Record Breaking Weekend

Two races, in two days, and two new personal records.  Normally, I wouldn’t scheduled 2 races on 1 weekend, but I already booked the Hall of Fame Half Marathon in Utica when Sandy said that we should do the Komen Race For the Cure 5k.  I’d contemplated doing both in the same weekend previously, but always opted for the latter, since I’m by no means a speed demon at short distances.  But, with a bunch of (unofficial) speedwork under my belt thus far this spring, I had a little itch to try out my speed legs again.  So, Thursday night, we signed up.

I was a little surprised to see that the Komen Run didn’t start until 10:15, seems kinda late to me (but not that far off as the Goat also starts at the same time.)  Was pleasantly surprised that when we walked out the door to head over the fairgrounds, it was a pleasant 60 degrees.  I thought it was supposed to be cooler.  The wildcard factor was the wind.  It was howling pretty good in DeWitt.  Pulling up in the far parking lot (far side of 690 that is) we found that wind was even crazier over there.  On the walk across the pedestrian bridge, I kept a firm grip on my (favorite) Rochester Marathon cap.

After getting Sandy situated with her run/walk buddies, I headed over the starting line.  Wow, they had pace markers down to 5 minute miles.  After running the Komen many times before, I was happy to see that they’ve gotten rid of all the walkers who always to try to sneak in at the front of the queue and get railroaded by all the runners.  So, this year, it was just slow runners in the way.  I lined up at the 6:30 marker (some what ambitously) and noted a lot of folks who could maybe do an 8 minute mile on their best day.  There was some last minute race instructions that I couldn’t make out and then horn kicked things off.

Happily, the howling wind was a head wind on the way out.  Guess its been a while since I did the Komen, as they changed the course a little bit.  Rather than an out and back on the far north west corner of the fairgrounds, the course now takes a detour down the midway section before heading out to the far perimeter.  Not a bad change, but there’s some drainage culverts to keep an eye out for.  The wind was still pretty gusty, but there was one terrifically strong gust as I rounded that far corner and headed down the back stretch.  A few hats were blown off and everybody suffered through the shower of dirt kicked up.

I chugged my way down the back stretch only passing a few people, but more importantly not getting passed by anyone else.  2 more turns and I’m headed straight into the finish.  I heard the announcer call out my name and I sailed under the finish banner with my arms held high.

Right before the race, Sandy asked how long I thought I’d take.  I said “about 20 minutes”, half kidding. She rolled her eyes, yeah, whatever buddy.  After getting my timer chip clipped off, I glanced at my watch.  20:37!  Good enough for 6th in my age group and besting my previous 5k PR of 22:35.  Playing the what if game a bit, I wonder if I didn’t have the wind interference if I could have broken 20 minues.  No complaints though; I can totally live with that for a race I didn’t really train for.

I turned around and stared walking back through the course to meet up with Sandy again.  As I walked I noted that my left calf was kinda sore.  By the time I caught up with her again about half way through the course, it was geting pretty angry.  Oh, nusts, did I just kill off the half marathon I was gonna do the following day?

I tried to catch a nap in the after noon, but after some phone calls and other random interruptions, I wasn’t able to keep my eyes closed for more than 10 minutes.  So, I did some more chores and got myself to bed early.  I was really worried that I’d have to bag the half marathon.  I had trouble getting to sleep and couldn’t find a comfortable position.

In the morning, I felt pretty rested and the leg was better, but still not 100%.  I got the GI processes going, took a quick shower, packed up and hit the Thruway, Utica bound.  I got Utica about 7 and breezed through the packet pickup.  I went back to the car to suit up.  Unlike yesterday, its pretty chilly out;  about 46 and a strong cold wind on top of that.

I conveniently remembered that there are nice warm bathrooms with no lines and no waiting (as opposed to portapotties) in the train station that I adjacent to.  Still had about 20 minutes to kill, so I went back to the car and killed the time.   Ok, 15 minutes to go.  I got out of the car and decided that it wouldn’t hurt to make another quick bathroom stop.  Man, I’m glad I did, I was way more hydrated than I thought.  Leaving the nice warmth of the station again, I headed over to the starting line.

