Two nights ago, I tried a different kind of race, a one-hour run sponsored by the DC Roadrunners. Not having done one of these before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I was even more uncertain when I got to the track at St. Stephen’s about 20 minutes before race time and saw only about 4 or 5 other runners there. Had it been canceled?
I checked with someone who appeared to be the race director and sure enough, the race was still on. So I went back to my car, changed to my flats, and got ready. Eventually a few more runners showed up, including one who I recognized as Ted Poulos, one of the top master’s runners in the area. This guy is 48 years old, and he can still bang out a 5k in under 17 minutes. That’s well ahead of what I can do. Clearly he would be my most formidable competition and a big favorite to win but maybe I could keep him close, I thought and surprise with a big finish.
A few minutes later all 7, or 8 or 10 of us, I’m not even sure how many, lined up at the start and off we went. As we came around for the first lap I was in the lead, thinking, this can’t be right. And with a 400 split of about 90 seconds, it definitely wasn’t. Before long Poulos passed me and I thought to myself “whew, I didn’t want to try and hold that pace for an hour.” So I settled into second, while he pulled away.
From that point on I was running alone as the field really strung itself out. I’m not sure when Poulos finally lapped me but in the meantime I lapped the whole rest of the field. When he did finally catch me, I thought I did a decent job of keeping him close for a while, until about the 43 minute mark or so, when I seemed to hit a low spot. But I kept plugging away and eventually caught my second wind, and with about 7 minutes to I knew I was ready to finish strong, even if I wasn’t about to make up 600 meters.
For each of the final laps I got faster and stronger and was definitely hauling on the final 400. I even closed up about 100 meters of that 600-meter gap, so I was happy with that even if Poulos was just cruising home at that point. All told I completed 35 laps total, plus a little over half of a 36th lap. So I was very close to completing 9 miles…not bad considering I’m definitely not in top form right now. Based on my own very rough estimates I ran about a 6:48/mile pace, which is right about the pace where my half-marathon PR sits.
It wasn’t a bad night’s work as it turns out. It was a nice tempo run and to boot, I can now say I’m the second place finisher in the 2010 Road Runner’s Club of America’s Virginia championship race for the 1-hour run. I didn’t know this race served that purpose in addition to being just another club race, until I got there. But I’m certainly not complaining.
Up next is a 5k on Saturday, and it looks like a fast field will be on hand. I won’t be finishing second in that one but hopefully I can score something in the age group. Also it’s time to resurrect the chase for sub-19! 😉