107th / 557
The Maryland Road Runners Club of America Team 10 Mile Challange was my first race of 2010 but one I did not expect to run. Eventually a combination of factors I still don't fully understand convinced me it would be a good idea to get up at the ass-crack of dawn and race 150% of my weekly milage.
I decided to prepare by laying down a hilly 80M ride with Tank and Dr. K the saturday before the race.
Yes, I'm a genius.
My day started as all races do, with my alarm blasting and me staggering around my room in disbelief at 5am. I did my best to stuff all the things I vaguely remember being necessary for a running race into my backpack. I thought about bringing my racing flats and laughed out loud. Ha!
I had resigned myself to a personal worst at this race weeks ago.
I had been doing lots of biking but only running about 7M a week this year. My last running race was a 5k on the track at the Ryan McGrath "Memorial" in the fall of 2009. Prior to that I don't think I'd thrown down on the roads since the Kelly 5k in March of 2008. This I had only run 2 10 milers before but I had gone 1:03 in 2004 and a 1:00:30 in 2008. Good times for me and nowhere near what I thought I could run for this race. I knew I wasn't even going to run under 1:05. You can say what you want about foolish pride but I knew if I actually tried and couldn't cross the line under 1:10 I would DNF myself.
With the top 12 males scoring and something like 15 guys on our squad predicted to go under an hour I knew I wasn't even going to score.
The sum total of all this is that I had nothing to run for.
Nothing. No time goal. No place goal. No team scoring. No training goal. In fact every serious step I took at the race would beat me up, keep me from doing intervals and hurt my cycling training.
We were walking to the line before I finally figured out what to do.
Ryan had suggested that the slower guys "do the team thing" and pace the faster women as much as they could. This I decided was something I could do. I would run as long as I could at their pace and count it as LT work. Once I fell off the pace I would just jog it in and spare myself the full punishment of 10m at full on race pace.
So I sheepishly lined up next to Mel and said "Hey ... I'm going to try and run the first few miles with you". "OK" she cheerily replied. The gun went off and just like that - I was running a race again.
After almost 2 years away from even a semi-serious race I was mesmerized.
Thousands of footfalls all around me seemed deafening. The riot of thrashing colors around me was hypnotizing. All around me were people I knew. I was hypnotized for the fist 100m. I realized that this was the first time in my life I had ever, ever, run a race where I wasn't competing.
I turns out running is pretty cool when you're not obsessed with your own performance and the weight of your own expectations.
The race itself was uneventful. I paced Mel, Diane and Eileen through 6.5M to top-5 finishes in the 1:03 range. I just "jogged" it after that to cross somewhere way back in the standings with a 1:07:30 for 107th out of 557. Good enough for me.
My favorite part of the race was pacing Mel. She's such a tough little bitch and a good friend so it was great to help her out. She runs with amazing aggression; where most people just hold the effort on a hilly course like this one she holds the pace which means we surged up every hill. It's a badass way to run and it's not surprising she took 2nd female.
Overall, Team That's What She Said running under the auspices of the Falls Road Running Store cleaned house so completely and thoroughly that we might not be invited back next year. Almost no one stayed for the award ceremony to watch us receive the awards for first individual male and female as well as first pace male, female and coed team. We only brought a team of maybe 40 to the race and all of them are people who have trained with us at one time or another.
We of course spent the remainder of the the day drinking in celebration.
Lastly, big props to Ryan, the Godfather of the Baltimore legit running scene for organizing our team. He spends the entire first 2 months of the year getting in touch with people, getting uniforms and getting us signed up. Sweeping the awards at this race has been a dream of his for a while and he definitely deserves credit for this win as much as any who ran.
This was actually a nice break from riding ... but the real work and real tests are just beyond the horizon.