I wasn't originally planning to do this one, but the sad fact of training for a fall race in southern Arizona is that there is essentially nothing on the calendar in the months of June, July, and August in which to gauge your current fitness. Thus, since I started piling on the miles in late June (going from 25/week to over 40/week, on average), I haven't had a good chance to see where I am with my training. (The <a href="http://www.kickrunners.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10620" target="_blank">8 miler</a> I ran in September was on a <i>tough</i> course on which it was tough to judge things objectively.) Since this race was on a fast, nearly flat course winding through the University of Arizona and really close to home, I thought I'd give it a try. My goal was to be somewhere around 36:30. My previous best was 40:44, so a big PR was the goal.<br><br>
If I could have sent the weather in Tucson to our friends slogging through records high temps in the Midwest marathons yesterday, I would have. The conditions here were perfect, with start temps in the low 50's. I arrived at the race around 6:20, in plenty of time to run a short warm-up, and catch the wheelchair race (the "roll" part of Run 'n' Roll). Those folks are truly inspirational. My arms were screaming just watching them.<br><br>
We lined up around 7:30 for the 7:40 start. I really need to get in the habit of getting to the start area earlier. I got as close to the line as I could, but I knew ahead of time that it wasn't going to be close enough. The nearly 600 runners were crammed onto a very narrow road, and there were clearly many, many people ahead of me that should have been towards the back. Honestly, the lack of etiquette was stunning, and I'm really beginning to hate iPods. I wish race directors would be more aggressive about starting line discipline. This was not a safe start.<br><br>
The gun sounded a few minutes late, and we were off. As expected, I had to do an awful lot of weaving to get by people who were too far up. In the first mile I probably passed 100 people, and ran what I felt was probably too fast a pace just to get some space. Sure enough, at mile marker 1 there was someone calling splits, and I heard 6's for the first time in my running career.<br><br><b>Mile 1</b> (7:05) By the time my Garmin marked 1M the time had rolled over to 7 minutes, and I was a little apprehensive and unsure I'll be able to maintain this pace. This is more or less where I was running my 1k intervals back in August. I'm expecting my paces to slow later.<br><br><b>Mile 2</b> (7:08\) The course continues to wind through a part campus that I'm not familiar with, and without looking at my GPS map afterwards, I couldn't tell you where I was. I'm concentrating and working hard, but still feeling pretty good.<br><br><b>Mile 3</b> (7:03) Wow, my paces still haven't slowed. Feeling OK.<br><br><b>Mile 4</b> (7:06) At about 3.25 miles the lactic acid starts flooding my muscles. I always have a problem in these in-between distance races in that my legs want to run a 5K. Sure enough, I'm hurting shortly after 5000 meters, though I must have set a 5K PR in here. I'm not sure I'll have anything left for a kick, though somewhere towards the end of this mile I reel in a female triathlete that's been in front of me most of the race.<br><br><b>Mile 5</b> (6:53) This is my first sub-7min mile since I quit playing soccer when I was 16. I guess I did have a little bit left, though I got passed in the last 400 meters by 3 people, including two HS girls XC runners. I think I can forgive myself for getting out-kicked by fast, young legs.<br><br><b>last 90 ft</b> (0:06) I guess I made the course 0.05M long with my weaving and taking some wide turns to pass some people.<br><br>
Official time: <b>35:27</b> (7:08 pace), so a PR by over 5 minutes. That, my friends, is a good race, beating my goal time by over a minute. If you factor in the long course and 14 seconds it took me to get over the start line I was in shouting distance of the 7 minute barrier. Maybe in the spring!<br><br>
This race gave me some big confidence in my HM training. I've got two more tune-ups before Philadelphia (a 10 miler and a 5K), and I'm hoping to PR in those as well. I even may have a shot at my super-secret goal time for Philly.