In 1961 the Shirelles recorded “Mamma Said” – I think they had Sunday’s race in mind when they laid down that top ten R&B Song:
The weather forecast was calling for 50% chance of showers, temperatures around 70 degrees and high humidity. Not ideal conditions at any point in the year. But the first few weeks of hot weather seems to sap runners strength, speed and stamina more than it does after a few weeks of heat acclimation. Every runner is different, but for me each spring it takes me about 21 days before I start to feel “normalized”. I doesn’t make the weather any cooler – but I do tend to get used to it and some adjustments end up being made. I can hold pace better and longer than I can just a few weeks earlier.
For Bun Run, this was going to be the first “nasty” day where I tried to do anything up tempo. I knew it was going to be a tough race, but I hoped that I could hang in there and gut out something in the sub 39:00 minute range. Coming of a race the week before, and another one two weeks before that – I knew I wasn’t “perfect”, but sometimes you surprise yourself I thought as I drifted off to sleep.
Pre-Race: I slept through the night and hopped out of bed for the usual routine. Teeth brushing, warm shower to loosen up a bit and some light clothes. Runderwear, lightweight shorts, small socks and my Brooks Pure Flows that I would be warming up in. I threw on a singlet that I would wear during warm-up, but I had my bib pinned to my shorts as this would be the first shirtless race of the season.
The drive down was uneventful as I ate my Bagel and drank a Gatorade and water. Hit the portapotties upon arrival and stretched next to the start/finish area. Everything was going as planned, but I was comfortable sitting in the dark in just my shorts and singlet. Sounds like nice weather – and it is – for just about everything but racing.
Warm-up: I left the start area for a 2-mile warm-up of gradually increasing 1/2 mile splits: 4:05, 3:57, 3:55, 3:47 – 15:49. Last weekend I did the same warm-up prior to the Red Poppy 5K in 15:39. I was in my wind pants, a pullover and did not break a sweat running the warm-up over 2 miles where the net elevation change was feet.
On Sunday prior to Bun Run I was running easy, but already had my singlet sticking to my back and sweat trickling down my brow. 132 feet of elevation change over those two miles. I stared feeling like it was going to be a tough race. I went back to the car, changed into my race flats, ditched my singlet, drank a little more Gatorade and made it over to the start area. Ready to go.
I tucked into the chute with about 20-25 runners in front of me. Saw David Yin who is part of my new training group and Chris Gunderson from Brooks Running. A couple more of the usual suspects in Austin and felt like I was lined up right where I needed to be. After the National Anthem I hopped a few times, legs felt warmed up and ready to roll. Robert “Evil” Evilsizer from Evil’s Good Time Racing did the honors as he has at 80% of the Austin Races we have ever run.
“Runners to your mark, Horn!”
Miles 1&2: In my mind I wanted to open up with a 6:05 first mile. Nothing too crazy, but a first mile where I could hold on to pace if it felt right, or dial back slightly to 6:15 or so if the conditions warranted. I fell into a group of four with the top two female runners and another tall, lanky runner who I did not know. We stuck in a pack up through the mile one mark and opened with a 6:04:80. Perfect.
Immediately as we started mile 2 it seemed like the group was slowing. Effort felt equal, but we were all now falling :10 a mile off of pace.
We hit mile two in 6:17. My 10K PR of 37:30 at the IBM Uptown Classic equates to 6:01 pace for the entire 10 Kilometer course. This had all of the early indications of an ugly race.
Miles 3&4: Mile 3 features a fairly gnarly climb of 71 feet. Think 7 story office building and you have it about right. The first female started to open up some room on the rest of us, but I was hanging with my other runner friends, trading positions back and forth but nobody being able to break free. Mile 3 came in at 6:47 and as we made our way down the hill to start mile 4 I took some time to recover from the climb. I let the male runner get ahead of me by 10 meters or so, the 2nd overall female was falling behind me just a bit, but still in contact. Mile 4 came in at 6:29 and I felt like that was as good as it was likely to get the rest of the race, still staring the long grinding hill over the final mile up Cesar Chavez to the South First Street Bridge.
Miles 5&6: Mile 5 was just a couple of ticks faster at 6:27, we hit the last water stop, dumped the cup of water over head, took another one for a few sips and dropped it in the waste can as we strode by. I started to reel in the male runner that had been out ahead of us for the last two miles. I wanted to get back in contact with him, pull even before the bridge and try to outkick him to the finish. We were running in 14th position overall, I set my sights on 13th and dug in.
I was trying to stay positive, focusing on the fact that nobody had caught me and that I was gaining on the runner in front of me – but to be honest – this part of the race was pretty rough. I kept my eyes downward, dug into the hill and essentially retraced the 2nd mile of my warm-up. Just before the bridge I caught the runner in front of me, slid past on the turn and turned as tight as I could. I hit the bridge and once I made it to the middle of the bridge we hit mile 6 in 6:28.
6:29, 6:27, 6:28 were the final 3 miles. The good news is we didn’t fall off late. The bad news is we were :15 seconds/mile slow.
Finish: As many downtown races finish, Turkey Trot, SI Labs Relay we made the turn off of the bridge, got a shoutout from Coach Carmen and kicked to the finish.
13th place overall.
2nd place in age group.
Aftermath: It had been awhile since I had a race where I was truly disappointed in my finish. Perhaps that is something to celebrate in and of itself. But I have to admit that the last week has been a mixed bag – coming from an overall first place finish at the Red Poppy 5K I had a lot of confidence heading into Bun Run.
But come race day, the result from a time perspective just wasn’t anywhere near what we were hoping for. I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to put it all in perspective – obviously a top 15 finish in a 909 person event is pretty solid. The course did measure 1/10 long this year as the Start/Finish Line was pushed back a bit further than usual on Auditorium Shores, and of course the weather was pretty brutal.
This week kicks off Big Cottonwood Marathon Training and frankly I have a bad taste in my mouth coming off of Bun Run.
That might be the best thing for me right now as I am a determined runner who is looking to improve and race better the next time. Of course, the next time is 18 weeks away when the temperature is back in the 40’s and we stand 26.2 miles away from a return to the Boston Marathon in 2014.
I’m not entirely sure how things are going to go out in Salt Lake City, UT – but I can promise this much – we are going to be as prepared as possible for that morning and are going to run our heart out. Usually after a flat race I bounce back with a good one. let’s hope that is the case this time.
First workout with Coach Carmen tomorrow morning after 8 miles on Monday and Tuesday to start the week.
Here we go.