After 8 consecutive weeks of 90, 100, 94, 105, 108, 112, 106, & 110, it was time to get a short break from the mileage and bring it down a notch and jump in a race. I got 75 miles this past week which felt pretty much like nothing, and did a moderate workout of 3 x 5:00 fartleks averaging at about 5:12 pace or so on Wednesday. The Annapolis 10 Miler fit perfectly, which Roland had mentioned late spring as we talked over the training schedule and races. Annapolis didn't feel as much of a race to me as a very hard training run, but maybe that's just my mentality as I get fitter, and the course, which was quite hilly. I started out quite conservative(the plan was to go moderate first 5 miles, hard the second 5 miles). A pack of 5 guys or so formed around me and together we worked through the early miles. The early miles weren't very hilly, so the 5:25 pace I was running felt quite comfortable. After mile 3, I started to get sick of running with the group and started throwing in surges. Probably a bit earlier than I should have but I couldn't help it. The pack I could feel was aching as I did so. I was in control. I would surge, and then coast as the pack would catch back up, but I could feel them breathing harder each time I did so. Then near mile 4, I saw a long, mean, hill over the bridge. I probably went too early, but I ate that hill up for lunch, it felt good running hard up the thing, starting to push myself a bit more, setting myself free. I've always been a good hill runner. Back in high school I remember how well I handled "the dip" at the State Championship meet at Hereford. I pulled ahead up the hill and felt a gap begin. But a few runners were not far behind, I could hear their footsteps. I then held the lead from there. I didn't know the course well, but it didn't matter much to me. I would surge for a bit, then coast. Surge then coast. I made a dreadful U-Turn at mile 7 to charge back up a steep hill I just hammered down. I then fell asleep a bit around mile 8, and that's when I heard footsteps. A runner from behind was catching me, I could feel them coming. My competitor caught me somewhere after 8, and we made our way to the bridge. Try me. I drafted off of him for a moment, then threw in a surge up the hill over the bridge as people cheered for us on the other side. I could feel the runner hurt from the move. He had worked hard to catch me, and now he was hurting. I coasted again, and then felt him coming back. I surged again, and then pressed the pace and pushed past mile 9 in a 5:10 split. One more surge. Time to lay the hammer down. I ran hard towards the finish area, took a look back as I made one more turn, and knew I had won. He was far back enough now, and had used everything he had left. I turned another right to charge up a long hill, where spectators cheered. I felt I had more in me, but relaxed and coasted in to claim the victory in 53:38. The time was not fast for me, but this wasn't a time trial race. The goal was to run hard and win tactically, and that's what I did.
"Congratulations," said John Astle, a member of the Maryland Senate representing Anne Arundel County, said to me. "I was the very first winner of this race 39 years ago." I was very honored to meet him and shook his hand proudly. I did a little bit of research on him, and he not only is one of the founders of the Annapolis 10 Miler, but has helped the sport of road running in MD tremendously. He introduced legislation in the early 80's to allow the use of public roads for organized races. I have been meaning to send him an email to thank him for all of the work he has done.
I was later interviewed which is recapped here:
I also congratulated the 2nd place finisher for his efforts. He was only 23, and has a bright running career ahead of him.
Afterwards, I felt like running a bit more, and probably ran too much. I felt so good I ran another 8.5 miles after the race(kind of got into Forrest Gump mode-"I just felt like running!"), and to add to the 1.5 mile warmup I did pre-race, it ended up being a 20 mile morning. To top it off, that afternoon I felt so good I went out for another 5 mile run to get in 25 total for the day. Jesus. A bit overkill, and Roland criticized me for it as I talked to him over the phone later that evening, but I was on a low mileage week, and probably just felt good getting some more miles in since I was so used to it from weeks before. The overall mileage(75) was still quite low for how I've been training.
The next tune-up race will be the Navy Half Marathon in Washington, DC on Sept 14, which, to me, feels like I actually will be racing it. The goal is to win that as well, which won't be as easy. Nevertheless, I should be in the mix.
I will be back on high mileage this week, shooting for 110 again. I have a 26 mile long run this Saturday, which will really help me feel like the marathon distance isn't scary. Running the distance in training is something I have never done in the past. I have feared the marathon distance. Overcoming the fear is the key. It's time to face these fears and conquer them.