Sunday, February 12, 2017

Blacksburg Classic 2017 : some crazy wind out there!

Today was my fourth year in a row at this race.  My time to beat was set the first year I ran it, when I finished in 1:10:14.  After that first year, I got a minute slower each year.  So today's primary goal was to not continue the trend and be another minute sooner.  And what I really wanted to do was finally PR this race.  I know I am stronger right now than I was the last 2 years, and possibly stronger than the first time I ran this race, although it's debatable.  When I ran it in 2014 I was a month into my first bout of tendonitis and still pretending it wasn't a big deal, but since I was only a month in my legs and lungs were still strong even if my foot wasn't.

I have run numerous half marathons at a faster pace than I have ever run this race, and I think wind is the main factor there.  It is always windy in Blacksburg.  This has been confirmed by someone who went to college there.  There are some stretches of the Huckleberry Trail during the race where there is absolutely nothing to block the wind.  There was a stretch in the middle of the race today where it took a lot of energy just to keep my feet on the path.  But I put my head down and pushed into the wind, and that mile somehow was not my slowest of the race.  I know that wind cost me some energy though.

My goal was to start the race at a 7:30 pace and then gradually speed up, and finish around 1:10 (hopefully under).  I ignored all the people passing me in the first mile, and tried to keep an easy pace.  It was about 70 degrees so I was wearing a tank top, rather than a shirt that covered my watch, and I couldn't stop myself from looking at my 1 mile split.  Way too fast...but I decided to hope that the downhills were to blame and that the jogging effort was good enough.  I don't think I looked at my watch again until mile 5, when I looked to see how ahead or behind I was for a 1:10 finish.  I was at 35:35, which seemed perfect for a negative split race with a PR.  That was right around when the wind got bad, but also when I started to pass people.  I was in 5th place at the time, and took 4th early in that 6th mile.  2nd and 3rd were within my view, and I set my sights on them and slowly reeled them in.  I was right on 2nd place's heels when we hit a turn-round at mile 7.  I stayed on her heels for a bit as we were passing on-coming runners, and then I found an extra burst of energy and made my move.  I spent the rest of the race feeling like I was dying, but terrified that she would catch me again if I slowed down at all.

For awhile now, I have had trouble when dying in a race.  I lose energy and the willpower to fight for it.  Today I finally felt some of my grit coming back.  I was gasping for air, and my legs were getting tired, but when I hit the hills in those last few miles, I dug deep and pushed harder, and my body responded.  A moment later I would start to die again, and feel like I had to give up, but each time, I was able to dig deep and find something more.  That is a piece that has been missing in my races, and I am so happy to have it back!  The hill towards the finish line was rough, but I knew the finish was just over the crest, and I managed to kick it up the hill and sprint the final curve to the finish.  I finished in 1:10:50.  Not the PR I had hoped for, but no regrets.  I ran an amazing race and I bet if I hadn't had to fight that wind I would have had my PR.  After 3 years of injuries, I am finally getting myself back, and I continue to be excited about what I will accomplish in races this year!

HR profile certainly says I ran hard...that's an awful lot of time in Z5!

My race buddies and I showing up to the race in style. 
(Straight from church)

Ready to race!  But still have 45 minutes to kill.

All of us survived and have recovered enough to smile!

Top 3 females. 
Somehow my name didn't end up on the awards list but thankfully 3rd place was honest and told them I was definitely in front of her...and they got it fixed. 

2nd place trophy + $75 gift card to RunAbout Sports

$25 from last year's 3rd place + $75 from this year's 2nd place = I get to buy new shoes!
Ben snapped this of some point after this there were 2 or 3 more pairs there. 
The ones on my feet in this picture are actually the ones I ended up with : Brooks Glycerin. 
I still had to pay $40 after the gift cards, but the salesman said they are supposed to be a higher-mileage shoe, so hopefully if I am diligent about going back and forth between these and my mizuno wave enigmas, I will be able to get (dare I hope for) 400 miles out of them.  

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