Time for my monthly post, I suppose. Once again I waited until the penultimate day of the month to race, and once again I went into the event lacking confidence. This time it was the RRCA-MD 10 Mile Club Championships, aka Club Challenge. Without a doubt, this is the most important event on my calendar each year, not so much for my own personal goals, but for the team. It is a cruel event; a hilly 10 miler in Columbia in the winter, very early in the year. It is brutally honest, however, and can either serve as a huge confidence booster, or a rude wake-up call for your fitness.
I've been on both ends of that truth. In 2006, racing in my first Club Challenge, and wearing Nike 360s I might add, I got served. 1:04:10, and I think it was short. Jake Marren, Ryan Schmidt and I went down to the race and ran through 5 together, splitting something under 30. The two of them slowed in the back half, ultimately running times in the 1:01:xx range, but I suffered. Thank God I've done worse than that in other races over the years, so I've put that one behind me. I swore I would never race it again, but a year later I was prepared and actually excited to race. An alleged snowstorm, however, canceled that year's edition, and I would have to wait another year to exact my revenge.
Now it's 2008 and, thanks to an injection of new blood (Ben, Arjun, Alex, Justin, Steve Levin, to name a few), I thought we had a solid shot at the team titles. That was the winter I was racing some indoor track meets, and I felt like I was in decent shape to put forth a good effort. The result was a 59:25 - not too bad! It was a 10 mile PR and I felt pretty good. Unfortunately for the team, we got smoked. You know you're not going to do well when a 59:25 is your 5th or 6th scorer.
For the newer guys, it was their first CC, and they all swore they'd never race again too, but, just like me, they came back a year later, ready to crush butts. It was a much better sign that I ran a 58:55 and was one of the last scorers. We didn't win the men's or women's team title, but when the scoring had been finalized, we had won the Overall Team title, and, to quote Miley Cyrus, it was "pretty cool."
2010, of course, the year I miss, winds up being the Falls Road Clinic on winning. That created high expectations for this year, but we definitely took a hit by losing a number of our scorers from last year. We ended up racing with just 32 people, down from 50 last year. Up front we had a number of truly amazing races, but in the end the numbers just weren't in our favor. The cool thing was there wasn't a poor performance among the whole group. There were something like 20 PRs run by our 32 people. We came in 2nd in the men's team by just 24 points (very close when you score 12) and scored almost the fewest amount possible for the women on their way to a team victory. For the third year in a row now, we also came home with the Overall Team victory. Another great day for the team.
My own personal race was fine, I ended up running 1:00:12 for 39th place. Disappointed I was just 13 seconds away from cracking 60, but more disappointed that I couldn't close the gap on Old Man Berardi. There he was, running with another Strider, and about to catch another (I know their names but so they don't google themselves and wonder why they're on here, I'll leave them nameless). I couldn't shut it down, and Berardi got me by 6 seconds. From a race management standpoint, I was pleased. I went out more responsibly, and was very comfortable through the first 4 miles. I was running under 6 minute pace without being overly aggressive. I hit their mile 5 marker in 29:16, but I'm certain that is an early mark. Where I believe the 5 mile mark to be I crossed in 29:41. Even there, I still feel like it may be a little shy of where it actually is. But seeing as in our workouts I use this mark as the halfway, I will just call it 29:41.
The neighborhood was expectedly tough, and I tried to stay "in it" until we crossed over the highway again and reached the 7 mile mark. I had ridden my bike for 4 hours the previous day, and it definitely left me feeling it. I was approaching the point where my legs weren't going to move any faster, I could only hope they wouldn't slow down too much. As each mile ticked by I watched my pace creep up. 35:47 at 6, 41:50 at 7, 48:01 at 8. Could I run under 12 minutes for the last two miles? I sure was trying. Clipped through 9 at 54:10, and thinking I could surely muster a 5:49 last mile, I believed I could do it. I made the turn onto Hickory Ridge and was able to pass one Strider, but couldn't reach Berardi and the other guy ahead. I disappointedly watched as the clock turned over the hour mark, gave a quick look behind and crossed the line.
Along the course I realized I was our 11th person, and needed to hold position. It was nice to be a scorer again, I think the only time I haven't been was that first year. I was really excited for my friends' performances, and I think they were too, as most of them reveled for the entire remainder of the day, even into the evening. Monday's run was predictably slow, as most of us had no pep in the step.
As another month has gone by, I'll once again grade myself on how my training has gone:
Swimming - C. Once again I just did not make it into the pool enough. Like I've said, I no longer feel like I need to put in the 5000m days I was doing all last year, because I don't think the additional volume is making me swim any faster. If anything, I think those long days, day after day, were just making me more tired for the runs and rides. Total for the month was a mere 24,000 meters, but was accentuated with a few decent workouts.
Cycling - A. I gave myself a B+ for January, and February actually went pretty well. Almost double the amount of time as January, and some really solid workouts on the trainer. I also managed to get outside 3 times for 3+ hours, including a near 60 mile ride with Ben Winterroth on the warm Friday, and 4 hours just this past Saturday. I'm feeling pretty strong, and that's a good sign. I called it 394 miles this month.
Running - B+. The first week of February started off pretty weak, following the Miami Half. I went up to NJ that weekend for a basketball game, and due to the heavy volume of snow, it was nearly impossible for me to run (got in just 4 miles for a 25 mile week). But after that, things got better. I still only get in 4 days a week tops, with one week being 5 days, but my runs are generally in the 10-12 mile range. 10-12 on a Monday, 10-12 on a Wednesday, 9 on a Friday, long run on Sunday. We did a great workout on the Club Challenge course two weeks ago, and the following week I put in a 17 mile run with Kris, Harvey and Brennan. My last 3 weeks were 48, 50 and 46, for a total of 167 miles this month. And I've been enjoying the runs more, running random routes for time instead of the same old standard routes knowing how fast I should be at each split. Club Challenge average pace was 6:01, or :14 per mile faster than my race at Miami. My foot has not felt much better, particularly after the harder efforts, but I'm getting through it.
As a result, hours per week went up. Just under 14, then 16.5, then 15.5. Back to some more normal volume.
I'll probably start posting a little bit more now that I'm back to doing things, but today I'll leave you with a quote, from Bad Boys:
"Fuck you, and fuck them, and fuck everybody that got a problem with Mike Lowrey."
I've grown quite weary of hearing my name brought up in a complaining fashion in conversations. It's real old. If there's a problem, bring it up to me. Otherwise, leave my name out of it.