Turns out that the Hall of Fame Half Marathon was rejiggered a bit since last time I ran it as well.  The starting line is about a quarter mile further west on Broad Street.  Unfortunately, this area is a lot wider open.  I had a pretty serious case of the shivers waiting for the gun.  There were a lot of runners far more serious than me that were going with short sleeves.  Man, I was very glad that I brought my long sleeve shirt and gloves.  After a few plugs for other races, we were off.

I shivered a few times through the first mile or so, but eventually started to warm up.  I was little worried about my feet.  They seem to take long and longer to warm up.  Its a pretty strange feeling when your running along and can’t really feel your toes.  By the end of the second mile, everything was finally up to temperature.

The headwind wasn’t quite as strong as the day before, but cold and annoying, nonetheless.  My eyes were watering something fierce and it didn’t take long for my lips to chap.  I was happy to hit a section on the canal trail where the brush closed right in on the trail and there was little bit of a break from the wind.  I had just passed someone as we started that part who exclaimed, “wow its so nice to be out of the wind.”  I looked back with a smile on face and said, “hey, I’m not that fat, am I?” and got a few giggles in return.

Despite a pretty good number of entrants (~200), I ran most of the middle of the race alone.  Guess I’m faster than the slow pokes, but not yet ready to roll with the contenders.  After what seemed like an eternity, I ran past the Lock 20 canal park.  Phew, not much longer to the turnaround.  Here come the leaders on their way back.  Nice to see I’m not all that far behind.

After the turn around, I was very happy to be out of the headwind.  I was hoping for a big boost on the way back, but it just didn’t seem to be there.  Quite to the contrary actually for mile 7.  I just couldn’t keep up with a few people that leisurely strolled passed me.   I was little crampy, but not so bad.  I just kept slogging on and it seemed to pass.  I took a few sips of Gatorade and I started to feel back on track.

Just before mile 11, there’s a place where the canal breaks up a bit to detour around a parking lot and some railroad tracks.  There’s a pretty good little hill to climb back up the regularly scheduled trail.  I was happy to close up a little of the gap between me and some guy I’d been chasing for the last 4 miles.  He appeared to be slowing just a touch.

Just as I passed him, he asked if I had the time.  Gritting my teeth a bit, I looked at my watchand reported 1:19.  He said, wow, I think we’re gonna break 1:40.  Oh crap.  I wished him well and picked it up a little more.  I was happy that I was on that pace but really worried about the choke factor.  Come on Crowther, only 2 miles and some change to go, keep it up.

After the climb from the trail back up to Genesee Street, I was a little worried that I may have given all I could.   I heard footsteps fast approaching and heavy breathing on my heels.  The wind was now coming at a kinda strange cross angle that was blowing back and forth across the road.   I pulled my hat down a little tigher and began to grunt out the final mile.

I don’t think I sped up all that much, but the footsteps faded back into the distance.  One more uphill and one more downhill to go.  My mind is telling me that the final climb over the rail road tracks is gonna be a killer, but my body says no big deal and I power up and over without any hassles.  At the peak of the hill, a race coordinator with a stopwatch calls out 1:34:15.  One downhill to go.  Must as well give it everything, I’m not getting passed in the final stretch.  20 feet to go and the announcer welcomes me in.  I cross the mats with both arms raised, then quickly click the stop on my watch.

After getting my chip clipped, I peel back my sleeve to look at my time, 95:26!  After setting a PR yesterday, I was hoping for something in the neighborhood of my PR, not beating my PR by over 10 minutes (formerly 106:40, at the ARC last year.)

Now that the running was done, the cold wind was starting to catch up with me.  I headed over to the runners’ tent and grabbed a bagel and watched the award ceremony for the 5k race.  After confirming my time on the post race print out (to make sure I wasn’t delirious with runner’s high) and to see that I didn’t place for an age group victory, I decided it was time for a warm car and a refreshing shower at my Mom’s house.

Funny, but the next story on my blog was gonna be another waxing tail of runners funk.  I haven’t much ambition at all lately when it comes to training.  Everything feels good once I get going, but I just can’t seem to get out the door.  Maybe the few extra days off were just what I needed, as evident from the results above.  Hopefully, the good tidings of recent will keep my on track for a record breaking Boilermaker.

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