Monday, August 20, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Mahomet 5k

On Saturday August 18th , 2012 I ran in the 17th annual Mahomet Area Youth Club 5k.  This is a hometown race for me and it is a challenging yet fun event.  Being a hometown event it is nice because you know and see a lot of familiar faces.
Race day couldn’t have been better as the temperature was in the low 50’s with no humidity.  This was probably coolest it has ever been for this event.  Usually it is hot and humid this time of year.  It is also nice to not have to drive to a race.  Just rolled out of bed and my warm up run was the mile to the start line. 

Time: 19:25 (Personal Best)
Overall Finish: 12/450
Age Group Finish: 1/16

This was my second time running this 5k and my goal was to run it in under 20 minutes.  Last year I ran this race in 20:23.  The course is slightly challenging.  The first mile or so is downhill to flat, the second and third mile include about every hill Mahomet has, then you finish with a lap around the high school track.

To get a sub 20 minute time I knew I would have to conquer the Turkey Farm Road and State Street portion of the race.  This is the part of the race that is primarily uphill with rolling hills.  I run these roads all the time, but I have trouble maintaining a good pace on this stretch of road and it is a mental barrier to me.

This is the first run race that I had a specific game plan for.  I broke the race down into 3 sections or checkpoints.  To get under 20 minutes I knew I had to be at those checkpoints at a certain watch time.  I wrote what my watch time needed to be at these checkpoints on my hand before the race.  This would either mentally defeat me or really motivate me. 

I ran the first mile at a really fast pace of 5:54 which is faster than I really wanted to.  Shortly after the first mile, and before the uphill portion began, I started to slow down just a bit.  That is when a 13 year old, who I know and we always finish close to each other said, “come on man we got this, let’s go”.  I was thought to myself, “that’s great man see you at the finish you go get it”.  After that split second thought I was like alright man here we go.  I hit my first checkpoint faster than planned which was very motivating.

The hardest part of the race for me was just around the corner.  A mental battle that had to be won today.  With the first checkpoint successfully completed I tried to keep focus by picking off runners that were doing the half marathon ahead of me.  This kept me mentally focused.  Made up Turkey Farm road at a fast pace. 

Then State Street.  I run on this road everyday and I cuss it every time.  It’s a street that brings down my average on every single run.  There were two hills in front of me before I got to my next checkpoint.  Knowing if my time is below the 2nd checkpoint time I would have a great chance to get a sub 20 minute time.  Bam, I am ahead of schedule!  Take that State Street.  Today I beat you.  There were was one more hill after my checkpoint but it wasn’t that bad. 

My final checkpoint was at the gate where you run into the track at the high school.  Looked at my watch and was still ahead of my expected time.  In fact, at that moment, I realized that I have a chance to get a personal best 5k time.  Onward I went for  the last 400 meters in a dead sprint.

 Stopped the watch and it read 19:25 and I was pretty pumped up about it.  My previous 5k record was 19:31 on a very flat course.  So to get a personal best at this race that was a little more challenging is  awesome.

This is a great race that seems to grow every year.  It is well organized, well executed, and supported by the community.  Race swag included an event t-shirt and other various items from the sponsors.  After the race there was plenty of water, Gatorade, and numerous food options.  There was a DJ playing music near the finish line which is nice.  Results and awards were done in a timely fashion.

A great hometown race for this homeboy.  Mission accomplished.

Two more missions to go for this year.  First is to qualify for the 2013 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship Race and run a sub 20 minute 5k at the Run For The Library in November. 

Train.  Race.  Repeat

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Race Report: Tri Indy 2012 Olympic Distance

My first Olympic distance triathlon with a unique venue.  On August 5th, 2012 I ventured away from my normal sprint distance races and did Tri Indy Olympic distance triathlon.  This was my longest triathlon to date and the race was a success as I beat my goal time by nearly 4 minutes.

This triathlon is a 1500 meter open water swim, 24.85 mile bike, and a 6.21 mile run.  The venue took place in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana.  It was definitely a unique venue with the swim being in the canal, the race site in downtown, and the bike and run through the city.  The main race site area was located in the White River State Park in front of the NCAA Hall of Champions in the shadow of the downtown Indy skyline.  The race was delayed by 30 minutes.  About 5:30 that morning a big storm pushed through the area with a lot of lightning and heavy rain.

Race Summary
Since I have never done an Olympic distance triathlon there was no personal record to beat.  My goal was to finish in 2:30:00 which was estimated on how my performances and training rides have been during the past 30 days leading up to this race.  Here are my official times:

Swim:               31:54
Transition 1:       1:30
Bike:              1:05:12 (22.9mph avg)
Transition 2:       1:47
Run:                 46:17 (7:27/mi avg)
Total Time: 2:26:39

Overall Place: 65/430
Age Group:      15/50

The Swim
The swim takes place in the four feet deep  canal in downtown.  After I got my transition all setup I made the 1 mile walk up to the swim start.  The canal area was really nice and made the walk enjoyable.  Every once and a while on my walk I wondered how “clean” this canal really is.  I was assured the canal was clean and safe to swim in.  I would again have the same thought after the swim when I noticed my swim cap changed colors.  As of today, I haven’t grown a sixth toe or anything so I think I am ok.
Once I got to the start area I did a little stretching and got in the canal for a quick and short warm up.  It was a time trial start with racers going off about every 2-3 seconds.  The bottom of the canal had a lot of little rocks on it which made for an interesting landing when my heel landed on one.  Ouch! 
I was able to get up to speed and maintain a steady pace throughout the swim.  Sighting wasn’t difficult as I used the canal walls to be my guide.  With this canal swim your friends and family can practically walk the swim with you.  It was definitely nice and encouraging when you came up for air to see your family right there cheering you on.  I never really encountered a lot of congestion.  There was some traffic I had to fight through but it wasn’t that bad.
Overall, I was happy with my swim.  It was nearly 3 minutes slower than what I do 1500 meters in the pool, but that’s expected.

Transition #1
 Once out of the canal there is a short run to transition.  You were assigned racks by your race number.  The rack I was in was in a decent location.  I got there early enough that I was able to get on the end.  I was able to get my bike shoes and helmet on pretty fast and was on my way out to the bike course.  Since I put my bike shoes on in transition I had to weave around the transition area in an effort not to get mud all in my cleats from the heavy rain 2 hours prior.

The Bike
The bike course was flat with some nice paved portions and some areas with small pot holes and cracks.  The course is a two loop course which takes you over railroad tracks in each loop.  The first railroad track was a real issue.  The organizers had mats covering the tracks and a volunteer there warning you to slow down.  The issue was that with the rain before the race the mats were wet and slippery.  On both of my loops there was a wipe out by at least one racer.  The second railroad track wasn’t much of an issue.
There was a part of the course that was kind of rough.  I think it was the stretch between mile 5 and mile 8 (loop 1) and mile 17 to mile 20 (loop 2).  From what I remember it was the area around the golf course.  There was a lot of potholes and cracks in the pavement.  It was a very bumpy ride.  I was pretty fortunate to make it the entire bike portion without any issues.  There was a lot of racers that were on the side of the road fixing flat tires.  Except for this stretch of the race I thought the bike route was pretty good.  There were a lot of turns but there were great volunteers and police at every turn and intersection.  For a urban bike route I think everyone did a nice job.
This was my first race with my new tri bike that I got a week before the race.  I was excited to see how it would do in race conditions.  I had my highest mph average to date.  I felt very good and controlled on the bike.  I was able to maintain a steady pace on my tri bike than I ever have on my road bike.  The turns and avoiding a couple of wrecks brought down my average a bit but I was really pleased with how my bike portion went. 
One cool part is the end of the bike route coming back to transition.  There were a lot of spectators lining the shoot which was pretty cool.
 Transition #2
 T2 didn’t go anywhere near as I planned it to.  It started when I tried to rack my bike.  From the time I left on my bike and when I got back one of my rack mates screwed up the entire rack.  My first attempt to rack my bike resulted in the entire rack practically falling over.  Keep in mind there were a few other bikes on the rack as well.  So I got the rack back up and tried again.  Complete fell again.  Then I figured out that the A-frame portion of the rack wasn’t in the correct position so I fixed it and successfully racked my bike.  By this time I was beyond flustered and a little pissed off.  I got my running shoes on and headed out to the run.  Just as I left transition I reached to push the lap button on my watch and realized my watch was still on my bike.  The issues from the wobbly rack distracted me enough that I didn’t grab my watch. 

The Run
I always run with my watch.  It tells me my current pace which really helps stay focused.  When I run without a watch I tend to slack off slightly.  With no watch and 6.21 miles to run I had to do it based on feel.
The run is a two loop course.  It was a nice and scenic run that took you behind the zoo and around the river.  The temperature was pretty good but the humidity could be felt on the run. 
I felt slow the entire run.  I kept thinking about my watch that was back in T2 ticking away and how I wish I had it.  I didn’t know if I was running 7 minutes miles or 9 minute miles.  After the first couple of miles I settled into a pretty rhythm and pace.  Since I was running based on how I felt I had to go back to my 5 mile run I did two days prior that I ran at a 7:25 average.  Since that training run was still fresh in my mind I was able remember how I felt during that run and was able to mimic that same pace in this race.  It was my only option. 
I knew this run wasn’t going to be at a 5k pace and was happy with finding a good and steady pace.  I was wanting to average 7:15 per mile, but with watch issue I was pleased with how I finished the run.

From packet pick up to crossing the finish the line I thought this event was well organized.  Volunteers were encouraging. 
Race swag included a cotton event shirt and a finisher medal.
The results were posted in a timely fashion and there was a lot of post race entertainment, refreshments, and food.  I particularly liked the chocolate milk that is served after the race.
The event site appeared to be spectator friendly.  While participants were on the bike and run there appeared to be a lot of things happening in and around the transition area to keep spectators entertained. 
It was nice that my parents and my younger brother with his family were able to come out to support and watch me.  Seeing a familiar face or hearing a familiar voice on race day can make a huge difference. 
I would definitely recommend this race to anyone. 

Train.  Race.  Repeat.