Tuesday, October 23, 2007

10/20/07: Double Trouble 5K & 10K

The Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers put on the Double Trouble 5K and 10K - for an extra five bucks on top of your entry fee you can officially enter both races. I've been a member of LGRAW for two years now - I joined when I signed up for my first Double Trouble in 2005 - so I can't claim to be able to impartially critique this race. If I were critical of the event I could claim impartiality but I can't think of anything negative to say. It's well-organized, well-provisioned, promptly-run; I wish the course was flatter but I can't say the hills come as a surprise given that I've run them a jillion times over the last few years.

I thought my running was stronger and more consistent at this time last year than it is right now, and these races brought that out. I thought the weather last year was warmer but the weather almanac for the Dallas Morning News doesn't bear that out - it shows it being 47 degrees for the race in 2005, 53 in 2006 and 59 this year. Last year I ran 22:05 and 50:42; this year my 5K (21:56) was slightly faster, but my 10K (52:38) was noticeably slower as the wheels started coming off in the fourth mile. My training lapses over the summer have cost me more in the way of strength than speed.

The 5K was similar to the TCU Breakaway 5K in that I slowed down throughout the race but differed in that the fall-off wasn't as drastic (6:53, 7:03, 7:21 as opposed to 6:56, 7:21, 7:45) and I was able to muster a kick past three miles (38 seconds for the last tenth as opposed to 50 at TCU). Of course, I had motivation in this race - I knew I needed a strong finish to break 22 minutes.

In retrospect, I went out too fast in the 10K, running splits of 8:04, 8:06, and 8:03 for the first three miles before slowing to 8:18 for the fourth mile, 8:50 for the fifth, and 9:32 for the sixth, and 1:46 for the last .2 There was some walking in each of the last two miles; after seven miles or so I was getting tired of running all these stupid uphills. So, I walked some of them although I ran up the last one because even though it's probably my most hated, it's also too close to the finish line and I just wanted to be done with the damn race.

I didn't place in my age group this year - the third place time was 20:02. I had placed each of the last two years - third place both times - so I was a little disappointed but mostly I was wondering where all these aging speedsters had come from. In the 5K, I finished 7th out of 20 in my age group, 23rd out of 106 men, and 25th out of 204. In the 10K I was 8th out 11 in my age group, 37th out of 78 men, and 48th out of 153 overall. I'm thinking of running a 10K this weekend to find out how I can do if I actually focus on that race.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

09/29/07: Fall Breakaway 5K

For the past few years I've wanted to run in TCU's (actually, the TCU chapter of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority's) Fall Breakaway 5K; this year I finally made it down there and I won't be in that much of a rush to hurry back. Or maybe I will, as long as I'm not intent on running a fast time. The race was held on a warm late-September Saturday and has a 9:00 am start time, by which time the temperature had already risen into the lower seventies. The course, which goes through TCU and the neighborhood north of campus, is consistently hilly - there are no individual killer hills, although I think the worst two are the last two on the course, but it constantly goes up and down. Except for starting and finishing in the parking lot between the baseball stadium and the soccer field, I don't remember very much in the way of flat ground.

The hills and heat wore me down and I staggered home in 22:51, 8th out of 16 in my age group, 40th out of about 120 men, and 43rd out of 194 total runners. My splits were 6:54 for a mostly downhill first mile, 7:20 for a moderately up hill second mile, and 7:46 for a more uphill third mile, and :50 for the last tenth. A couple of years ago I would have been happy with this race but now I expect to be more down closer to, and on either side of, 22 minutes. So I was disappointed with this race, but I think I've pretty much gotten over it.

The race was well-organized in some respects - despite a large number of race-day registrants, they started on time - and not so much in others. A lot of those race-day registrants didn't get their chips and bib numbers tied together so at the finish there were many unidentified runners. Apparently they had a way of correcting this but it was time-consuming - the race started at 9:00 and when I left at about 10:45, they still hadn't produced any results. I'm thinking there weren't too many people left by the time they did get the results done, but they did have them up on-line by mid-afternoon. They also ran out of water at the finish area, although they did come up with a few more cases after none had been available for maybe fifteen minutes.

I think they used to start over by the football stadium which I think would be much better - I think it would push more uphills into the earlier portions of the race and let you finish downhill. It would also create for a better parking situation, although as far as I could tell the parking situation worked out better than I would have anticipated, given that the lot they used isn't that big and they were using part of for the start/finish line. Then again, I don't think they got nearly the thousand runners that the girl who took my registration at Luke's on Friday said they anticipated.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

09/22/07: Tour de Fleurs 20K

2206 people - 1084 in the 20K and 1122 in the 10K - toured the fleurs around the Dallas Arboretum, White Rock Lake, and Lakewood on Saturday. Allegedly a race, I think it's really more like a bicycle ride or rally, whatever term they use for something like Hotter'N'Hell. The people up front really are racing but for most everyone else it is, or at least should be, an opportunity to get in a timed, well-supported long run while also scoring a new technical shirt and running cap. But I wouldn't come here looking to PR because it's going to be crowded and that crowd is going to include a plethora of novices, including many walkers, and those novices haven't the first clue about lining up appropriately and don't seem to be getting much instruction in that subject, either.

I lined up towards the back because I wasn't planning on pushing it and it was warm enough and I'm claustrophobic enough that I would have felt ill standing immersed in a crowd for more than a few minutes. Hanging out towards the back and towards the side, I had no problems. It did take me nearly six minutes (5:58.95 according to the results) to cross the starting line but the race was chip-timed so that wasn't a serious issue. I ran the first 10K in 53:15 and the second 10K, with two short walking breaks, in 57:29 for a total of 1:50:44, good for 393 overall, 264 out of 530 males, and 32 out of 69 in my age group. In short, pretty mediocre, but better than average for me for a warm-weather long run.

The first walking break was just before the ten-mile mark; I walked about a tenth of a mile, maybe a little longer, and then started running again at the marker. The second was at 11.3 miles or so and was across the bouncey pedestrian bridge at Garland Road. I hate that bridge and dread any White Rock Lake race that forces me to use it, which is virtually any long one. This race had a double whammy in that earlier we crossed the new pedestrian bridge just south of Mockingbird Lane, which may actually be worse for bouncing when a herd of runners crosses on it. Not only do these bouncing bridges make me feel ill, they also throw off my stride slightly as it seems like my foot is always coming into contact with the ground just before I expect it to.

The after party was on the grounds of the Arboretum, which I don't think I've ever been to before, and featured Emerald City Band, who were entertaining, especially the horn line who kept on wandering all over the place, and featured a female singer who reminded me of one the Team America puppets for some reason. They had a lot of stuff and people were leaving with boxes of goodies - bagels, fruit, iced-tea drinks and the like - but there wasn't a whole that appealed to me so I just drank a water and took an iced-tea for later.