Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Surprising Personal Best

Been running for almost 5years now, in the early development of my running performance I am used to getting a new 'PR' (personal records) every race.  I noticed a trend of 10% improvement every 6months.
Note: when calculating % of time, use minutes not fractional hours.  For example, 10% of of 1.5 hours (90minues) is 9mins.
This is not sustainable indefinitely obviously.   The 10% figure will degrade and reverse over time.  But understanding the race specific work needed to improve a specific race distance takes specific training. No one gets faster without targeted effort.

Brings me to my situation, early 2013 we moved to Boulder.  I knew that in the mountains less pressure = less oxygen, any run out the door was hundreds or thousands feet of elevation change.  I was reacquainted with double digit-minute / mile times!  The only 6-min/mile times I'd seen were occasional asphalt downhill efforts.  May days of holding 6min pace for mile repeats seemed gone.

Now we are in Boulder and it seems the town gets very excited for the nation's ~2nd largest 10km race called the Bolder Boulder.  All of my runs this year are slogs uphill and careful descents, with occasional 7min pace downhills.  The day before the race, we came home early from a rained out camping trip and I said "if the Bolder Boulder isn't sold out, I will run it."

I jogged the 4miles from home to Pearl Street Mall and waited in line to see the registration was open.  I saw they were asking for seeding times.  Feverishly I search in line, I found a 10km race in Richmond in 2012.  That race has 16 feet of elevation change and it's at sea level!  I wondered if I could even repeat that performance at 5,500'!  The registration person put me in corral 'AB' (3rd fastest), the cut off time for 'AA' was 41:00 - missed by three seconds, ugh.  I knew I'd need people faster than me surrounding me to suck me in.

Split toe action
In the morning, I was trying to decide which shoes to wear.  I remembered all my speed work I used to do in my Born2Run Road shoes.  Fond memories of moving fast in these shoes that offer some medium-firm cushioning, but allowing toes to splay for longitudinal arch suspension in my stride.

I toe (split toe that is) the line and take off and was able to hang with all my fellow corral runners I picked runners to catch and pass my pass-to-was passed ratio was 50:1.  I was happy to fly by a group of 'A'-corral'ers dressed like superheroes.

Done already??
I was moving my legs at a pace I really hadn't tried since 2012.  I refused to look at my watch, not wanting to know my pace.  It buzzed every mile but did not look.

The entire race besides staying in a groove of breathing, I focussed on relaxing any muscle I didn't need.  Were my shoulders tight?  Yes? Why? relave them! and move on to the next muscle group.  Hands relaxed? No?.... etc.

At the mean 10% grade hill to enter the stadium I danced around another runner's puke and thought "their gut biome cannot process beans, they need to cut out legumes..." I crossed the finish line and was handed a "Sub-40minute badge along with my medal."  My heart soared (and sored a little too, haha).  I passed two more people puking with the thought: "I wish I'd worked hard enough to puke".  As a long distance runner I am SURE I had plenty of gas in the tank, it took 2-3 deep breaths to get heart rate down.  No soreness, tightness or other signs of fatigue as I drank my post race beer(s).

I cannot remember the last time I was pleasantly surprised by a race.  7th in my age group.

Inspired:  Now I'm interested in leaving my ultra-marathon shuffle and actually specifically training for a 10km.  Also I want to fly to Richmond to re-try that 2012 race!  I will bring these good luck charms.

1    6:22
2    6:32
3    6:32
4    6:39
5    6:14
6    6:32
0.2 7:06

Note: this is a subject for another post, but less than 1% of the runners in those first few corral took any water or sports drinks.  


  1. 6:14, spectacular brother. Looks like you went out hot, just the competition I imagine. (Or hills).

  2. the hills came gradually. i tried to push it going downhill, so there's moments of sub-6min pace to make up for the slow going up.