Tuesday, June 28, 2011

41st Annual Vestal XX: Race Report

Saturday, June 18, was the 41st Vestal XX Road Race (20K, 12.43 mi), held in the Town of Vestal near Binghamton, NY. This was a B race, so lower your expectations...

Training: Once again, I followed The Competitive Runner's Handbook Half Marathon plan, using a goal 10K pace of 7:30 (check out my training log and program at Google Docs). I was comfortable training at these training paces, and my base pace has steadily dropped from around 9:00/mile to about 8:40. Since Vestal is notoriously hilly, I added some distance, and hard hills to the longer runs. Running across the South Side of Binghamton to the B.U. campus and back was the key to my hill training. Since the Forks XV on March 27, I have run 230 miles.

Since I knew that marathon training was to begin in mid-June, I wanted to train easy and simply stay fit, going into Vestal with no hard time goal. I didn't crunch pace numbers or beat up the performance calculator, so I figured if I beat last year's 1:48:49 by "a few minutes," I would be happy.

Course: USATF has the  NY0743J course certification posted here. It's just a harmless loop!

Weather and Clothing: Very nice, especially since mid-June can get hot and humid. It was about 65 and overcast at the start so I wore my new Brooks shorts with the gel pocket and white sleeveless top. For about the last half of the race, I had my top pulled over my head behind my neck. Although I brought the NB940s thinking that I'd want the cushioning for pounding the downhills, I threw caution to the wind and wore my Saucony Grid Fastwitch 4's again (same as Forks).

Race: So I'm standing around the back of the starting pack, stretching a little and trying to stay loose, and expecting to hear some announcements. A 2-minute warning would have been nice but we never start races on time. All of a sudden, I can see runners' heads bobbing across the start line, so I figure "Oh shit!" and get in behind them. With fewer than 200 runners, it's easy to find a place, get moving and start moving up. The first mile is relatively flat so everyone treats it like a warmup jog.

I guess it's a good thing, but other than the start this was another uneventful race.

Here are the miles in detail (end milepost, time, description and net elevation change):
  1. 8:23: start at 860', up 25 ft to 885'
  2. 8:46: 1 hard hill, up 65'
  3. 8:16: start small rollers, up 50'
  4. 8:04: down 25'
  5. 8:18: up 55'
  6. 8:13: up 20'
  7. 8:29: up 50 ft to max elev 1100', up net 30'
  8. 8:02: start long rollers, down 75'
  9. 7:43: 1 good hill, net down 10'
  10. 8:02: down 25'
  11. 8:26: up 95 ft to 1065'
  12. 7:07: max elev 1080' at 11.3 mi then down 205'
  13. (12.4 mi) 3:06 or 7:45 pace: down 15'
This race is really two races -- a 10K with shorter, steeper hills (on local roads) that gets you warmed up for a 10K with longer hills (on a State highway). Fans of the "negative split" strategy would love this race! Once I got warmed up, my plan was to get into a 3-3 breathing pattern (3 steps breathing in, 3 steps out), which is around 8:20 pace. I was able to power up and down the hills using 2-2 breathing (while also passing people), then settle back to 3-3 on the flats. I was completely comfortable and warmed up by the turn onto Route 26 and kicked it up to 2-3/2-2 breathing.

Last year's pace for a 1:48:49 finish was 8:45, and I thought a good goal was to average between 8:00 and 8:30. The first couple of miles seemed inconsistent, but then it was good to see a few miles under 8:20 pace. After the turn, I was happy to see the pace get down around 8:00 and faster. Coming up on the 10 mile mark, I was trying to calculate my finish time. I knew it was going to be under 1:48, maybe by five minutes or so, but never thought about going lower.

I booked it down Rt. 26, passed a few more people, and made it across the line in 1:41:01 -- obviously something wrong with my watch... Average pace through 7 miles was 8:21, then 7:42 from mile 7 to the end; overall average pace 8:08.

Spectator/Volunteer Report Redux: You've got two hands -- clap 'em. And thanks for the pool water, Town of Vestal.

Injury Report: The left posterior tibial tendinitis had flared up again the week before the race and it's been nagging me since. I hope to ease into the marathon training without aggravating it. The Saucony's were fantastic - I give them credit for at least 2:00 of the PR and really only blame them a little for the PTT flareup.

Time and Place: My time - 1:41:01; official time 1:41:15, 64/178 (top 36%), 8/15 in M40-44 (first race in new age group!).

Comparison to Last Year: This was only my second time racing this course. I didn't even do any training runs on the course even though I really wanted a refresher. The long, hilly training runs must have worked -- the course seemed much less daunting and the hills seemed shorter and not as hard, even Glenwood-Rt. 26 and Pierce Hill.

Other Race Predictions: I am registered for the 2011 Wineglass Marathon on October 2. This race was a HUGE confidence booster for breaking 4:00.

No comments: