Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012 Rockville Twilight 8K Race Report

The Rockville Twilight 8K is pretty much the race of the summer.  It's the most competitive, and you get a mix of collegians who are home for the summer, africans and area elites all thrown in a distance that isn't too short but isn't too long either.  The course is tough, with several U-Turns and rolling hills.  It fairs well for a strength runner such as myself.  Before 2012, my highest placing in this race was 11th from last year, when I ran 25:32, my best time on the course.  I did have a good race last year, and was proud of the effort I gave.  This year though, I wanted more.

The conditions were somewhat like Oregon/Seattle weather as a faint mist covered the air with temperatures in the 70s.  It felt great.  Especially since I raced that mile a few weeks ago in 90+ degree heat.  This was no doubt a breath of fresh air.  I got to the elite room and found Matt and a few GRC guys.  I was bummed Joe Wiegner didn't show up, as he has run well in the 8K in the past.  I chatted with Wilson Komen and Mike Wardian for a bit(who just completed the GRUELING Western States 100 Miler).  I also met Anna, who recently joined the =PR= Racing Team and was happy to have her on our team.  (Our team ended up placing 2nd by a mere 5 seconds to Capital Area Runners).

After warming up, I threw on my Mizuno Wave Universes and got ready to the start.  I was debating on debuting my Ronin 4s(pictured below) but this shoe is really going to be more ideal for my half marathon/marathon racing.

The Universe 4 is my perfect road 5K-10K race shoe(pictured below).
But enough about shoes.  The race ended up being delayed by about 10 minutes.  As I got into position to start, several college guys lined up behind me saying stupid shit and I really wanted to shut them up.  No matter.  I would leave them in the dust once the race started.  Stay calm.  I looked over my right shoulder and saw a dozen africans anxiously waiting for the G word.  I suddenly felt confident, strong, and fearless.  I could beat these guys, I thought.  We took off.

We surged down Washington Street and a large pack of 10-12 runners mostly africans surged to the lead.  I started off at the tailend of the pack.  A few other guys(either college or local) went out fast briefly in front of me before I would pass them later on.  As we made the turn onto Martins Lane we climbed the hill and the pack began to make itself whole.  I tucked right in the pack with 2:16 marathoner Wilson Komen at my side.  The pace did not feel that hard.  I looked around and knew I was hungry to beat these guys.  Then the downhill came, and the pack surged.  I am not really a downhill runner.  Komen, who is like a head and a half taller than I am, sprinted downhill to gain meters on me.  I was trailing the end already.  Still I stayed consistent and hung tough.  I heard coach George Buckheit(who formerly coached Brandon), who gave me a helpful "STAY IN CONTACT CHRIS!"  I didn't let them leave me as we turned a hard left onto Mannakee I pulled up next to Komen as we passed another fading runner.  Mile 1 I split 4:50something.  We climbed up another hill towards Beall where we would make another left.  Komen and I worked together and hung at the back of the lead pack, which was already starting to break up.  Staying straight all the way down, we surged up a long hill-a hill that I run up frequently some days.  It's a bruiser, and it's easy to lose your rhythm on it.  I started to pass Wilson Komen at this point.  (A quick word about Wilson: From Kenya and a coach himself, he is one great guy-just positive about everything-if you talk to him-he will give you great advice-especially to "hammer" during a race!)  I "hammered" and got to the top of the hill and surged downhill towards Washington Street again where the crowds were.  I hit 9:50something for 2 miles.  I made the turn onto Washington again and began the real part of the race.  At this point there was only one white guy ahead of me, with everyone starting to spread out.  Now, is the time.

I began to surge slightly to begin my attack on some of the Africans falling off the pace.  As we climbed up Martins again, I began catching one.  Just one, for now.  Others ahead.  As I passed him, he looked over at me in surprise.  Hello, have you seen me before?  He didn't want to let me go, though.  As we got to the top of the hill, he surged down the hill and I stayed on him.  I hit another gear and passed him again and stomped on it.  I heard a moan.  He was hurtin.  I could feel him losing ground on me.  I prevailed and moved on to the next one.

I made the hard right turn onto Mannakee Lane(right before Mile 3) and could see a few others in the distance.  I split 14:58 at 3 miles or something under 15.  Another left turn and I would begin to catch the next guy.  As we meandered through the Montgomery College Campus, I caught the next guy on the uphill, and he had no response.  I kept moving.  GO!!!!!

I felt so strong.  Nothing was going to stop me from continuing to catch guys.  My strength as a cross country runner and endurance athlete kicked in at the right time during mile 4.  It was a series of U-Turns and uphills and downhills.  I then caught Seife Gelatu, whom actually I know and was having a very good race.  He is a strong runner at the 8K-10K distances.  He grunted a "hey" and tried to hang on to me.  I began really pushing the gas pedal at this point.  As I ran up the hill towards mile 4, I noticed Wardian and other runners who usually have beaten me in the past way back on the other side.  A new perspective, I saw.  I was far up.  And I wanted more. 

I hit mile 4 in 20:10 or something, so it was a slow mile due to all the turns and hills.  I turned for home onto 355 and continued to press on.  Seife had lost ground on me, and I was on my own.  I had to keep pressing though.  Less than 5 min left.  Last mile.  I ran in a series of fartleks, I would surge and then coast, surge and then coast.  I finally saw a guy who looked like he dropped out who I past.  At this point I knew I was close to top 5, which earned cash.  This mile is in a way a dragger, you're just running on 355 waiting to get to the damn finish line.  The pain has set in from all the hills and it isn't getting any better.  But it's less than 5 minutes!  I continued to cruise and made the slight turn onto East Hungerford Drive toward home. I could see one runner in the distance but he had too much on me to catch him.  He would eventually get 5th.  I made one last final surge toward the finish line and let out a loud roar for some reason while crowds cheered and crossed the line in 6th place in 25:08, a new course best for me by 24 seconds.

In terms of team results, I am happy to welcome Anna Holt-Gosselin to the =PR= Racing Team.  Previously a GRC runner, she is now joining the Benedict-Sloane running club.  Anna ran 28:36 for an outstanding 6th place among the females.  Matt Linman also ran strong, finishing in 34th place in a time of 26:49.  Our team placed 2nd overall by a mere 5 seconds!  So close but what can you do.  Runners who I coach: Brandon ran a solid 29:59 for 98th and Marie ran over 40 seconds per mile faster than last year! 

Results below:

1   1/158     15 Eyob Alemu            30 Washington DC         24:12 24:12
    2   1/79      33 Christopher Mills     22 Falls Church VA       24:12 24:12
    3   1/164      3 Tariku Bokan          28 Herndon VA            24:21 24:21
    4   2/158      2 Demesse Tefera        30 Washington DC         24:22 24:22
    5   2/164     14 Temesgen Ilanso       28 Washington DC         24:52 24:52
    6   3/164      8 Christopher Sloane    29 Rockville MD          25:09 25:08
    7   3/158     16 Seife Gelatu          30 Washington DC         25:16 25:15
    8   2/79      67 Chalie Bitew          24 Washington DC         25:18 25:17
    9   4/158      6 Wilson Komen          34 Washington DC         25:27 25:27
   10   3/79      21 Kyle Stanton          21 Columbia MD           25:35 25:33
   11   4/79    1620 Graham Peck           23 Lutherville MD        25:42 25:38
   12   5/79     983 Cameron Hanlin        24 Hagerstown MD         25:48 25:44
   13   4/164    422 Chas Ballew           27 Washington DC         25:45 25:44
   14   1/112     59 Vladimir Tontchinski  45 Eugene OR             25:44 25:44
   15   5/164     17 Alex Battaglino       26 Baltimore MD          25:49 25:48
   16   6/79      57 Garret Martucci       24 Arlington VA          25:52 25:51
   17   7/79    2249 James Noonan          22 Rockford IL           25:54 25:52
   18   1/131      7 Michael Wardian       38 Arlington VA          25:55 25:55
   19   6/164   1705 Carlos Renjifo        29 Baltimore MD          26:00 25:57
   20   8/79    1888 Ryan Stasiowski       23 Eldersburg MD         26:14 26:11
This was a great summer race and great maintenance race before the fall.  I hit 78 miles this week with one day off.  This next week will be close to 100 and the weeks that follow as well.
Contrary to what some think, I will not race again until September.  I got an elite entry into the Philadelphia RocknRoll Half Marathon again.  Race date is September 16.