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<p>Last night I ran in the Jerry Garcia Memorial 4.2mi race along the Charles River in Cambridge/Boston.  This is part of the "Let's Run" summertime monthly series put on by the Somerville Striders Athletic Club.  I've been doing these races for five years now with the first one being my first race ever.  In my 2nd ever race in 2005 (somehow just 4 months after "getting off the couch"), I PR'd at 38:41 pacing off someone who wanted to run the same pace as I did.  I haven't been able to break 39:00 since, my closest being 39:08 in 2007.  As the years have gone on, the races have gotten more popular meaning more people and a lot of congestion.  Also, being summer you don't know what kind of weather you are going to get but usually it's very warm and humid.</p>
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<p>Last night was really no exception.  At race time it was 88F but thankfully the humidity that'd been oppressive early in the day had washed out to sea on a nice NW breeze.  The race was sold out as usual (I think it sold out in April) so it was very crowded.  One of the things that's changed this year that's really helped is they close one side of Memorial Dr. for the beginning of the race, removing one of the biggest bottlenecks.  Overall, it was a perfect night for a race.</p>
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<p>I decided my biggest problem with this race is that I go out too conservatively.  Then, I try to make up for it in the end and just run out of real estate.  But why?  Last weekend I did a very tough bike ride and noticed that for 20min or so I was breathing as hard as I could.  I didn't quit though.  I battled through it.  I never stopped.  When I wrote about this bike ride in the daily thread I said, "why don't I do more workouts like this and why don't I ever do this while running?"  Good question.  It was one I answered last night.  I've always been afraid that if I go out too hard and set it in my mind that I want to accomplish something that I'll have to quit and deal with that disappointment.  But, what if I just try and see what happens anyway and not worry about it?  I didn't quit on the bike ride so why worry about it?  How would I know if I didn't try it?  So, I'd risk it.  I had a plan.</p>
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<p>Part of that plan too was to start a little closer up and avoid some of the crowding to keep out of that early congestion.  I've usually been about 20 seconds back and last night I started about 15 seconds or so back.  This worked out really well because I was able to go out harder, have more space and find some speedier rabbits early.  I had to keep reminding myself in that first mile that running hard was the plan and to focus and let myself feel it without panicking.  I felt like I was running pretty fast but it didn't feel as hard as I expected it should be.  I kept my focus and found some rabbits and turned off complaints about heat and going too fast too early.  I was passing a lot of people and then things would ebb and a bunch would pass me and my rabbit of the moment then flow back to passing more people.  I ended up passing several rabbits as I kept reminding myself to not settle in but to keep pushing.  At around the 19:00 mark was the first time real worry set in when I realized I'd gone what was likely 1/2 way (there are no markers) and I was feeling quite a bit of strain.  I was able to push this aside though and go with it, find another rabbit and focus.  None of my rabbits were lasting very long so I had to pick faster rabbits.  I did a little math in my head: if I could hit the final turn back across the river around 30:00 I could PR.  I looked to be in good shape for that when I guess it was 3-4min to that point and I was around 26:00.</p>
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<p>Right before the bridge is a water stop.  Part of my plan was to get water here, walk, count 10 deep breaths and then have a finish to remember.  I did just that but forgot to check my watch to see if I was close to that 30:00 mark.  That's how much I was focused on the task at hand.  At this point I'd passed every rabbit I tried and now on the back stretch (about 1mi) I was leapfrogging with different people going about the same pace.  This helped tremendously as I could tap into some competitiveness.  I wasn't going to let the girl running with her dog beat me :).  There were many moments of doubt along here but I pushed them all aside and just told myself to run as hard as I could at this moment and remember all the hard work I'd done to get to this point.  A couple of final checks of the watch as I came into what I knew as the final quarter mile showed I had a real chance to PR and somehow I found a higher gear.  I also passed the final rabbit who I'd been leapfrogging with.  I even managed to sprint to the finish (almost losing it on the corner from going too fast and not being able to slow down my tired legs).  I crossed the finish and hit my watch and saw 38:30.  The finish clock read around 38:43.  My previous best was 38:39 watch / 38:41 clock.  Finally, after five years, PR!</p>
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<p>The risk had paid off.  For the first time in five years I'd broken 39:00 and, at least via watch time, I'd gotten myself a new PR.  My watch time is the only real apples-to-apples comparison I can make so I am going with that.  Five years ago you could be 2 seconds behind the start but these days it takes a while to get there with the crowds.  Either way, I'd run my best and I was very happy.  This was a very different race: every rabbit I picked I eventually passed and not one got away.</p>
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<p>Results:</p>
<p>Unofficial: 38:30 (9:10/mi) PR!</p>
<p>Official: 38:47 (9:14/mi) 432/559 M, 726/1184 OA</p>
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<p>Series Official Results:</p>
<p>May: 40:50 (9:43/mi)</p>
<p>June: 39:32 (9:24/mi)</p>
<p>July: 38:47 (9:14/mi)</p>
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<p>Now it's time to focus on Timberman and keep ramping up the mileage for Reach The Beach.  My goal over the next three weeks is to be sure to have at least one bike and one run workout where I work as hard as I can and let myself just feel what maximum effort is like without worrying about it.  I think this has been a good learning experience that might really open some new doors for me.</p>
 

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<p>Great job Dougie!  I took my brother out for his first race ever earlier this month (a 4-miler) and learned that secret about these type races pretty fast.</p>
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<p>The thing I find strange is that they have a Jerry Garcia Memorial Run in freakin' MA - I would think they would have one in this neck of the woods, but oh well.</p>
 

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<p>Way to go, Doug. Pretty freakin' awesome to break a 5 year PR!</p>
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<p>Glad the weather broke for the run - I'm sure that made a huge difference.</p>
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<p>Just out of curiosity, do you have to stop for water with a mile to go? Or could you run through next time and get your next PR? Do they have an August race?</p>
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<p>Reg.</p>
 
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