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October Races (October 2012)

November 14, 2012

Since my racing this fall has been made up of small, casual races that weren’t eventful enough to deserve their own blog entry, I’d decided to lump them together into a single entry for October.  I started the fall season with an annoying injury that I’ve had in the past, an extreme calf cramp that won’t seem to go away.  During a September trip to Oregon, tempted by the opportunity to run with my brother, I slid on some compression socks and decided to see how far I could make it before my calf decided that the run was over.  Amazingly, I had no calf problems on that run or on the run the next day.  Maybe it was the compression socks, maybe it was brotherly competition, or perhaps it was the resveratrol from all the wine we enjoyed, but the reason didn’t matter.  Suddenly, I was healthy again and ready to enjoy some racing.

October 5 (Five55 Series) – One of my challenges for training/racing is dealing with my travel schedule for work.  Fortunately for once, I was able to make it work in my favor.  Although I was missing a Splash & Dash in Arizona, I was able to find a replacement swim/run race in Dallas, which is where I had to travel for meetings.  Racing the same courses all the time can get a bit boring, so it was great to be able to experience a new course.  At small races like this one, there’s a slight chance that I could content for a top spot, but it has to be just the right combination of athletes.  I came out of the water in 4th place, which is solid but not enough to make me think of breaking the tape.  Right out of transition, I passed one guy which put me in a nice podium spot.  Then, of course, here comes the pure-runner-who-can’t-swim-that-well flying past me at his 17 min 5k pace and I was back in 4th place.  Enjoying the greenery of the run course that I’m not used to in the desert, I was able to hold off the other runners and maintain my position one off the podium.  I ran just under a 7 min/mile pace, which I guess I’m happy with considering I had to swim to start things off.

October 14 (Splash & Dash) – I’ve been doing some good pool workouts with a masters swim program, so I’ve been able to get a little quicker in the water.  Since these races start with a swim, it gives me a great confidence boost going into the run.  My time of 28:54 for a 2000m open water swim is probably one of my better times, but it’s always hard to know for sure if it was really a good performance because the course could be a bit short.  The science of setting an exact swim course has yet to be perfected.  I was also able to catch a good draft from the guy ahead of me, so I’m sure that helped as well, but I never know how much.  In any case, I came out of the water in 3rd place, but I knew there were some fast runners behind me.  The run course is an out-and-back, so I could spot those in hot pursuit of me.  One in particular was a guy that I’ve done track workouts with before, and I knew his 5k was 2 or 3 minutes faster than mine.  I really wanted one of those Tour de France style chalkboards and a motorcycle riding beside me to know how close he was, but instead all I could do was keep glancing back.  In the end, I was able to hold him off, but only by about 12 seconds, giving me my 3rd place finish that I missed the week before.

October 27 (The Y Race) – October was going well for me and I was starting to think of challenging some of my fastest race times.  To set a new PR in my forties would be very satisfying, so I found a 5k to run to see what kind of form I really had.  That was generally a good idea but I picked the wrong race.  This one was far too hilly and there was a nice solid breeze thrown in as well.  But that’s fine, I just viewed it as a good workout.  With an average heart rate of 174 for the race, I’d say it was a very good workout.  So up and up we went, and it was the usual scenario.  I passed people on the uphill and they came cruising back on the downhill.  About a mile from the finish, I was running side-by-side with this girl who was about 25 years younger than me.  With youth on her side, I was pretty sure she had a better sprint than I do, so I didn’t wait around to find out.  I already had a heart rate around 176, so I was very pleased when I was able to put in a surge, drop her and get up to the group ahead of me.  Then I had another surge and dropped that group.  I was feeling really good until the young girl put in her kick and blew past about five people including me, getting her first place for the females.  Fortunately, she was the only one to me pass me, so I held on for 11th place (out of 301).  The wind and hills kept me well off a PR, but my ability to surge at the end of the race left me very confident of my condition for upcoming races.  Now I just have to figure out a way to stay injury free.

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