Track Races and Watch Tans

Not much can compare to flying along some fun single track on a dry, sunny day, at least not by my estimation. I’ve certainly been enjoying plenty of trail running since the snow melted, but man is it a lot more fun when the weather is +/- one degree of perfect like it’s often been for the past couple weeks! Granted on race day it always seems to crank it up to 11 with humidity and Fahrenheit, but otherwise it’s been ideal. Plenty of runners hate the really hot days, and while I’m not a necessarily a fan of them myself, as long as it’s not humid and I don’t have a race, it’s kind of fun to grit it out and work on those classy runner tan-lines. Anyhow, enough chatting about the weather in New England, it’s about to change again (seriously, a high of 61 and rain is forecast for tomorrow…)

So, onto the running! I left off in my last post having just returned from a fun-filled VT City Marathon weekend and boy oh boy has a lot happened in the two weeks since then. After returning from VT I ran what I thought would be a great 5000, but ended up being a disappointing and slow time. The humidity was in full effect and to top it off I had no one in my heat who was willing or able to push the pace at all. I led from the gun and won the heat, which was one small bonus, but still left me feeling thoroughly ready to put in some more work in training and a desire to forget all about it.

Scott Mason making even me look pro.

Scott Mason makes everything look good, even a crappy race!

Thankfully, the next event in the local series only offered a 3000 or 3k steeple, so I had to either take the weekend off from racing or try something totally new. I went way out of comfort zone and raced the steeple. As is often the case for me, trying something new was just the kick I needed to get me even more psyched about running again and to boost some confidence. I started right at the back of the pack and just pushed hard and consistently worked up my effort and ended up finishing 5th. Unfortunately I didn’t realize until half a lap to go that I was close to getting the club nationals standard and was unable to grab it, closing hard. Still, finishing in 10:16 gave me confidence that I can go a lot faster and was perfect inspiration to try the steeple at least once more this year and go for the <10:10. It also made me realize that I need to buckle down and push harder in the 5k.

Thanks to Tom Derderian for this great shot!

Thanks to Tom Derderian for this great shot!

Well, that was last week in a nutshell. Steeple is my new favorite thing and I would have gone right out and raced it again this week, but it wasn’t offered, so it was back to the 5000. This time I found mostly great weather and some solid people to run with, perfect. Took off in 3-4th for the first few laps and was content to hang on and churn out mostly 78’s with plenty of cheering and splits called out from the SISU family around the track (we also gathered enough people for three co-ed DMR teams, the highlight of the night, for sure) My goal was to break 16, but that was going to be a big ask, I knew, the smart move was running 16:1x pace so I followed the advice of those on the sides and just tried to hang tough. With a few laps to go the lead guy started to slow but the girl in front me also was losing steam and he was losing us. I made the move and got right up on him and then thought about making a move with a couple to go, but he sensed it and sped up. With 200 to go I moved into lane 2 again and tried to pull ahead, but again was matched. With 50 to go I finally got the lead and literally found a whole new speed, hitting close to¬†30 seconds for the last 200 according to GPS data. Big confidence boost, finally cutting some time off my 5k best, even if 16:15 is nowhere near where my aspirations lie, still felt good exercising some racing tactics. Did get plenty of ribbing about my “sit-and-kick” race after this getting up on the Level the other day, but I’m fine with that! Speaking of kicks… did anyone else jump up from the couch screaming when Ben True out-kicked Nick Willis to be the first American to ever win a Diamond League 5000 yesterday? Maybe I was inspired by that last night, come to think of it. Enough breaking down past races though, time to focus on what’s ahead and chase faster times!

Next up is my second go at the steeple on the 21st, followed by what should be a racing filled July, with some 10k and 5 mile action on tap. Hopefully some good tune-ups for some really fast XC this fall in mid-marathon mode. If I do get the club nats standard in the steeple, I’ll def make the trip down to NYC and have some fun!

As always, thanks for reading along and putting up with my self-aggrandizing race recaps. :p

And last but not least, please go try out some track if you haven’t before! This complete newbie here has had a blast in every race and never once felt like an outsider. Even adult runners can fit in and have fun, so don’t be scared to step up and give it a go! Just ask this lovely team of DMR runners; some with no experience, some with college in the recent or distant rear-view, all with smiles!
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