Sunday, February 02, 2014

2014 Mid-Winter Classic Race Report

Topping last year's time of 1:03:45 would be tough, but that was the goal. The planets aligned last year to make it one of those races that takes one by pleasant surprise. Working for me this year was excellent fitness and lower weight, both better than last year. Also, the weather was very ideal; around 40 degrees, overcast and no wind. Working against me was a lot of mileage lately, specifically a big month in January that included a lot of snowshoe running and a 71 mile week last week. Also, I woke up with a head cold.. coughing up colored mucus. Crap.

It all went well though. At the risk of being somewhat anti-climatic, I didn't break my time, but I did accomplish something I haven't done at this race before.


Mile One
It became obvious that the race was more stacked this year than last. Lot's of folks out in front. Hooked up with Mike A. and rode his shoulder for a bit. Very fast, as this mile is downhill and the Garmin had me at 6:11.

Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
Miles Two to Four
Mile two has a set of rolling hills that are tough. It became obvious they took their toll on a few who went out too fast. Mike A. started to pull away here, as I figured he would. Was feeling pretty good overall during this stretch. Gloves were starting to bug me and as I came up on the water station, I looked to see if there was someone I knew. Thankfully, Sarah S. was there, and I ditched them with her.

Mile three had less hills and mile four is downhill and fast. Garmin splits reflect that: 6:38, 6:24 and 6:11. That mile two split is always my slowest one of the race, which held true today as well.

Linked up with a very tall fellow in an orange shirt here who was good company and we pulled each other along.

Miles Five to Seven
Continued to run with Tall Fellow for mile five. Split was 6:20 which was on track but I was starting to feel tired here. Wouldn't call the mindset ugly, but it wasn't exactly positive. Miles six and seven were slower, 6:26 and 6:29 respectively. Wasn't happy about that.

Got a boost when I saw Mindy somewhere into mile six, I think? She cheered loudly (thanks Mindy!) and I ditched the buff I was wearing. It was here that Ward B. and his brother caught up and we exchanged hellos. I was stoked to see him, he was THE reason I ran so well last year, providing an excellent pull. He offered some very kind words of encouragement and tried to get me to ride his shoulder but I was struggling a bit now and couldn't hang on.

Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
Miles Eight through Nine
Pace continued to dip. Was very surprised nobody passed me here. Splits were 6:35 and 6:36 respectively and I doubted even breaking 1:05 was possible. Looking back, I'm pretty disappointed in myself for the negative mindset here. It was a bit excessive.
Courtesy: Maine Running Photos
Mile Ten

Kind of got my mojo back. Split was around 6:20. Head aligned and was thinking more positive. Downhill helped pick up the pace and though there was an uphill, knowing I was almost done allowed me to pour it all into going up. Was passed by a younger fellow here and had no chance of catching him, but it didn't bother me.

Left hand turn to the school and I stole a glance over my shoulder and nobody even close behind. Good. Still, used the downhill to the finish and hammered with what I had left. Crossed in 1:04:24, good enough for 34th overall... and third in my age group. Sweet! Thank you faster folks in my category for not showing up, I was really, really stoked to place in my AG. Never have done that in this race before. It's always stacked with some of the fastest in the area, so I'm honored.

Immediately after the race, chatted with the younger fellow who passed me. Really great guy. Turns out we were both born in the same city (Charlottesville, VA) and hospital. Talked with a few others as well, and had to excuse myself during one conversation to walk over to a snow bank and puke. Never a real race unless I toss my cookies afterwards.

Post race awards and I received a really nice scarf for getting third in my AG. That was nice. Big thanks to the RDs and volunteers who put on a terrific event. So many people had a great time. And of course big thanks to my wife and many friends who cheered me on.

The Cheat approves of the scarf, and so do I.
Post Race Analysis
As I mentioned, the recent high mileage combined with a head cold were obstacles, so taking that into consideration I'm pretty stoked.

Looking at the photos taken during the race, my form looked very sloppy. Head games lead to lack of discipline. Will be mindful of form for the next several weeks... doing stride work should also help with that.

Glad I went out pretty quick and did my best to hold on. Wheels didn't come off but did get wobbly there from miles 6-9, but with fresher legs and not having brown crap in my mucus I don't think that would have happened. I'm convinced I'm in better shape now than I was last year. It's all about Boston, and I'm on a good track.

Rode runner's shoulders when I could and that helped. It always goes without saying, but I don't take for granted how gracious and good sports runners in our sport usually are. It is so uncommon when you come across a real jerk. Yeah, it happens, but looking at the forest and not the trees it is extremely rare.

Ran 10.0 miles @ 6:27/mile pace.
Official time: 1:04:24
Overall place: 34 of 779
AG place (40-44): 3rd of 58
Paved roads.
Moderately hilly.
Around 40 degrees, overcast.
Saucony Virrata, shorts, sleeveless shirt, short sleeved shirt, buff (ditched at mile six), gloves (ditched at mile three).

w/u: Ran 1.3 miles @ 7:30/mile pace.
c/d: Ran 1.0 miles @ 9:54/mile pace.

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