Monday, January 28, 2008

Run Your Race (3M Race Report)

It was weird preparing for 3M. Oddly, I wasn't really that nervous. It wasn't my A race this year and after pounding out 20 and 22 milers, throwing down at 13.1 seemed like not a big deal. Wow...what a difference a year makes!

The night before I had my typical pre-race and long run meal (Penne Rustica from Macaroni Grill) and set my alarm EARLY so that I could get my breakfast in (and out) before the race started at 7am.

I didn't even stress about the weather...I really didn't care if it was cold since I've FINALLY figured out appropriate gear...and because the shouldn't be any rain. Phew.

I did dig out the 3M race plan that Sisson did last year and reviewed that while perusing the race course handout from the packet. Visualization. Another BIG lesson I've learned this year..and OH so helpful. If you don't do this, I HIGHLY recommend you start! It may seem kinda kooky, but holy shit, does it work!

I also reviewed my pace chart. Now, my MGP is 8:35 (which gives me a 3:45 -- which I think is VERY respectable for a VIRGIN Marathoner!), so my HMGP is 8:04. I can't really tell you the last time I ran HMGP, so I was a little concerned that I might have some trouble dialing into that. But I had my watch and the mile markers, so I'd just make it work.

However, after sharing the fact that my MGP was set based upon my initial time trial at the beginning of the season (which would be the 8:35/M = 3:45) and not the IBM 10-K (where I had a great race and PR'd which would then make MGP 8:21/M = 3:38) with a certain someone and then being chided, no, called out for be a chicken and not aggressive, I made a super-secret inside HMGP of 7:44, which is what I thought the HMGP would be for the 8:21 MGP. (You bastard, you know who you are...)

So, I figured worst case is that I hit the 8:04/ case 7:44/M. Right? CHECK! I'm on it.

After lining up in the corrall SANS by usual pace buddies (Nick was sick, lost Jonathan when I made a final potty stop before lining up and couldn't find Michael), I realized I was going to be on my own on this one. Dang. Oh well, here we go.

The gun went off and we started our shuffle through the start. There was a gaggle of T3 big boys up ahead including my friend Noah. They were looking strong, so I decided to hang with them for awhile. Besides, it was nice eye candy. Turns out a bunch of them are training for IMAZ and they had already run 9 before the race, so they were just finishing off at their long run pace.

According to the plan, miles 1-2 are supposed to be for just kinda getting going and getting through the masses. That's pretty much what happened for me.

Mile 1: 8:49 (dang traffic - I'm going to need to make up some time)
Mile 2: 7:59 (better)

After leaving the T3 boys around mile 2, I knew the plan called for settling into race pace and being conservative over the next two miles.

Mile 3: 7:37 (a little fast, but I still need to make up for Mile 1)
Mile 4: 7:44 (nailed it...nice)

Between miles 3 and 4, one of my favorite blog lurkers was there cheering me on as she yelled, "Run your race, Dionn, Run Your RACE!" I thought to myself. Yes, today it is my race. I'm going to follow my plan and race my race! And just after that as I was looking ahead, I noticed a form that I've seen on many occasions now running ahead of me. It's a blonde, ponytail wearing gal who is really, really fit. She's got great form and is always, always ahead of me. I was feeling good this day and thought, hmmmmm, maybe this is the day I catch her. I was encouraged that I'd actually caught up to her since I didn't see her at the start, so I thought, well then, I must be going a little faster than her if I've caught her at this point. Though it was quite early in the race, so I figured I would just hang with her and then since I'm a kicker, take her at the end.

Besides, you know me...there's always got to be some kind of backstory to a race for me. Keeps my mind occupied..

I thought to myself, the warm up is now officially over. It is time to get to work.

The Sirens of Spicewood Springs were calling me, but I knew the state of my knees would be disasterous if I pounded too hard on the downhills and Sisson highly advised against doing anything faster than 10-15 seconds faster than HMGP on this section, so I tried to be good. But I also wanted to keep up with my friend. Turns out her name is Lisa as she was cheered often by her friends along the way.

Mile 5: 7:05 (oops..Lisa was really hauling ass...)
Mile 6: 7:58 (gu and water stop...)

Between miles 5 and 6, I let Lisa pull away from me a little. After the 7:05 I began to think that maybe she was just warming up before and now she was going to start picking up her pace...after all she ALWAYS beats me. I didn't want to blow up before the hill section, so I backed off....however, I kept her in my sights. I was thinking if I did it right, by the time I got through mile 10, I'd be ready to hawk her down again...that was my plan. That's how I was going to roll.

