Monday, May 4, 2015

Day 3,048: My first Master's win ... and first time taking a wrong turn off course

I signed up for this evening's May the Fourth (Miler) Be With You race at the last minute thinking why not, since it was going to be held in nearby Piedmont Park.

Another carrot was that awards were going to be three-deep in age groups and it could be a good opportunity to make a PR in a 4-mile race (I've only run in four of these prior to this).

What I wasn't sure about was what an extra mile in a race would do to my run speed and also what it would be like to run in an evening race with evening heat (81 degrees).

My thought was I would try to run as much as I could at a 7:30/mile pace, which over 4 miles would easily break my PR of 30:41.

The race started fast and I was constantly trying to keep my pace down -- it started around 6:30/mile pace and then was hovering around a 7:00/mile pace when I encountered a puzzle.

There was a directional arrow for the race in between the fork that leads up to the Atlanta Botanical Garden and down by the tennis courts. Since I've run in several races here, I took the path near the tennis courts.

When I rounded the corner, I immediately knew I was in the wrong -- there were no directional arrows pointing up the path. So I turned around and went back to the way everyone was running -- a third route in between the Active Oval and the tennis courts.

It added .15 mile to my race. What happened was when the race started I was behind five runners and the first four quickly left our sight. I was behind a guy with a green lightsaber and he went the correct way and I did not, thinking he was wrong. After I backtracked I noted where was on the turnaround and that he was now a minute ahead of me.

At that point I decided not to worry about pace and then just ran evenly. I ran into another conundrum down the path to the dog park -- there appeared to be a turn onto the boardwalk that cuts over to the dog park.

One lady (who ended up being overall Masters female) asked which way to go. I saw two runners up on the path to the dog park so I told her the path was the way to go instead of the boardwalk. But when we reached the part of the path the boardwalk runs into, there was another lady running down it! She yelled something at the lady and at first I thought there was going to be some kind of argument over cutting the course. But they eventually continued on.

After exiting the bowl, the lady who became overall Masters female asked a guy which way to go. I was thinking we would turn to go up the path that parallels 10th Street but he said straight. I'm glad he was there at that moment because it was the correct way to go.

I knew the incline up the path near 10th Street would be a little bit of a bear. When I got to the base of the hill, the guy with the lightsaber was at the top of the hill and had slowed somewhat. I ended up passing him down the switchback back to the bottom of the hill.

When we exited the switchback, I was in unique territory -- I was in the exact location of my 400 interval training with the end of the interval at the race finish!

So I decided to wait until then (although my data says at the end of the switchback I was running at a 6:47/mile pace) and then I took off down the path to the finish like I would starting an interval. I decided I would remain in that gear as long as possible, saving any kind of kick if the guy with the lightsaber passed me.

But I could hear he wasn't and in the final turn only started my kick -- I ended at a sub-5:00/mile pace!

It was a great race -- at first I thought I was third overall male but then when they had the results on a small flatscreen I could see I wasn't -- the three men and one woman who finished ahead of me beat me by 5 minutes!

But then I noticed they were all in their 30s, putting me in the very unique spot of being the first Master's male.

The race wasn't what I expected and the result wasn't what I expected. But it was a great race and a nice outing with my brand-new racing flats. They only had six miles on them and I had blisters and a bloody shoe the last time I ran with them but today they were perfect.

Time: 6:30 p.m.
Temp: 81 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Champion, blue), shorts, Saucony Type A6.

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