But I'm fine with it. I ran a good race (and actually won my heat, which always feels nice). And one of my biggest objectives for this race was to practice staying relaxed and fluid but powerful all the way to the finish, just like Matt Centrowitz. And I did that. Heck, I even did it for 2 minutes longer than Centrowitz does it. So there.
Warmed up with 2.5 miles easy jog, plus some drills and strides, and a hard 300m. The race was split into two heats, with 5:20 being the cut-off, and so I opted for the slower heat.
As these races always do, everyone started out at a sprint. I settled into the middle of the pack, and then pulled to the front as people began to run out of gas. I ran in lockstep with my teammate Tim for the first 600m or so before I started to pull ahead. Unlike last week, there were still a few kids ahead of me, so I was able to hone in on them as focal points. But by the last 600m or so, I was alone again, and soloed the rest of the race.
As I noted, my big goal for this race was just make sure I ran strong and relaxed, but powerful, all the way. This is exactly what US superstars like Morgan Uceny, Bernard Lagat, and Matt Centrowitz seem to do, and they're good models to emulate. In contrast, when I try to run too fast, I seem to tense up and work against myself, with the result being that I actually slow down. I didn't do that here, but instead stayed fluid all the way to the finish, and so I'm happy.
That being said, I still don't seem to be able to find that extra fast gear for the last lap. I felt like I could have backed off of the pace just slightly and run another lap, but I couldn't get my legs to move any faster. I tried to push off more powerfully with each step while keeping the same rhythm, and that added a bit of pace, but wasn't a true kick.
It's not that I'm not willing and even eager to dig deeper. I just don't know how to do it without tensing up and working against myself. In short, I don't know how to sprint. Which makes sense, since I'm not a sprinter. So, that's maybe something to play with in future races. Just playing with different stuff, like pumping my arms more, etc, in the last 200m to see if that works. I'm also thinking that, if my coach approves, I'll hop into the faster heat next time, and just see if that makes a difference in my time.
In any event, the main point of doing these races is to get experience with running substantially faster than my normal race pace, and also to practice racing strategies. And I'm definitely accomplishing both of those. And since I'm a long distance runner, the fact that I felt like I couldn't pick it up, but could have run longer at a slightly slower pace, ain't a bad thing.
- Used a puff of the inhaler about 45 minutes before, and another about 20 minutes before
- It's funny how I'm much happier with this race than I was with the one two weeks ago, even though the time was essentially the same. Probably both because I won my heat and because I ran a very good 5K earlier this week, so a slow mile doesn't rock my confidence.
- Temp of 89 and DP of 76 for the race. But (again) nice thing about races that last less than 6 minutes is that heat and humidity are not factors.
- As I wrote above, it'll be interesting to see if seeding myself in the faster heat makes a difference in my time next time. I may actually also do a mid-week evening track meet in about 2 weeks - that meet looks like it will have a lot of people running about 5:30-ish. Maybe that will make the difference.
- Really debated hopping into either the 800m or the 400m race (slowest 400m sprinter was 1:27, so at least I wouldn't have been last). But, I'm planning on meeting my team for a long run tomorrow, and so I didn't need to be out in the sun and heat any more today (this will apparently be the hottest day in DC EVER). Maybe another time.