Today I ran in the Cherokee Road Runner's Hangover Classic
. It is a 10 mile race held in Louisville every January first. It was my first race. I started running on September 15th of this last year so about 3 and a half months ago. I had an absolute blast even though I was up all night last night moonlighting. Its hard to turn down time and a half.
Pretty much all of the things my friends said about racing ended up being true. I got to the registration and I was totally revved up. I wasn't expecting it to be that way because I wasn't running to compete against other runners. I was trying to run well based on how I performed on some of my training runs.
I run with a Garmin Forerunner 305.
It is wrist mounted GPS unit that tracks your heart rate, speed and a bunch of other data. You connect it to your computer when you get home and it tells you second by second what your heart rate was and plots your course on a map. It tells you things like % grade and elevation and a bunch of other stuff that I don't even use. You can program in custom workouts that will help you keep your heart rate in a certain range over a certain distance or amount of time.
Using the Garmin and a bunch of training tips from my triathlete friend D and my biking friend Easy E I gradually improved over the last 3 months. My resting heart rate is typically about 56 when standing. Just being at the race raised it to 67!
About 10 minutes before the start I trotted around a little bit just to get warmed up. It was only 30 degrees out. I lined up about halfway back in the pack. There were probably between 5 and 6 hundred people running. Before I knew it people were running. I was a little disappointed because there was no starting gun!
There were so many people that for the first mile I couldn't even run at my usual pace. There were too many people in the way. Finally I got up to what felt like my usual pace.
At the 1.5 mile mark there was this idiot running with a dog. One of the guys who was in the pack with me went to pass her and the dog jumped literally under the guy's feet. He went down hard and I would be very surprised if he didn't break a wrist in the fall.
At 2 miles into the race I looked down at the Garmin just out of curiosity and my heart rate was 165. My pace at that point was 7 minute 56 second miles. My first thought was 'uh oh.' The highest heart rate I have run with over a long distance up to this point was 161 for 7 miles with a pace of 8:34. At the end of that run I felt dead. I was worried that I would tire out before the end of the race. I ran for another 1/4 of a mile at that pace and I still felt amazing. In fact I felt like I could push it a lot faster. So I made the decision to keep my heart rate between 165 and 170 for a while to see how I felt.
For the first 5 miles I would occasionally get passed by someone who looked very fast. I didn't even think about it. My friends told me that eventually you settle in and you don't care about what the other people are doing. You mostly focus on one guy and try to beat him. So for the first five miles I would pick out someone up in the distance who looked a little goofy and try to catch up. The trick was to do it keeping my heart rate between 165 and 170.
The first guy I did this to was about 7 feet tall and he had on a skin tight blue Spandex jumpsuit. He was pretty fast but I caught him and never saw him again. I did this a few more times and then I was at the 5 mile point. I still felt great so I decided to keep my pace. Then another goofy looking guy passed me so I followed him for a mile. It wasn't that much of a jump in my heart rate to keep up with him so by the time I was at mile 6 my heart rate was solidly 170 and would jump above every once in a while. My pace would go between about 7:43 and 7:56.
Right before mile 6 I snarfed down a Power Gel.
Power Gel is concentrated sugar with salt and a little caffeine in it. I learned that from my friends D and Easy E. I don't think it makes you any faster but it perks you up a bit.
Also at mile 6 I grabbed a bottle of water and took a few sips. I still felt very strong and I decided to pick it up for the rest of the race.
I ran miles 6 to 8 with a heart rate between 173 and 178. My pace at that point varied between 7:30 and 7:43. The first thing I did was catch and pass the goofy looking guy that passed me back at mile 5. Then I started picking out people in the distance who looked strong. I caught a bunch of them and passed them.
From miles 6 to 10 I was passed by 2 people. The first one passed me at about mile 7.5 so I picked up my pace a little so that he couldn't get out of sprinting range. The second one came out of nowhere and passed me like I was standing still. I never saw him again.
From miles 8 to 9 I kept my heart rate between 177 and 180. This put my pace during that stretch at 7:03. I closed the distance a little on the guy that passed me at mile 7.5.
The last mile I did in a dead out sprint. My heart rate was at 182 for the entire last mile. My predicted maximum is 186 so I was running at 98% of my predicted maximum heart rate. The fastest heart rate I have ever actually recorded was 184.
I passed the guy! When I passed him I heard him gasp. He started sprinting to catch up to me and I could hear his feet back there pounding and he sounded like a steam engine sucking wind. And the more he huffed and puffed the harder I ran. He never caught me. Thankfully my wife was just a few feet before the finish line and caught some of the action.
Thats me in the yellow! Here is a little more action.
I crossed the finish line at 1:17:55. My average heart rate for the run was 171 and my average pace was 7 minute 47 second miles. That isn't a very good time as far as competitive running goes but it was certainly good for me. I was happy with my effort.
There were guys who finished in like 55 minutes! Holy smokes batman. I think they must have an extra bone in their ankle or something. I might be able to do that in a car.
The next big race I am training for is the Kentucky Derby Festival Half Marathon.
I think this year's race is going to be April 26th. People come from all over the world to race so I will most certainly get smoked.
Between now and then I want to drop 10 more pounds and gradually improve my speed. After I get our taxes paid I want to buy a bicycle so that I can ride the bike on days between my runs for some hot cross-training action.