Capitalizing on Taper Madness + Rock’n Onward to RR100!
The Houston Marathon marked the last long effort before my goal race, Rocky Raccoon 100. With that, the past 2 weeks, I’ve been tapering back my mileage. Lately, I’ve taken to the strategy of tapering back mileage while keeping bursts of intensity to keep my brain satisfied and legs happy.
For a week after the marathon, I did a few slower runs, as the miles of concrete were still fresh on my legs. However, the following weekend marked an annual race put on by my local running club, Chocoloco. In years past, there was only a 5k option. This year, a 10k option was added for those wanting a few extra miles on their legs. I thought a nice 10k would be a great way to test out how my taper was treating my body.
I met with a couple of good friends ~1.5 miles from the start to get a nice warm-up in before the race. I felt ok on the early miles, legs felt pretty fresh, but I didn’t know what would happen when the gun went off. I had a few loose goals for the run. I wanted to go <45:00, which would give me a small PR and feel good. As I got closer to the start, I decided to go out with the “fast kids” and see how long I could hang on.
The course for the Chocoloco 5k/10k is pretty simple, a lollipop course in the Uptown Park area of Houston. It’s a 5k loop, so 5k runners do one loop and 10k runners go out for a second loop. Problem was, I didn’t know who was running the 5k and who was in for the 10k. I felt pretty comfortable going out quick and see what happened, a 10k isn’t too long of a race and would be a good chance to gauge my mid-distance fitness. Weather was pretty darn great too, low-mid 50’s and fair with not much wind. Wonderful mid-distance running weather!
I was grateful for the easy to follow course, the previous night I had a very strange dream/nightmare. It was a race where I took the lead in the second half. Not just female lead, but overall lead! It was a locale of which I was unfamiliar with a poorly marked course. I went from first place to last place in the final 400m of the race. How one could get that far off course in 400m is stuff for nightmares. Thankfully, this was a familiar area and a simple course.
I went out with my friend, Bing, as we both had similar goals and could push each other. Well, in short, it was a great call! We pushed each other and surpassed both of our expectations for the race.
We went out with the fast kids and clicked off our first mile in 6:50. Maybe a little too fast for us, but we felt good and kept on going. As we approached the end of the second mile, my shoe came untied. Shit! Then another female passed me, double shit! No matter, I’m still feeling good. Not long after, I caught back up with Bing.
Nearing the end of the first loop, I mutter to Bing if we were going out too fast since I was approaching a 5k PR? We both chuckled and Bing said the second loop would just have to be about us just hanging on.
Less than 100 yards from the turnaround, I only see one female in front of me. It was the female that passed me while I was tying my shoe. *$&#*&$* Well, that figures!
The second loop was just as Bing predicted, hanging onto our pace for dear life. My watch started clicking off 7:05-7:10 miles. Still great, but slipping a little bit. As we hit about 4.5 miles into the race, we started running into the crowd of walkers finishing up their 5k.
For the most part, the roads were wide enough to pass the walkers, but it does take a little extra energy. The weaving and slowing for crowds around turns slowed our 6th mile even more, 7:18. As we reached Uptown Park Blvd, the final major straight-away of the race, another participant told me the lead female was 200 yards ahead of me. Not enough real estate to catch her, unless she cratered. In spite of that, I decided to try to kick whatever I had left. I didn’t have a whole lot left, but I still felt remarkably good.
Bing and I reached the end and were flabbergasted! Not only did we go <45:00, we went <44:00…
We waited around for the official results. Though I was a few steps ahead of Bing, he actually beat me by 0.1 second on chip time. There was a little bit of confusion at the finish line. As I approached the finish, the timers asked me if I was running the 5k or 10k? Huh? That’s something strange to ask someone <10′ to the finish line. It was enough to make me hesitate and lose that 0.1 second to Bing! Funny stuff, doesn’t matter at all, just funny as we started together and finished together.
Official time was 43:52, taking another 73 seconds off of my previous best. First 5k was only a second slower than my current 5k PR.
My body is feeling pretty darn great and feeling positive for a great showing at RR100! Rock on! I celebrated with the best way I know how: coffee, chocolate chip pancakes and citrus flavored nuun. Nothing but the best to fuel my body for the distance next weekend!