Monday, June 24, 2013

Midnight Sun Run 2013: That one hurt!

I'll admit that there is a certain edginess to my running, but it is also something that I can't explain all that well either. Maybe it's just that I've never quite outgrown being 19-20 with people flipping trash my way all the time, so I am out there to prove something. Maybe I just like wrestling with these demons and pre-race angst. One thing for certain, I don't really enjoy grinding through the 4th mile of a 10K knowing that I'm slowing down and not sure how much longer I can hang on.

But like Jackson Browne's Pretender, this time next year I'll get up and do it again. Amen.

This year I didn't get all that nervous with butterflies--maybe once or twice briefly the day before--but as Saturday and the evening ensued this feeling of dread began to weigh heavily. I just knew this would be a tough one. Felt it.

At about 70, it didn't feel too hot but at the same time it was about 5 or 6 degrees warmer than comfortable for a 10K. I warned the kids and reminded myself to run easy--on pace--for the first mile. That didn't really work out for any of us. The field was deep this year, a lot of good runners lined up including several unknowns from out of town. Some in disguise.

Nervous energy. Masters runner Mike Kramer (5th)  looks out on the course; race winner Dylan Anthony is painted in brown, wearing green shorts 3rd from left; I'm (820) in white hat with the boys (Tristan bent over in red top, Mikko in white top (822), Peter (726), and Kuba black hat in the middle/left of the startline. (photo Fairbanks Daily NewsMiner)

The howitzer went off about a minute after 10, and I hadn't run more than 10 meters when I took a sharp elbow to my forearm from a U-Alaska Anchorage female runner, painted up and dressed to kill, as a bird: feathers, beak and all. She said sorry, but all that I could think then and for the next 5 minutes was ow! OW! Ow, that hurt. Two days later it still hurts.

The lead group wasn't too terribly fast but everyone took it out pretty hard. I was somewhere in the 30s at the mile, which was 5:42, a good 10 sec faster than planned. I eased up slightly in mile 2 and gradually slid by a few groups of runners in the shaded neighborhoods south of the UAF campus, and hit the 2 mile in 11:36 (a more reasonable 5:54). I was just hoping that first mile wouldn't come back to haunt me, as I was already feeling it, mostly in my gut and semi-nauseous when we turned onto University Avenue. I was in about 20th place. 

Picked off a few on that long stretch along the four lane boulevard, crossing 3 miles at 17:24 and 16th place. 

Your friendly blogger at 3.5 miles
The 4th mile is usually my toughest, or more precisely 3.5 to 4.5 on this course. It's just a long stretch and we're strung out by there. I was in with skiers, Tyson about 8 seconds up, with college skiers Vanya and Stephan 5 or 10 seconds back.

Just past 4 miles (23:40; although I don't think that was a 6:16 mile!), where I took a sip of water over a tight and protesting stomach, Vanya and Stephan caught back up. I uttered some nonsense, like this is what we've been waiting for isn't it, and started to fall back on my heels. Vanya pulled way a few times and it took all my energy to keep him from breaking away. It was just a matter of hanging on. Slowly, Tyson was coming back to us. 5 miles 29:27 (5:46?), and I figured I could do it. We passed through the biggest of dozens of block parties--I could smell the alcohol in the air, but at least they weren't throwing it us as they had in the past.

One last insult from a guy on a bike "cmon guys, show a little pride in your running and pick it up!" with woman cackling in Doppler effect behind me, and I started to pull away from Tyson and Vanya and focusing on the next guys, 15-20 sec up, two of the boys whom I coach. I've had some really good final miles in the past on this course, but not on Saturday. Just chalk it up as adequate: I got through it without losing my dinner. Crossed mile 6 in 35:24 (a 5:55).

Unfortunately, that's just what happened to poor Kuba at 6 miles. He had to stop. I cruised through the park, careful not to have a stereo act. Vanya and Tyson were on my tail but I had enough of a gap to hold them off.

Finish didn't come a moment too soon, 13th place in 36:35. That was a hard fought effort.

Oh and my arm? 10 minutes after finishing it started aching again. OWWW! A freakin hematoma.

Kuba (l) and Mikko (r) collect their Midnight Sun Run scholarship awards!


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