Sunday, April 17, 2011

Race to Robie Creek 1/2 Marathon

So, I had the unexpected chance to run the Race to Robie Creek yesterday.  I'll jump right into the report:

Picture before the start.  First time in my new Inov-8 race get up and first time in shorts and a tank top for 6 months.

I went with a pair of the new Inov-8 Road-X 233's, a road racing shoe by Inov-8 (who has been an off-road only company till this year).  Really was surprised and liked this shoe.  This was only my second run in these and I wore no socks and had zero issues the whole run.  Great shoe.  I plan on doing a review of the shoe as well as some reviews of others in the near future as I continue to get more time in a lot of different models.  I'm really looking forward to their even more minimal road shoe, the Road-X Lite 155, that comes out in a month or two.

Eating a vanilla Clif Shot before the race and asking Zach if he wanted some.  He tried some, but didn't like it too much...yet, he will ;).

At about the .5 mile mark with people running way to fast for what lay up ahead.

I took a Clif Shot about 10 min before the start (I hadn't had any lunch and the race started at 12:00 so I was hungry :) ). I started up in the front 100 or so runners and the first mile was flat and everybody took off like it was a 5K.  I looked down at my garmin and was going at a 7:00/mile pace about .5 mile in and I was getting passed right and left by runners.  I decided at that pace just to let them go.  There was a little climbing on the paved road from mile 1-2 of about 250 ft with a little downhill for .5 mile afterward.  I didn't gain much ground on people at this point, but heard some people breathing way too hard at this point in the race and knew I just needed to save myself for the main work ahead.  When I hit the flat at the bottom this downhill I lapped my garmin which showed a time of 18:49 at mi 2.52 with 270 ft of gain and 46 ft of loss in the books good enough for 7:27 pace.  I thought this was the start of the real climb, but it turned out there was another 0.81 mi of flattish road before I hit the dirt road and started the climb.  I covered this small section with 136 ft gain at a 7:46 pace and was eager to start the climb.

One thing that surprised me about the race that I hadn't expected was how hot it was.  Training in Baker recently has been in the mid to low 40's so the mid 60's that we had on race day combined with the hard climbing and being in a canyon for most of the climb (read no breeze) made for a very hot feeling run.  I was a little worried about this as I haven't sweat that much in 6 or 7 months, but my body did its job and I took a little extra water from the aid stations. I basically focused on even pacing, relaxed breathing and legs, and running the racing lines through the corners, which surprisingly to me, 80% of the runners didn't seem to care whether they were running on the outside of the road or not.  I'm no pure road runner, but I don't see the need to run extra in a race and plus it gives something to focus on too.  I immediately started reeling people in on the climb which helped build some momentum for me.  I don't think I got passed once from this point onward until well after the summit when a few downhill speedsters went by me.  The climb started gradually and I was able to maintain a good pace in the low 8:00-8:15 range.  Near the end it pitched up somewhat and I was reduced to a more moderate 10:00 pace.  I had figured before the race that a 1:10:00 at the summit of the climb would be my top goal.  As I started getting closer to the top, I realized I would come close to this time and ended up coming through at 1:07:22 with 8.3 mi and 2,100 ft of climbing in the bag.

I knew the rest was downhill and proceeded trying to keep at a pace that I would be able to keep the rest of the way.  I pulled out another Clif Shot and nursed it for the next couple miles. The downhill was significantly steeper than the climbing side, but was able to fall into a low 6:00-6:20 pace and feel fairly comfortable.  This, however, still didn't prevent a few folks from screaming past me (with very loud heel strike slaps I might add...not worth it in the long run I would think).  I still passed a handful of runners who looked like they had lit all their matches a little to early and were in a little bit of a survival mode.  I saw the 11 mile sign and did some quick calculating and realized I could actually come in under 1:40:00 which I had not even thought possible before the race.  By the time I hit the 13 mile mark (12 mile mark was either missing or I didn't see it), I knew I would come under 1:40:00 and actually saw a struggling runner up ahead so I put it into high gear to give myself a shot at reeling him in.  I made it passed him with about 100 meters to go and strode into the finish line.  I looked for my time, but the clock was all bugged out at the finish (I had also noticed the summit clock reading incorrectly when I came over).  I read later that they had some issue with the clocks, but the timing chips worked great so the times were not messed up.  My garmin time showed 1:37:23 and I was thrilled, later I found my official time was 1:37:22 (official results here).  They didn't have the overall placings on this pdf, just age group placings, but I did a rough estimate and came up with 42-44th place. This gave me a final pace of 7:33 as I had run the 4.61 mi of downhill at a 6:15 pace. I turned around and shook the hand of the runner who I passed at the end and told him "Good job!" and went on to grab some fluids at the finish festivities feeling very happy with a hard effort and feeling great at the end of the run. I never felt amazing at any point in the day, but I felt solid the whole run.  I hadn't planned on racing Robie Creek.  My brother offered me the chance on Monday last week, when one of his co-workers had to drop out.  However, my training had been pretty ideal for this race and it capped off a 50.73 mi week for me.  My coach, Yassine Diboun, assured me we'd have no issues training through the race and I agreed that it was my desire as well not to taper and it worked out great.  I haven't raced in over 5 months, and even though I wished it was on some single track, I still had a lot of fun and was a great test of fitness early season.

Zachary with my brother Stephen at the start.

Zach getting some of the single track in that I never got.

Ultra training has started.  Good form already don't you think?

Not sure, because I wasn't there to witness, but looks like he was entering into a mini pain cave here.

Not sure I'll do Robie Creek again, but who knows?  It really plays out like a tougher road race, but was more like a typical hard climbing day in training for me...probably a little easier grade actually, which presented its own challenge of needed to run low 8:00/mi pace to stay on it on the climbs, something most routes I do simply are too steep to allow.  Goes to show that doing mostly climbing in training and virtually no speed work can still end up producing a fairly good, faster paced race.  This wasn't an ultra, but I think some of Geoff Roes' thoughts on speed work apply.  Read his post here:  Need for Speed?  Not saying that speed work isn't helpful, but that it seems that if you do lots of climbing and more strength oriented running, you can do well on some faster long distance runs, but that it doesn't seem work the other way around.  If you do lots of speed, but then try to do a 12 mile run with 2,500 ft of vert you're going to be sucking wind...this has been my personal observation, and if Roes is telling the truth about not doing any speed work, he certainly did much to strengthen his theory at this year's Chuckanut 50K where he ran a new course record time at a race that tends to favor some faster runners.  Anyway, on to this weeks numbers:

6 runs
07:33:22 h:m:s
50.73 mi
7,554 ft gain

Some good running this week as the snow slowly comes off...looking forward to doing some significant climbing in a couple weeks as more routes open up.  Have a good week everyone.  Any let me know if you have any questions about the race or comments about speed work for long distance running (20 miles+ ?).


Matt said...

Nice work on the race! Thanks for taking us through the transition of the race, helps us to learn a lot about what goes on in a runners mind throughout the race.

Stephen said...

David, I got the Idahostatesman paper that has a listing of a finishers and it shows you at 46th out of 2407. Not bad at all. I can give you the paper the next time I see you.

David Henry said...

Matt, thanks for reading.

Stephen, thanks for the info...I tried to count all those with a better time than myself, but probably missed a few women that beat me too. I wouldn't mind seeing the paper sometime.