"Race" report: 2019 UW-Stout Jamie Block alumni meet

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      Given the summer I had (referenced in my Hootie Hustle race report) and the fact that I was only a week removed from Hootie Hustle and 2 weeks out from Al’s Run, I needed to figure out what I was going to do with this race this year.

      Adding to the uncertainty, my weak point right now is the calf and the first and last miles of this race are through a park with soft and uneven terrain, brutal on the calves.

      The first thing I did in preparing for this race was not even pack my racing shoes. I was going to run this in my trainers to protect the legs a bit. The second thing I decided on was to not race the first and last miles all out. Just too risky. I’d push the middle 2 miles somewhere between hard tempo effort and race effort but I’d be conservative in the first mile and careful in the last mile.

      I also decided to modify my warmup since this would be more like a tempo run than a race. I just ran 3 miles easy and did some stretching.

      At the start, I basically started in the back of the pack. I’m not sure how many people were behind me at any point in the first half mile or so but it wasn’t many. However, the key was that I survived the first trip through the park with no damage, cruising through the mile in 6:36.

      By the second mile, we were on a bike trail that is much more friendly to a less than 100% calf. I was feeling good, running with confidence, and had a multiple NCAA champion 10+ years younger than me not far ahead. So I set my sights on him and the guys he was running with. I gradually pulled them back in, then went by saying something like “not to embarrass you guys but you’re getting passed by an old guy” just to give them a hard time (hey, we’re all family, gotta rib the guys a bit). I felt like I was pulling away but not sure how quickly.

      As it turns out, I ran mile 2 in 6:08. Maybe a little hot. Maybe I got away chasing down the champ. I was feeling it a bit but I was also still on solid ground and feeling reasonably well so I kept on the gas. However, I could tell I was slowing and the guys I passed came back on me. As the champ went by, I said “that was fun while it lasted” and he encouraged me to go with but I just didn’t have it. No way I could keep up with the pace he was now setting. I did my best to run with or ahead of a couple other guys and just held it together through the 3 mile, in 6:27. Hey, I at least kept it under 6:30.

      Into mile 4. This mile begins on good footing before re-entering the park and the sketchy footing out there. I had someone close ahead of me I was trying to work on but I just couldn’t close. As we entered the park, I knew my chances of catching him dwindled to nearly zero but I wanted to at least stay as close as possible as my legs would allow because I could tell there were a couple guys not far behind. The legs seemed mostly willing so I was cautiously aggressive out there but I could tell I was slowing. Fortunately, while I was expectedly not gaining on the guy in front, nobody seemed to be breathing down my neck and that’s how I went through the finish. I didn’t catch anyone but nobody passed me.

      I ended up finishing 38th in 26:07. Not a spectacular run but I finished healthy and I beat two freshmen, meaning I still have never been beaten by the entire team. I’ll call that a success for this year’s event.

      The alumni

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