Archive for October 27, 2010

It’s race week once again as this Sunday race number two of the Austin Distance Challenge will be waiting for us on Halloween morning.  Just two weeks after the first race in the series, the IBM Uptown Classic, this is the shortest turnaround between races in the series.

Race number three will be the Decker Half-Marathon on December 12th, followed by the 3M Half-Marathon on January 30th.  The final race in the series will be the Livestrong Austin Marathon on February 20, 2011.

I have to admit that I am still a little “beat-up” from the IBM Uptown Classic.  Many experienced runners and racers will tell you that it takes 1 full day to recover from each mile of racing.  13 days to recover from a half-marathon, 26 days to recover from a full, 3 days from a 5K race and of course 6 days from a 10K.

Closing .20 Miles - IBM Uptown Classic

I spent Monday traveling out to Minneapolis, which gave me a rest day from running.  On Tuesday morning I found myself in yet another training location and took the opportunity to run along the Mississippi River in Downtown Minneapolis.  Unsure of exactly where I was going in the early morning darkness, I found the river trail and ended up running a brisk 7.25 miles at 7:07 pace.

My legs were starting to feel like they were “bouncing back” from IBM, but there was still some tightness in my right quad and a little creakiness in my lower left side.  Nothing major, not an injury or really even the start of one, just some lingering fatigue from racing hard last weekend.

So with arguably the “toughest” race of the distance challenge on the schedule this weekend, I am feeling a little bit uneasy heading into my second race day in as many weeks.

The Gazelle Foundation Run for the Water 10-miler is a unique race.  The 10 mile distance is long enough to require strategy and pacing, but short enough where to run a good time and place well I am going to have to push it.

To complicate matters, the hills on this course are significant.  They come at the runners starting at the end of mile two and roll up and down, up and down, up and down over the next five miles.  Some of the climbs are extreme and will take a lot out of the runners.

Looking back at previous years, runners have run a lot of “negative splits” on this course, where their last five miles were run much faster than their first.  That is a difficult race strategy for even the most experienced runners to execute – which tells me it is more a by-product of the course than any “strategies” being implemented.

So on Sunday morning I will be racing a course I have never run before, at a distance I have never raced on tired legs from a tough race two weeks earlier.  The good news is I am in line for an “automatic PR” as it will be my maiden voyage at the 10-mile distance.

The bad news is that the first update to the Austin Distance Challenge Standings made their way to my inbox this morning and after only one race we find ourselves right in the thick of this thing:

Austin Distance Challenge – Race 1 Rankings

M: 40 – 44 Top 5
Andy Yaeger 37:31:00
Joseph Marruchella 38:06:00
Michael André Ford 38:56:00
Talmedge Matts 41:37:00
Jeffry Russell 42:57:00

When I signed up for the distance challenge, I really did not have a lot of expectations.  I did not imagine “competing” for an age-group title.  I just wanted to participate in the race series, race well enough to help prepare myself for the Austin Marathon and perhaps make a few friends in the Austin Running Community.

But the competitor in me looks at the list above and sees :35 seconds separating me and Mr. Yaeger after the first race.  Run well at the Run for the Water and we may just have a shot at an age-group award.

So once again I will be making a small change to the training plan this week and taking an extra rest day on Thursday.  My hope is that I can find a little extra “juice” in these legs and after driving the course on Friday I will be able to put together a race strategy that will allow me to hold my position heading into the longer endurance events.

My hope is the literally hundreds of hill repeats we have run this summer and fall will show up on Sunday.  I have a new found confidence in my climbing ability and it should pay dividends Halloween morning.  The race starts at 7:00 a.m., which again, sets up nicely for this early morning runner.

I just wish I had a little bit more experience at that distance to really know after finishing the final large climb at mile 7, just how much we will have “left in the tank” to race hard to the finish.

It is shaping up to be an interesting race this weekend for sure.  Perhaps my training runs in Minneapolis and Toronto this week will provide me with some extra “mojo”.  Perhaps right now Andy Yeager is looking at his rear view mirror wondering who this Marruchella guy is and where he came from.

Being only 40 and a newcomer to our age-group this year, perhaps he thought he had a little bit of an advantage racing the “older guys”

We’ll see how things shake out on Sunday, at the end of the day I’m just running for my friend. 

I’m sure Dom would be proud of me no matter where I finish.

At the same time, I also know him well enough to realize he would be disappointed if I didn’t try my best.

Stop back for the race report on Sunday – should be a good one!