Sunday, December 9, 2012

First Race

BOOM: Everything indoor track hits me at once: the air, smell, light, and sound of people. With it comes an instinctual rush of adrenaline as we enter Indiana University's Indoor Track facility.  As I step in from the rain, having not set foot on one of these banked ovals in eight months, I think, wow, it's suddenly indoor season and it's time to race.

Ryan Dohner and I are entered in the small but stacked invitational section of the 5000 at the Hoosier Invitational, ready to open our indoor seasons for Texas a little earlier than usual.  We came here with the goal of running 13:45 or faster, a performance that should qualify us for the national meet in March.  The plan is to run a slightly cautious 66.5 per 400 for the first 3000 meters, then increase the pace to break 13:45 over the final 10 laps.  Leading the way would be two very capable rabbits in former Indiana runners Andrew Poore and Ben Hubers, and with Olympic trials 5th place finisher Ryan Hill of NC State and four freshly honored cross country All Americans in the field, the race was sure to produce some fast times.

Tonight is a bit of a cross roads for me: I haven't raced since my last time in a Princeton singlet on June 16th in a 1500 up in Indianapolis. I'm toeing the line knowing only what my workouts have been saying about my fitness.  I know that it was going to take some serious guts over the last 2k to muscle out a sub 13:50 clocking.  The outcome of this race will be plugged into the increasingly complex algorithm that determines the plan for me at Big Twelves and Nationals, and thus the way I'll train in the coming months.  Tonight is also my first time running as a Longhorn and that adds a bit of excitement to it all.

The smell of burnt sulfur still hangs in the air from the gun as we pass the start, one lap already complete, falling into a single file line behind Hubers and Poore.  Chasing after the two unattached rabbits are my teammate, myself, Lane Werley of UCLA, Zach Mayhew of Indiana, and Hill and Andrew Colley of NC State taking up the rear.  Passing the mile in 4:27, we maintain that order for 3k, running consistent 66.5 - 67 second laps.  I see 8:18 at 3k and do a self check as Hubers steps off, his task complete.  I'm feeling about normal for this point in the race.  But as Poore takes over and the pace increases slightly, I know it's time to focus as fatigue begins setting in.  Around 3600 the line of runners begins to string out.  200m later Hill passes me, followed shortly by Mayhew.  I'm beginning to tire, and with 1000 to go I've switched to survival mode - just get to the finish!  I run some unimpressive laps in no man's land and cross the line in 13:59.23 for fourth.  As is often the case towards the end of a race, I can't say much about the final 5 laps - I just don't remember them.  Maybe too much lactic acid in my brain?

In terms of the time goal, the result was a bit of a disappointment.  I wasn't able to race competitively with the field when the going got tough.  However, lots of positive things come from the effort.  Being in sub fourteen shape in December is pretty good in my book, especially for not having raced in a while.  It puts me within striking distance of my goals for the indoor season.  Getting the race in my legs is of course a workout too.  In that sense, I'm happy that I went for it.  Now I know exactly what kind of shape I'm in - my training will be more informed and I'll have a firm idea of what areas need work.

That's what running is - lots of work, chances to race, success, and failure.  Getting used to the entire process takes a long time, but I think that seeing the positives in every situation helps you get to where you want to be.

Race Video Here

1 comment:

  1. Love the blog, Joe! Exciting and insightful. Just one small gripe: