Tuesday, July 04, 2006


Today was the Firecracker Half-Marathon. I didn't run it, being conservative coming back from the calf problems. I was disappointed, but I think it was the right thing to do. I had been looking at that race as a condition check, but it just didn't work out.

There was an 8k as well, so I ran that. I ended up second overall behind the same high school kid that edged me out at the Veteran's Day race last November. The race went well overall. It felt more difficult than the 5k I ran back in April, and it was slower by comparison. High School Kid is about a month out from the finish of the track season, when he ran a 9:46 two mile, so he had speed to burn and he showed it at the start. His first mile was around 4:58, gapping me by 18 seconds. I guess I should have done some striders.

The gap was the same at mile two, where we each ran a 5:25. In hindsight, I should have gone after him here for a few seconds. There is a decent uphill in this mile of the course, though, so that may have bitten me at the end.

At the turnaround, the kid asked me if I was running the 8k or the half. Of course I'm running the 8k! I'm right behind you. Would it make you feel better if I was running the half marathon at 5:20 pace? Anyway, I could see he was worried, and sure enough, mile three was 5:17 for me, and another 5:25 for him as the gap shrunk to 10 seconds. About this time he also started looking back every 50-100 meters. It was absolutely infuriating. I hate it when people look back...or I should say I love it because it pisses me off and gets me fired up.

It didn't work this time, though. Mile four passed in 5:33. In addition to going back over the hill, I was rigging up. My shins did that lock up thing I have described before, but only to about 50% of the intensity I'm used to. High school kid was having problems of his own, and must have run about a 5:35, because now I was within striking distance.

I slowly closed the gap from eight seconds to six then six to four. He kept looking back and I stayed right there. I could feel him putting in little surges each time he looked back, and in the end it was too much. With just under half a mile to go, he stretched the gap slightly. I tried to go, but I was spent. All I could manage was the steady pace that I had going. No speed for me today. He put another two seconds on me in the last quarter mile, throwing down a 5:17 to my 5:19, finishing in 27:18 to my 27:27.

The course, as usual for podunk races in podunk towns, was not measured correctly. It ended up being 5.09 miles, as opposed to 8k or 4.96 miles. I passed the actual 8k mark at about 26:44, which was about what I expected to be ready to run.

I personally enjoy the McMillan calculator. I find it to be very accurate for race equivalents, so I use it often in planning. It shows 26:44 for 8k to be equal to a 16:11 5k, which suggests I have lost a small degree of fitness since the end of April. I would tend to agree. I just haven't been able to get the long runs or the mileage in the way I had prior to April. However, I didn't taper for this race like I had been able to for the April race, and I wore trainers instead of flats today to protect the calves somewhat. In that sense, the performances were about equal. I guess holding on to what fitness I had is better than losing it and having to rebuild.

The calculator also suggests that today's race equates to a 2:37:xx marathon, and I believe I am in sub-2:40 shape at this point, so I'll buy that as well. I've got 87 days to do what work I can to whittle that down to the 2:33-2:34 range, and I'll have a couple of test races along the way to see how I'm doing. Including at least one more against High School Kid. He owns me right now.


Blogger Mike

Nice race Eric, I'm sure HSK's days are numbered. Slowing down where you did may indeed indicate a little bit of lost endurance, but as you saide yourself taking a break from the long run and being forced to swallow chlorine instead of bugs for a few weeks will do that.

I gotta ask though...for a guy who hasn't been doing any intensity and is coming back from an injury brought on in part by a short, anaerobic race-why is the 8K safer than the 1/2 marathon? If you had mentioned these races on the blog I think I would have voted for the 1/2, given your recent comfortable 15 miler at a solid pace and the fact that a good 70-75 minute effort would still keep you pretty much aerobic.

Plus, isn't your 1/2 marathon PR like 2 hours or something?

Nice race regardless, make sure you recover a bit.

7/05/2006 06:29:00 AM  
Blogger Eric

I wasn't worried about the stress of the race. More the recovery aspect of it. It would take me probably 4-5 days to recover from a hard half-marathon, and about one day to recover from the 8k. Although I would see the half as being more stressful due to the additional muscle damage, cramping potential, etc. The 8k caused me not much more stress than a typical tempo run, and my legs feel really good today. Knock on wood.

Yes, my half marathon PR is rotting on the vine. Maybe I should change that one to ?:??:?? too.

You're telling me to recover? Maybe I can give you some voice lessons. Ha! No worries. Three miles in 21 minutes this morning, maybe a second easy run later, maybe not.

7/05/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger Greg

Nice job Eric. I get really annoyed with these high school kids too with their 5K-8K specific training. At least you made him sweat a little bit.

A few more striders and I'm fairly certain you would have shaved the necessary 10 seconds off to be victorious. It's all about the striders.

7/05/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Wayne

12 weeks should be enough training to get the time down. You should be on your way to a good marathon.

7/05/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Fatboy

I had the same question as Mike - why speed over distance when nursing an injury?

I hope the recovery has been positive. If you indeed handled the race with minimal damage, you should be able to start incorporating regular sessions of higher intensity into your regime. It's the aerobic threshold stuff, combined with consistent long runs, that really helps drop your "comfort pace."

7/06/2006 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Eric

Keep in mind 'speed' is a relative term. My max speed was probably 4:50 pace for the last 200 meters. Otherwise it was 5:15-5:30 pace. I've done a couple of long tempos around 5:30-5:40 pace since coming out of the pool, so it wasn't a big stretch.

I really think a half at 5:45 pace would have been more stressful and required several days of recovery. I just didn't see it as worth the risk or the time spent recovering to run a slow half. If I could have done a 1:13, maybe a different story.

Anyway, things are going well. I did 17 this morning in 1:43:15 (6:04s) and the legs are feeling great. Not a whimper from the calves. More about that later. Don't want to waste a blog entry on a comment!

Thanks for the questions/concern, guys.

7/06/2006 10:43:00 AM  

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