Tuesday, September 7, 2010

2010 westport summer series 10 miler: race report

I had planned a short race report for the Westport Summer Series 10 miler, but decided a better subtitle (and focus) should be “a pair of ten milers” - and include the surprising 10 miler I ran the next morning. The 10 miler in Westport was my first race since the soles of my feet were wrecked during the last 25 miles of the Beast of Burden race last month. While I was back to running - and slowly rebuilding my base - I had little, if any, leg speed going into the race. I knew, however, that speed would eventually return (but no idea it would be the very next morning).

I’ve run the Westport 10 miler many times over the last decade. It’s one of my favorite races (right alongside the Brooklyn Half Marathon). While I ran a 1:13 last year, a 1:20 was a more realistic (and maybe soft) target this time around. In my training runs for the week leading up to the race, my pace for the 4-6 milers rarely broke 8 minutes. I planned to start with 7:45 miles and see how long I could maintain that pace - knowing that hill in mile 6, and the climb back to the finish in the last mile, would slow me down.

My split for the first two miles (I missed the first mile marker) was 15:23 - well under an 8 minute pace, and even under a 7:45 pace. Considering the bulk of mile one was downhill, I didn’t take too much comfort in that start. Miles 3 to five bounced between 7:26 and 7:48, with a 5 mile split of 38:12 - but, with mile 6 and 10 the hardest of the course, I thought a 40 minute second half would be doable.

As I turned right just after 5 miles, Paul, volunteering as a course marshal, said “enjoy the hill!” Ha! That’s probably the last expression that would have escaped my lips. I wound up power walking some of the hill - and missing the mile markers for miles 6 and 7. When I reached mile 8, it had taken 24:26 to cover those 3 miles - an 8:03 pace, for a cumulative split of 1:02:29 for the full eight miles. I had plenty of time to bring it in under 1:20 - and might even break 1:18 with some luck.

Mile 9 in 7:26, brought my cumulative time to just over 1:10 (1:10:05). A 7:55 last mile would bring it in under 1:18 - but there was one last climb back to the high school. I missed that goal by just over 20 seconds (8:16) and finished in 1:18:22 (my official result was 1:18:25). Given the circumstances, I was more than pleased with that result. But a surprise was awaiting me the next morning!

With the temperature in the high 50's when I left the house Sunday morning, it actually felt chilly! I had another 10 miler in mind for that morning’s training run - along with a similar 1:20, 8 minute pace, target. The first two miles went by in 16:02 - as planned. But then I felt my leg speed creeping back. Miles 3 and 4 were 7:30/7:28 and mile 5 came in at 7:10! The 5 mile split of 38:11 equaled my Westport 10 Miler split at 5 miles!

The next 5 miles would be very different (and benefit from the lack of two big climbs) animals. Miles 6 and 7 went by in 7:28 and 7:24, respectively. Mile 8 was a shocking 6:53! I had one of those “what’s going on here” moments because I it didn’t seem as if I was pushing the pace. Mile 9 was a relatively slow 7:34 as I pondered this conundrum. But then I powered home the last mile in another 6:53 - and finished in 1:14:25 (4 minutes faster than Westport)!

I was more than incredulous at that result - and went over my splits twice as I cooled down from the run! While my first two miles (16:02) averaged an 8 minute pace, the final 8 miles (58:23) averaged just over a 7:15 pace. And I had no explanation for this remarkable change in speed - other than my body had concluded the recovery phase was finished! Since lightning doesn’t strike twice - and delayed onset muscle soreness occasionally bedevils me - Monday’s 10 miles was a struggle at an 8 minute pace (broken into 6 and 4 mile runs).

Next up: the Norwalk Half Marathon

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