- April 26, 2010 at 3:03 pm #12021
I wanted to return to this race after winning it last year. After winning a race, I usually feel the draw to make a return trip in order to defend the title. This is a well run race, it's a 10K (it's hard to find that distance around here it seems like), and while I was able to win last year, it has good competition that ensures that I will be pushed even if I can win. So I found myself back in Brown Deer Saturday morning to defend the title. Of course, as I was telling people ahead of time, the results of my title defense efforts will hinge more on who shows up than anything I do unless I do something stupid.
There were a couple of things that happened pre-race that were somewhat notable but I didn't let them affect me. First, at registration, I was waiting at the 10K registration area when someone called me over to the 5K registration area. I specifically asked twice that I would be registered in the 10K and not the 5K and both times was assured that I would. After registration, I returned to my car to sit in it and stay warm until my warmup time when a Ford Excursion backed into the space next to me with the tailpipe just inches from my car and left the engine running. After inhaling the carbon monoxide for a bit and making it clear to the owners of the monstrosity parked next to me that I was breathing their fumes to no avail, I ended up moving. Annoying people but I didn't let it get to me. I had more important things to worry about.
I had a pretty uneventful warmup with Ted Shue, Rick Stefanovic, and Kane Baker. Saw some others, including a big problem in my hopes of winning again, Jerry Husz. Well, as I stated last year when I was the winner, you race who shows up. This is how road races are. Sometimes, the big guns show up and you take what you can get. Other times, they don’t and you can battle it out for the win. I’m not going to concede before the gun even goes off but I know at this point that my chances just decreased significantly.
At the start, Jerry was out, as well as someone I didn’t recognize. Is that a 5K runner? Whatever the case, there were a handful of other guys around me but I quickly took the lead of that pack and stretched it out. Through the first mile, I wanted to stay reasonably close to second place but I didn’t want to get myself in trouble either. The race director reversed the course this year so the courses split just before the mile mark. Just before this split, someone pulled up next to me. We ran side by side for a bit before he turned right for the 5K course and I turned left for the 10K. The bad news was the second guy in front of me also turned left. It looks like I’m in third. Through the second mile, I could see Jerry most of the time and, obviously, second place. I was just trying to stay close in case someone faltered. Maybe I could pick him off. Well, nobody was faltering but me. Just before the 2 mile mark, I found myself thinking I’m running way too hard for the first half of a race.
Into mile 3, one of the lead bikes fell back to me because the gap between myself and second was getting so big. Going around a turn, of which there are plenty on this course, I glanced over my shoulder to get an idea of what was going on behind me. I had built up a nice gap. The pace bike rider confirmed that for me, saying I had about a 20 second lead on 4th. I made some comment that second had a much bigger lead on me as I placed my focus back on trying to no avail to keep within some respectable distance of him. Through 3 miles, still feeling like I was working too hard but not wanting to let up for fear of losing my top 3 position. More pain and suffering through mile 4 until I hit the 4 mile mark and get my first split of the race: 22:20. OK, I’m struggling but for good reason. I’m posting a solid 5:35 pace. Can I actually maintain a 5:35 pace or better through the finish? I’m skeptical. At this point, I’m working hard enough that I’m not expecting to maintain pace. I fully expect to fade at some point but I’m going down in a blaze of glory. I keep hammering away.
Shortly after the 4 mile mark, the 5K course joins back in. This is where it gets interesting. Now, I have to deal with packs of walkers. Fortunately, the pace bike is with me. He did an incredible job of getting ahead of me and clearing a path. There were a few instances in the final 2 miles of walkers not listening to his orders and sometimes wild hand gestures to clear a path but he did as good of a job as I could have hoped for to give me a clear path. Anyway, back to my running. I’m just pushing, fully expecting to crash hard at some point but hoping not to. By this point, I’m working hard enough that my breathing is very audible, to the point of getting some of those involuntary grunts going that really signify I’m on the edge. Still, keep pushing. Keep pushing and hope I have enough. Just before the 5 mile mark, I went around a right, ran about 20 seconds or so, and went around another right. On the second, I glanced back again after making the turn. The next runner I could spot was just approaching the first turn. I must have a 30 second lead or so. Good thing, I’m still expecting the crash. At the 5 mile mark, I just tell myself to go with everything I have and hope I have enough to get to the finish line. Weaving my way through walkers and now some joggers, I keep pushing. About a half mile to go, keep pushing. Second to last turn, 6 mile mark, final turn. I kicked some but honestly didn’t give it everything I had. There wasn’t much reason to. Second place was already in for some time and fourth was nowhere to be seen.
Final result: third place in 34:27. With second nearly 2 minutes ahead of me and faster than even my track PR, I’m glad I didn’t try to stay right with him. It’s of course a bit bitter to not defend the title but I can’t feel bad about this. Those guys were clearly better than me and I gave it everything I had. In fact, I was somewhere around 25-30 seconds faster than last year. As for my thoughts at mile 4, not only did I not slow down. I sped up enough to lower my average pace to 5:33.
A few things I’m taking from this race, all good. While my place wasn’t as good, that was a factor of who was there. I was clearly faster than last year. In an even better sign, last year, I was so trashed the day after the race, I ended up only doing a very easy 5 miles. Yesterday, I did 13 miles not blazing fast but with a pretty spirited effort at times and my legs felt so good I was thinking of going even longer. Finally, my week going into this race was much more shaky than last year when I was feeling pretty primed for it. Put that all together and I feel like I’m well ahead of where I was last year. This was a very positive start to 2010. I’m very excited at this point to see what the rest of the year will bring.
While this is an extremely well run event, I do hope they fix a couple of things for next year. First, the reversal of course direction resulted in a lot of congestion problems in my opinion with walkers getting in the way of runners over the final 2 miles of the course. Second, when I was registering, I was waiting at the 10K registration location when someone called me over to the 5K location. I said I’m running the 10K, she said she could take me and I’d be in the 10K. Later, when I saw her grabbing what I thought was a 5K number, I asked again to ensure I was being registered for the 10K, not the 5K. She told me yes. After the race, I found myself in the 5K results and I had to talk with the scorers to get that corrected. It’s just frustrating that someone who is supposed to know the registration procedure, who is given two opportunities by the runner to correct her error, instead insists that she is right when she is in fact wrong. No big deal in the end, the error got corrected, but just frustrating.
- April 26, 2010 at 4:02 pm #29912
- April 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm #29913
Pretty good race, one thing that i admire about your racing is that your times are pretty consistent, i have seen runners that their time really suffers from race to race. Your racing times seem not to suffer despite the conditions. Congrats and you are much faster than 2:50 shape for the marathon , i think you can run 2:40-2:45 on august.
- April 26, 2010 at 5:59 pm #29914
That is a full minute and a half ahead of your pace at my event. I think you have a great chance to defend there!
Great race Ryan – awesome job.
- April 26, 2010 at 6:23 pm #29915
Cesar, I wasn't always as consistent as I have been in recent years. I think, for me at least, some of that consistency comes from experience and some probably from not always being on the very edge, both in training and racing. As for the marathon, it's August in Wisconsin and heat will affect marathon performances much more than it will performances in events that last roughly a half hour or less. Also, I don't know how I'm going to run it yet. A lot depends on the competition that shows up. I may start off very conservative and try not to kill myself at any point. Of course, I may also get a little more aggressive in the first half and shoot for the stars in the second half and see if a 2:45 is in the cards. I just don't know and probably won't know completely until after the marathon has already started.
Ed, I wouldn't count on my time being mid-34 at your race. The Deer Run's biggest hill is hardly a bump. There are a lot of turns but, other than that, not much to slow one down. I should be faster at your event this year than last, depending on other factors, but I don't want to get too hopeful about a 90 second improvement that may not materialize.
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