?) dressed up in full-body duck suits--those things must have been wicked hot.

We were thoroughly anthemed before the RD handed over the starting pistol and set us to our marks. The shot rang and we were off. Almost immediately, a pleasant surprise. The heavy feeling in my legs disappeared, and along with it the doubtful boy-I-wish-I-had-studied-for-this-test sense that came from two pretty so-so weeks of training. I felt good. I knew I could run the flat opener much harder, but I picked my own pace and ran it confidently.

I don't remember having to think about the hills, which is always the best way to do them. Mainly I remember carrying my strength into the last mile, passing a guy, he catching up again; kicking--just a little too early!--fading off behind me as I crossed the line.

A good race, a personal CR by 20 seconds. As usual, when I finish a race with a little vim left, I have to wonder if I could have run harder. The price of running a controlled race, perhaps?

I am closing the book on my summer of speed for 2010, although it's certainly too early to write off the possibility of a 2011 edition. Now it's time to start thinking about Applefest, and then Baystate Marathon. Next calendar race: Marshfield 20K (speaking of squishy prs...)