It’s Race Week – Pressure off in Denver on Sunday

Posted: October 4, 2011 in Pace and Racing
Tags: , ,

The events of the last couple of days since coming through the chute at the IBM Uptown Classic can be summed up for me in just one word.

Whew.

After a summer of training through what was the hottest summer in recorded history in Austin – I honestly had no gauge as to where I was from a “race ready” standpoint.

I raced my first triathlon, ran several 5K races, two 10K’s as part of the Austin Triathlon Relay and the Austin Marathon Relay but each race was held in close to if not above 90 degree temperatures.

I soldiered on the best I could, left it all out there each and every race, but the lowest I could go at the 5K distance was a 19:00 minute flat race the day after my mother was diagnosed with Brain Cancer.

At the 10K distance, I barely snuck under 39:00 minutes on a loop course at the Austin Triathlon relay.  I was training hard and racing hard, but there were no positive signs in the way of race times.  My brain kept telling me that it was the heat. “You’re fine”, I kept saying to myself, but I would be less than honest if I didn’t admit that I was nervous.

Perhaps my best shot at a 3 hour marathon was on February 20th last year in Austin and I had blown it.  The heat, humidity and wind conspired against me that day – and with it went my one and only shot at 2:59:59.  The loftiest and to be honest final running goal that I have out there.

But in 37 minutes and 30 seconds on Sunday all of those doubts were erased.

I beat my time in what I considered to be my most untouchable of PR’s by :36 seconds.

In a 6.2 mile race we are talking about a lifetime, more than :05 seconds/mile.

So now we move on to Denver and the Rock n’ Roll Half-Marathon on Sunday morning.  A race that two days ago I was thinking would tell the story of what my capabilities were heading into the New York City Marathon in a little less than 5 weeks, just a month after Denver.

Now?  It’s just going to be a 13.1 mile tempo workout with 5 or 6,000 of my closest friends.

It’s been awhile since I raced for the fun of it.  Now 13.1 miles at altitude somewhere around 6:35 min./mile pace might not sound like your idea of fun.  But for me it really is.

There is no pressure on me whatsoever to “go low” on Sunday.  I’m going to repeat what I did last week following up my 8.3 mile recovery run on Monday with a 16-mile long run early Tuesday morning.  Another 8-10 miles out in Denver on Wednesday to acclimate to the elevation and then a 2-mile shakeout after a couple of days off on Saturday morning.

Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. local time I’ll shed my sweats in the sub 40 degree temperatures, punch my watch and race.

1:26, 1:27, 1:28, 1:29 – it really doesn’t make any difference.  I’m going to settle into a comfortably “uncomfortable” pace and let the miles tick by.  If the altitude is bothering me, I’ll dial it back a notch and play it smart.  If I feel good through 8 miles, I’ll wind the watch a bit and start ticking over a little bit faster.

At the hill at the 11.5 mile mark the course elevation tilts in the favor of the runners and leads to a downhill finish.  I’d like that mile to be one of my fastest.  We’ll thunder to the finish, hit the timing mat and punch stop on my watch.

That is the first time I am going to look at it on the course.

I’m going to retrieve my bag, put on some warm clothes and find my family.  I’m going to hug and kiss my wife, do the same to little Landry and put my medal around her neck.

Goals for Sunday?  Only three.

Run hard and honest.

Exit the race healthy.

Have fun.

Sounds like a pretty darn good Sunday.

More from Denver later this week, so stay tuned!  Can’t believe that I just packed gloves in my race bag!

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