Sunday, July 24, 2011

Race Report: Opening Act 5K

For years, St. Louis has hosted two major marathons every year. The Go! St. Louis Marathon is every April and the Lewis & Clark Marathon was every September. But this year, things are changing. The Lewis & Clark race is no more. In it's place, St. Louis will be hosting it's first marathon in the Rock 'n' Roll series this October.

I won't be running St. Louis' Rock 'n' Roll Marathon this year because I'm running New York two weeks later. Liz and I are volunteering at the race instead. With all of the marathons I've run, I've never volunteered at a race and I'm looking forward to cheering runners on for a change.

As a warm-up for the Rock 'n' Roll marathon, Fleet Feet sponsored the Opening Act 5K today. To stick with the rock 'n' roll theme, they had a couple of DJ's on the course playing music and a band named 'Surrender Dorothy' played a post-race concert.

The race started at 8:00am and they were expecting around 1,500 runners so Liz and I got to the parking lot a little after 7:00am. Between the large number of participants and the half-mile walk to the starting area, we wanted to make sure we had plenty of time before the start of the race. Of course, as is my habit, I planned too much time and we were able to sit around a while before the start.

It was a hot morning but I was still hoping to run well because I expected a flat course. The race was in Chesterfield and every race I've ever run in Chesterfield has been pancake flat. To cut down on congestion, Fleet Feet staged runners in corrals based on their predicted finish times. Each corral was allowed to start about one minute after the corral in front of them. That way, the mob of runners was staggered right from the start. I was in the first corral and Liz was two corrals back.

The good thing about starting at the very front of a race like this is I don't have to worry about getting boxed in behind slower runners and I can keep an eye on how many people are ahead of me. The bad thing is, I have a tendency to front-run and take off too fast in the first mile. I have a really bad habit of taking off too fast... feeling like I'm managing my pace but I'm not. I stay as close to the front as I can but I usually burn myself out and spend the last part of the race just trying to hold on the best I can. At that point, I'm hoping to keep as many people from passing me as possible. In and ideal race, I would take the first mile easy, run negative splits, increase my speed as the race went on, and spend the last part of the race running people down.

Today I went out too fast.

I knew going into the race that they were only giving awards to the top 5 finishers. No age group awards today. Normally, I wouldn't expect to finish in the top 5 unless it was a much smaller race, but I thought I would see how it went. Very early on I found myself in 6th place and thought the pace was manageable. I reached the first mile marker at 6:11 and realized I was moving faster than I thought. I also started to realize that I was mistaken when I expected the course to be flat. We were basically running the roads around Chesterfield Mall and it was hilly. I'm used to hills and this was tough.

(I found this elevation map for the race but I don't think it does justice to how hard the hills were.)

I was moving up and made my way into 4th place but I was also starting to feel hot and tired. I was breathing too hard and knew this probably wasn't going to end well. I ran the second mile in 6:22 but I could feel the meltdown coming. I had gone too fast too early and the heat and hills were getting to me. Between miles 2 and 3, I slipped to 5th and eventually 6th place. With a half mile to go, I was passed and fell into 7th. I was able to put on a burst near the finish and cross just ahead of that last guy to finish in 6th place but with the chip timing, I finished 7th by 2 seconds in a time of 20:04. I ran the last 1.1 miles in 7:31. I was 21 seconds away from 5th place.

It was a good time considering the heat and the course but it could have been much better if I had run a smarter race.

After grabbing a bottle of water, I went back to cheer Liz down the home stretch. She ran 32:50... a great time for her considering the conditions. She mixed in some walking and her knee was acting up again today and she still ran a good time.

After the race, we hung out to listen to the music and take advantage of the post race snacks (water, soda, chips, cookies, bananas, and sweet rolls). We chatted with some friends (congrats Erin, Sharon, and Margo) and enjoyed Chesterfield's new amphitheatre.

It was a fun race but I'm craving cooler weather.

Goal For The Day: Race!
Distance: 3.10 Miles.
Conditions: 85 degrees/humid. 8:00AM.

Time: 32:50. 10:35 Avg.
448th out of 1,035 Finishers.
220th out of 675 Women.

Time: 20:04. 6:28 Avg.
7th out of 1,035 Finishers.
7th out of 360 Men.

Notes: Can't remember another 5K with more hills. The heat and humidity were awful. I keep underestimating Liz's ability to cope with tough race conditions. She still turned out a time faster than I expected. Feeling good about my fitness but I should race smarter. A concrete at Culver's tonight and my Long Run tomorrow morning!

Daily Miles: 3.10 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 127.32 Miles.
  Bike - 67.68 Miles.
  Swim - 4,450+ meters.

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