Sunday, July 26, 2015
The Battle in the Heat
July 18, 2015
Last Saturday, I went head to head with a very good Ethiopian runner named Abu Kebede. I didn't really know how good he was until after the race when I looked up his race performances. The performance that caught my eye was his 1:05 half marathon this past spring, 2 minutes better than my personal best for that distance, and the level I am so hardly working towards getting to. The Twilighter 8K is a tough course, and the heat and humidity that night would surely put my fitness to the test. Conditions for racing were downright as tough as they could get. I knew that if someone were to beat me in this race, they would have to be very fit. July 13-19 was the last week of the sharpening stuff my coach has had me work on. On Monday, I did 2 miles of 50m alternating sprint/floats again in 9:43, which was my fastest time doing that exercise-I'm happy with how much I've improved that. On Tuesday, I did a mile in 4:29, and that was the end of the sharpening phase. There was just this race, and then we would do 2 weeks of endurance, before marathon specific training begins in August.
We blasted off into the darkness, where the heat and hills waited. I was looking for guys around me, but I found myself alone....except for one. Kebede came up on my left shoulder and took the lead, with me drafting. I guess the others felt we were going suicide pace....which in this heat, was. I drafted off Kebede, staying right on him. I could tell he was surprised I was there, and we hammered up the hills on the first 2 miles of the course. I wasn't really concerned about our splits or pace, the conditions were so bad. I wanted to win.
We made our way towards the turn at Washington Street where many cheered. I had started to lead the race at this point, with Kebede drafting. We turned a hard left towards the second part of the course. It would be tough to do, but I felt I had a good shot to beat this guy. I decided to hammer the second part of the course and try to lose him a bit. I surged at times, especially uphills....problem was he was the same build as me, and was just as good on hills, so he was able to match every move I made. We were both very evenly matched. We passed mile 3.
STAY WITH IT CHRIS! I heard my friend John cheer. Mile 4 was a hard push, I was still trying to gain distance on Kebede. I felt I almost broke him during that mile. We made a right turn onto 355 and the last mile was an all out brawl. We ran side by side waiting to see who would go first. By now I was laboring a bit and the humidity and heat was tough. There was no one behind us for quite a ways. One of us would win. Focus. I thought how this guy must be hurting just as bad as I was by now. I then thought, damn, what was I... 64th in this race in 2008? Indeed, I was. It's great when you look back to getting your ass kicked....and now in contention for the win.
The last 1/2 mile Kebede made a move. He surged ahead and I tried to draft on him. I heard runners from the opposite side cheer GO CHRIS!!! Then George Buckheit yelled to get the fire going. Time to dig. HE'S HURTING CHRIS! YOU CAN BEAT HIM!! I surged, and to Kebede's surprise, I went ahead of him. I think he then realized I was not going down easily, and I felt him getting ready for his next surge. 200 meters to go. I could see the line in sight. Just get to the line, dammit. Kebede then surged past me again, but this time I fought him, and perhaps, mistakenly, went too soon. I went ahead of him with less than 100 meters remaining....I still had the lead with 50 or 60 meters to go but he was able to muster one last surge and I went hard again but could not go into a full sprint anymore. We both ran as hard as we could through the line and he beat me by a second or two. It was a hard fought effort and I think it humbled both of us. We both hit the pavement in exhaustion, and as I finally got myself up I went over to him, seeing him lying on the ground too made me realize that, damn I really made him work for it. I helped him up and congratulated him. I think he and I had a mutual respect for each other-we were evenly matched and the difference between us was in the surges we had, and that we were both truly longer distance runners. The conditions were downright brutal, and we had beaten each other to a pulp.
The night of the race I couldn't fall asleep for a while, tossing and turning and replaying the last 50 meters in my head over, and over. The next morning I ran 20 miles in 2:07, at a pretty good 6:20 clip, in quite brutal humidity. It seems like my easy pace for long runs has become low 6's. 84 miles for that week.
2 weeks of Endurance
Now I am doing endurance through next week. The goal is to get in the volume(my coach wants me at least 108 for these 2 weeks) and transition out of the sharpening into marathoning. The great thing here is that I am really fit going into the cycle, and I don't think it will take very long before I get into very ideal marathon shape. We are done with the short races now, and there will be one tune-up half marathon at the VA Beach Rock N Roll 13.1 on Sept 6. Then the Chicago Marathon on October 11.
This week July 20-26: 110 miles
M- AM: 9 miles with Jerry/ PM: 3 miles
T- AM: 15 miles with Brian/PM: 3 miles
W- AM: 5 miles/PM: Hill Repeats/9 miles
Th- AM: 18 miles(14 with Brian)/PM: 4 miles
F- 8 x 200m strides with 200m jog, 9 miles
S- AM: 12 miles @ Beach Drive, hilly: 1:09(5:45 pace)/PM: 3 miles
S- 20 miles: 2:16
Total: 110 miles