Sunday, November 22, 2009

Derby City AAU Meet - race report

Okay, so I should have written this a week ago. I have no valid excuse.

Last Sunday I made my cross-country debut at the past-my-xc-prime age of 24. See, USATF club cross country nationals are down the road in Lexington next month, so it didn't take much arm-twisting to get me to participate. In fact, I got an awesome Derby City Athletic Club uniform and that was really all I needed.

The DCAC hosted the AAU regional meet on Sunday, and allowed three of us running club cross to use it as a "practice" race to tune-up. And I need a lot of tuning. More like an engine rebuild, but hey, gotta work with what I got. I really needed an opportunity to race in grass (I've done trail races, but that's not the same either), wear my spikes and figure how out of shape I was.

On the good side, I like wearing spikes even though my lower leg has been a little sore ever since. I also was correct in my early prediction of how I'd do, so at least I'm fairly in tune with what the legs are willing to do.

There's not really a bad side to this race, other than me not running 18 flat ... But that's a bad side to any 5k I've ever done -- or probably will ever run.

The course was two loops, featuring a couple of little hills and one bigger one. Steep but not long, so a fairly good course.

The other two girls and I had planned to just run this race as a tempo run, which would be 6:45 pace on the roads for us. Of course, by the time we were on the line, I was saying 6:30 pace. I think they knew where this was going. The gun went off, and the 16 assorted guys and gals -- high schoolers with four exceptions -- took off in a pack. For the first 100 yards or so, I kept saying out loud, "not 5:30 pace, not 5:30 pace." As we rounded the first turn, I went, "Damn, 5:30 pace." I started to back off, trying to settle in.

I clipped through the first mile in 6:20 but knew it wasn't going to last. My friend/semi-coach was at the marker, which seemed like a good time for me to remind him I hate 5ks. To which he replied, "Well, you're running halfway decent so just keep your head in it and relax."

Relax I did, and a little too much. I ran 6:48 for the second mile, along the way having some elementary-aged boys yell, "Go Ken Combs lady!" which I loved. There weren't any other runners close by, probably part of why I slacked so much.

But then ... I could hear one of the girls on my team and that I run with often. Former DIII all-American, this one, and I could recognize her breathing. That meant there was no slowing down and that I probably needed to pick up a bit. Now, generally this girl could slaughter me in a 5k, but she's been putting in 15 miles a week or so during her first semester of dental school. It was a little disheartening to have her damn near catch me anyway. A good reminder why I need to stick with longer distances nonetheless.

After a 6:44 third mile, I ran the last smidge at 5:22 pace and called it a day. I finished second female to a high schooler who had just placed sixth at the state meet the previous day. Fair enough. I'm recovering from a marathon and she's peaking; I'll settle for the 27-second loss.

I ran 20:13, with which I'm okay. It was fun. Now it's time to get my rear into gear for the next one.

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