Warning - this is going to be an lbrr (local acronym, first coined I believe by Ian
, standing for long boring race report) much like the ones I've been writing. I've got to develop a new take on these, but it ain't going to be today.
Nothing like a hometown marathon. Only since my marathon is in California in the next two weeks, I did the next best thing. I raced the 8k that is tacked on to the marathon, and came early and stayed late to support my peeps running the marathon and also, for the first time, the half marathon.
Kevin Forde and I ran the 2.7 miles or so down to the Art Museum as a warmup and we got to send off the marathoners. Half hour later we were lined up ourselves just alongside the marathon start for the 8k start. While this race plays second fiddle to the marathon, there was some drama in it for me as the Mid Atlantic USATF Grand Prix individual title was at stake, and there was a $250 purse for first masters finisher.
Eying the field at the start, there were alot of fast guys, but mostly young pups. The only mature gentleman I recognized who might give me competition was Greg Cauller, a guy I have dueled with a few times over the last few years. David James, my competition in the Grand Prix, was also present.
Gun goes off and a large pack takes off to the front as we head down the Ben Franklin Parkway and around Logan Circle. I'm one of the stragglers a bit behind this pack. I figure I'll play lion and poach the ones who can't hang. I keep this position through the first mile (5:07) at which point I realize that I am in fact not alone. As we now head up Kelly Drive, there are several women breathing down my neck, and I realize that the pack in front of me was devoid of any feminine presence. I got nothing against being in the company of fast women, especially if they can keep me going. They stuck behind me, perhaps to pace, perhaps to draft, and I was fully aware that they were competing with each other and I was part of the scenery.
Mike is shouting his encouragement at mile 2, which was a little back to earth at 5:18. Next mile also passes in 5:18, and is uneventful except for that I reel in one casualty from the lead pack. The turnaround is a little past this checkpoint, and Cauller is safely behind me. The women are still stalking me. Its back down Kelly Drive to the Art Museum. I could run the rest of this course with my eyes closed. Mile 4, with Mike shouting I was still at sub 5:14 pace, passes in 5:14. Still holding my position. I chug the last not-quite fifth mile, passing by Ryan Walsh, and, as I expected, with about 100 meters to go the two women behind me kick it past me to finish their race and I can't hang on. It doesn't bother me that they beat me, but I would like to have finished one second faster to get my time under 26 minutes. That is my finishing time - 26 minutes flat.
But that is all I can complain about. David James finishes in about 29 and a half minutes, and while that nets him a very respectable 85 points on the WAVA scale
, my finish gets me 87.5 points. So, unofficially, I am the Grand Prix champ. As first master I also get $250 in prize money, a big chunk of which will go towards a nice pasta dinner with some good Cali wine in Sacramento. Both by McMillan's race predictor and by the WAVA scale, this race was my best race performance ever. Although I can't prove it, I attribute this little extra I had to Thursday's track workout, which really loosened me up mentally. It also predicts a 2:33 marathon time, which is pretty heady stuff. I won't try for that, but does make me inclined to take Mike's suggestion to aim for a 5:55 pace (instead of a 6 minute pace) in Sacramento, which would be good for a 2:35 marathon time.
So this fairytale season just keeps on going. And one more race to go.
I'd be remiss to mention that all of my peeps I was particularly following also ran big today. I knew many more folks who ran, but there are a few folks whose training I'd been a part of, in some respect, over the course of this fall so that I had a good idea of their aspirations for this race. Kevin Jude was shooting for a 1:25 in the half marathon and finished a few seconds over that. This is a 3+ minute PR time for him. Craig Stone, in the marathon, broke 3 hours by 5 seconds. This is what he was shooting for, and was in fine shape to do it, but as he was all too aware, in a marathon one just never knows. Steve Kollar finished in 2:52, a big pr for him and his second straight excellent Philly marathon performance. He's been training like an animal this fall too. And finally, in perhaps the most impressive performance, "English" Mike Dobres ran a 3:28(!) good enough to send him to Boston. He had mentioned a BQ as a reach goal, but in all honesty (sorry Mike) I wrote that off to be more like a wet dream. But he got it, and I am ecstatic for him. Can't wait to hear the stories.
So the party in Boston in April just promises to get bigger, and it becomes ever harder not to go myself.
Tomorrow will be a rest day, on the roads as well as on the blog.