Monday, July 18, 2011

Twilight Runfest 8K Race Report

The Rockville Twilight 8K Runfest is the highlight event of summer racing. The competition is solid, and it's one of the top 20 8k road races in the country. The course is certainly not easy, with its rolling hills in the first 2 miles, as well as a few climbs in the late stages of the race. It can go out very fast, and the heat can be rough. Fortunately the temperatures were more moderate this year. My goal was to compete in this race, not run for time. I just wanted to place well and beat as many runners as I could. It felt good to get out on the road again in my Mizuno racing flats. Besides the track, I haven't raced on the road since April. I wanted this race to be a good, hard effort.

I got to the invited runner room around 7:15 and chatted with some of the other elites. Abiyot Endale, Wilson Komen, Ricky Flynn, Dave Berdan...there were some strong runners ready to race tonight. I met up with Luci and her twin sister Claudin(who wasn't racing but came to cheer us on) and we did a warm-up together. I felt great on the warm-up and my legs felt strong and fluid.

The runner in me only becomes stronger with perserverance.

The gun went off and about 15 runners blazed in front of me. I settled into my rhythm and we made the turn to start our first climb up Martins Lane. I already started passing people. Not to brag but, I have to admit, I am such a strong hill runner. Ever since high school, I was always strong on hills. I have a lower center of mass and it certainly comes to my advantage over taller runners. I chewed up a few more runners and settled myself in position, noticing Neal Darmody not too far in front of me.

I went through my first mile in 4:50 and felt fine. The 2nd mile is much slower since hills are added immediately after the first mile and on Beall Avenue. On Beall Avenue I keyed off of Neal, a D1 college runner and who is my former high school's all time best distance runner Quince Orchard has ever had. Any record I held at QO he had demolished. My former coach, Seann Pelkey, did a great job with him. But he also did a great job with me. I pulled up alongside of Neal and together we hammered on Beall Ave. Neal's a great kid. He's got a good head on his shoulders and he's got a lot of talent. He won his conference title this past Spring in the 10,000m. He doesn't want to seem to move up to longer distances after college but he surely has great potential.

Before the 2 mile mark, Georgetown Running Company's top 2 runners in the race, Paul Guevara and Paul Zwama, pulled up right behind me and Neal along with Matthew Abernathy. Together we rolled through the 2 mile in just over 10:00 minutes and the crowds cheered as we made the difficult turn back onto 355. I heard people cheering my name and recognized voices but could not look in time. I just concentrated on keeping my eyes up ahead and attacking the 2nd half of this race.

We made the turn on Martins again, repeating the uphill and then made a right onto Mannakee, where we flew down into the Montgomery College Campus. I now started to pull ahead of Neal, who I could hear was not far behind me. Both Pauls, however, began making a break from me as well. I could see them just ahead and tried to stay in contact. Matt Abernathy was still with me, and together we ran stride for stride going around the parking lots that zigzagged with U-turns. I hate making 180 degree U-Turns. They throw off your momentum by forcing you to slow down in order to make the turn and then you have to regain your speed as soon as you can to keep your momentum flowing. It hurts to slow down.

I hammered.

Abernathy was with me but I could feel him working. We caught an African runner( Seife Geletu) at a hill we were going up towards the 4 mile mark. I could see both Pauls still just ahead and told Matt to work together to get them. At the same time both Pauls were surging as well..

We made the turn onto 355 going South and it was less than a mile to go. I surged a few times but Abernathy stayed right with me. I couldn't shake him. Less than half a mile to go and I could hear people cheering in the distance. Finally with a quarter mile to go I could see the finish line. I strided out as best I could but I didn't have a sprint(which Abernathy did), and he passed me. Then, the African Seife Geletu sprinted by me and I cursed, "Dammit!!"...the guy came back out of nowhere. I surged to give a good fight but was no match. Still, I came through the finish strong and people I knew cheered loudly in excitement as I crossed the line in 11th place in 25:32, my highest placing and best time in this race by far.

Lucinda ran well too, finishing 4th overall for women in 28:48. We did a long cool-down together afterwards.

Beth, Ashwin, Gary, and Cormic came out to watch and we had a fun night partying at my place afterwards. I got in 80 miles this past week. Next and final race of the summer before I prep for fall is the Crystal City 5K next Saturday 7/23 at 8:30 PM.

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