Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Malachi 2009 PR

Good thing getting back in the swing of blogging isn't as arduous as kicking up running again. What's it been? A few months? Well, on the up- and downsides, it's just been a ball of work, fun and training for me. I've been running a bunch with E*Speed and Salty while picking up some speed and 40-50-mile weeks in prep for Cleveland on May 17.

And part of the training plan was last weekend's 5-miler at St. Malachi. Anyone who's been around the blog awhile knows St. Malachi stays close to my heart because it was my first race ever. Somehow that little detail keeps me coming back each year, even when they seem to add new hills to the darn thing!

It's a great event, however, and I enjoyed it even more this year. I rode in and had a great warm-up with E before hitting the starting line a couple minutes before the gun. While I typically like to start closer to the front of any race, I was still feeling a little sticky at the start and welcomed the opening waddles of middle pack. All the slowed, stumbled people-dodging I had to do for the first quarter-mile was totally worth it.

I went into St. Malachi with one goal: run a steady race around 8:00/mile and finish any cut under 40. Lucky for me, E reminded me to ignore mile 1 split (last year I hit it "too fast" for my taste and slowed way down, not appreciating that it was plenty downhill), which was 6:49, and stay even through the hills. So, I did.

Pace didn't fall off too much through mile two —14:17 or 7:28 split— and my stiff morning legs finally loosened up right around the mile-three hill. I snorted some water as we turned up mile three (I finally reached the water stop at St. Malachi not parched and just wanted a splash of water... but I kind of need some practice with splashing that doesn't go up my nose!) and took a moderate slowdown up the incline. Of course, I was too busy choking to see my split... but I think it was around 22 or 23.

My recent hill repeats definitely made the hill more bearable, even if it wasn't any more fun. At least this year I didn't get heckled by a homeless man on a bike. The downhill, however, did bring much joy. While I rode that thing pretty smooth and steady, I could have picked up a few seconds with a touch of effort... but that's for next year.

Mile four gave me a boost— I crossed at 29:58, knew it wouldn't take me more than 10:00 to finish the last mile (even with the big even hill at the end) and just had to kill my goal!

Unfortunately the energy boost only lasted 2-3 minutes before race fatigue kicked in, and I started totally wussing the last mile. My mind flip-flopped between "yeah! let's shoot through this last bit" and "yeah... let's take a nap." Wimp.

It helped, though, to see my favorite fans —mom, Neil, Nino and Jessica— waiting at the last uphill turn to cheer me up the way. I don't remember that darned thing being so steep (I guess the hill repeats weren't as helpful on that part as I had hoped), but I wheezed my way up and crossed on a personal best 37:42 (7:32/mile)!

As always, I had a few moments of doubt after the finish (couldadonethis, shouldadonethat), but how could I complain about this personal best? It's almost 3:00 better than the Turkey Trot in November and 7:18 faster than my first Malachi. Here's to improvement!

Congrats to all the awesome runners to hit the race this weekend! Photos to come.