Friday, June 08, 2012

Rust Buster Mile

I feel pretty tarnished at this stage of my running career, still functional but not sleek and shiny and no matter how much polish and elbow grease you apply that luster of youth and speed will not return. Still it's fun to enjoy these twilight racing years.

First all comers meet of the year was at West Valley HS last night and we actually had a decent turnout for one of these very low key events. Maybe a dozen participants and eight or nine running the mile, which was my focus this week. After some encouraging workouts in recent weeks I felt confident and ready to run low 5s, say 5:02 to 5:05, but that was not to be. I did a 4 mile shake out run with the kids on the trails earlier in the day and that felt fine, and then did about 3 miles of warm up in the evening. Maybe that was too much, I don't know, but I could feel that my legs felt a bit of lactic acid and metabolic junk just doing the pre-race stride outs.

As we lined up I was encouraged to see some younger guys in the mix, who would hopefully help set the pace, or at least set a good pace to chase. I think the rest of us were age 50 and over.

However, after the gun it was strange to be running slower than my planned 2:32 for 800 but to be leading the darn thing for a lap and a half. Came through in 78 for 400--too slow--and Devin (former state 3200 meter champion) took over on the backstretch. I tried to tread that fine line between hanging with him while not blasting too fast in the middle part of the race. 800 was about 2:35 (77 sec) with Devin about two or three seconds up, and Ted on my heels. Third lap is usually everyone's weakest, but for the past several years it's tended to be my fastest. I take the mind over matter approach and it's where my head gets into the race. Devin stretched his lead to a good 10 seconds and Ted went past on the far curve and pulled away on the homestretch as we lapped a couple runners.

Ted took off in pursuit of Devin, leaving me in no man's land and a 1200 split of about 3:49-50 (74/75) and I figured 5:05 was still in grasp. I tried to kick on the back stretch but didn't pick up anything, and then made some rookie errors: looked at my watch with 200 to go (4:30-31) and took maybe 40-50 meters thinking about the implications. Tried again to kick with about 150 to go, but also was not able to shift gears, Finally, over the final two steps I let up a little. NO, you run through the finish line! So it was 79-80 for the final 409 meters to finish in 5:09.6 (best since 2009, but still nine seconds slower than then).

I didn't get anyone else's time but the youngsters both went well under 5, and three or four of us geezers (Dave and Geoff for sure) were a ways under 6 minutes.

Age grading it came out pretty good for me, 84.9, which according to the calculator equates to 4:22.1. That's faster than my personal best, and that's why I'm semi-skeptical of the time conversion aspect of it all. I do have eight or 10 seconds in me and was never anything near a 4:12-4:15 miler back in the day.

I do think the sub 5 is there, but with my upcoming race plan (and local race schedule) this is going to be tough--5000 next week, 10K, followed by Flint Hill Mile with only a short recovery. I could use one more week to about July 5 with rabbits and perfect pacing. Nevertheless I'm going to give it a go on the 28th and resolve not to run any slower than 2:31/3:46 for 880/1320 yard splits and hopefully the skies will open and something good will happen on that last lap.


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