But now comes the "work" part of the race. I knew miles 7-10 were where the race was won or lost. This is where you can tell, who's been training and who's been slacking. Burnet and North Loop. Bring it.

I was FIRED UP to be greeted by a HUGE cheering section on Burnet of Shorey, Krissy, Wiley, and Triscuit! Wow! Was that so much fun! It put a fantastic smile on my face and on my heart and really got me pumped up. THANKS YOU GUYS!!!

It was so great, that a guy who was running near me said, "hey, I want your cheering section!" I responded, "Yea, they're great, huh?!" Smiling, smiling, smiling.

The hills were gradual and rolling and just kept thinking to myself, press, press, press. Meaning press the chest forward, lean into the hill and keep the cadence up. I hugged the cones on the left hand side and just kept going...passing a few people, getting passed by others. But running my own race.

Mile 7: 8:05
Mile 8: 7:39
Mile 9: 7:41
Mile 10: 7:51

Now, comes the fun part. Nothing but a 5k now. As usual, my thoughts went back to triathlon and I thought about just hopping of my bike and getting ready for the run portion in a sprint distance and how I can push, push, push. I thought of Ms. Lord coming into transition behind me. I thought of Lisa. Wait..where is Lisa? Scanning, scanning, scanning. I was so focused on the hills, my breathing, my form that I'd lost Lisa! Where the hell is she? I'm looking ahead and can't see her anywhere...I moved sideways a little so I can look between more people and I can't find her. Dammit. I'm going to have to really push to catch her if I can't even see her!!

And then I looked directly to my right. There she was!!! I was dead even with her! SWEET! And then I listened. She was breathing...hard. Not loud like a loud breather, but hard like "crap this hurts" hard. A sly grin threatened to break across my face. I recalled a running article that talked about race strategies and about when to pass and essentially how to break someone's spirit when you do it. I thought to myself...hmmmm...I just might be able to take her today. I was feeling strong and ready to embrace the last 5k and the gifts it had to offer.

So, I looked straight ahead, pressed with my chest and started running harder. I only put a little distance on her. I just wanted to be a little in front, not far...I didn't want to tempt her to come get me or anything. I could hear her pick up her pace and settle in behind me. I wasn't going to turn around and acknowledge that I knew she was there (per the instructions in this article that I had read...I gotta find that thing again, it was awesome..), give her some sort of hope that I might be worried about her....just kept going forward.

Mile 11: 7:24

On campus, Lisa ran by some others of her friends and they yelled for her, "Yea Lisa!". She said hi back...with labored breath. "Want a gu?" they asked. "YES!" she replied.

What?? Taking a gu with only 2 miles left? She must be really hurting...would it even kick in before the finish? Or maybe just mentally knowing it was on board was going to help her finish. Even so, I knew she was in trouble. And that meant an opportunity for me. So I pressed a little more and picked up my pace. Nothing but a 2-mile time trial now. Let's do this thing, D!

Mile 12: 7:18

Hell yes! I'm feeling good, feeling strong...let's keep it up. She's not going to catch me now!

Mile 13: 7:13

I could see the finish, time to let it all hang out. Ran by the Rogue contingent to yells and screams from the left hand side. Felt their support surge me forward. A few feet further heard yells and screams from the Almands and Brightons on the right and that spurred me on even more.

Sprinted through the finish and clicked my watch: 1:41:11 !!! HELL YES!!!! WOOOT!!!

That's a 7:43 people! Hit my inside goal and everything! YES!!!!! WOOO HOOO!

Not sure if Evil called my name or not...even when he does, he butchers the hell out of it. But oh well....grabbed my medal, some water and started the celebration! Yes!!

Turns out after reviewing my McMillan pace chart, using my IBM 10-K pace as the key, my HMGP should've actually been 7:55, not 7:44! What? Sweet! I'm sure I would've been closer to that on a different course as we know 3M is faster than most.....nonetheless, I am FIRED UP!!

Thanks to everyone on Team know I could never do this crazy stuff without each and every one of y'all. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!


Mark said...

Very nice job! And way to finish strong!

Glenda said...

great race, way to go!

Jane said...

you looked great out there, Dionn! great job.

Suellen said...

What a difference a year makes, indeed! Good job!

And seeing you out there when I finished some time later cheering me on was special too. So thanks for sticking around and being part of my team, too!!

Lulu said...

You are HFC, HCM!!!!

Missychel said...


Driver said...

AWESOME Dionn...Too bad I was freakin bed-ridden, I would've totally enjoyed helping you beat that blondie!

Only 17 more days and it's on!!!