Saturday, July 28, 2012

2012 Capitol Mile Race Report

Last Sunday, after six weeks of training, the boys and I did the Capitol Mile for the seventh year in a row.

We always train with the Fleet Feet Miler in Training program, which meets once night a week for six weeks.  This year we trained at Memorial High School track on Tuesday nights.  Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate.  It was brutally hot (over 100 degrees with the heat index) this summer, so our Tuesday night track practices were cancelled twice and once moved to a park with some shade.  Then, one evening Jake had a massive bloody nose that landed us in urgent care for the night.  This meant that we were able to participate in only 2 of the 6 planned workouts.

But never fear because we were not going to allow setbacks to be obstacles.  With the help of a little sidewalk chalk and my Garmin, we were able to mark off 100 meters; 300 meters; and 400 meters to hit our workouts.  My friend Michelle, who is training with us, is also our neighbor.  So many mornings, the boys, Michelle and I would be out on our street running super fast in the very early morning hours.  It was a lot of fun!

This season our coaches also gave us a weekly homework assignment so we could add in a second speed workout per week if we wanted.  I loved having a second hard workout and my coach was great with helping me fit it all in to my Chicago Marathon Training plan that started the same week my Miler in Training started.

So, even though training was far from perfect, I put a lot of quality work in.  We even threw in a couple races so a couple weeks I got in 3 speed workouts.  This is a far cry from my normal marathon training and very fun!

That said, I wasn't sure what to expect for this race.  My stated goal is always sub-6 ("A" Goal), but I have only landed that once (in 2007).  According to all of the race calculators I looked at, I should be between 6:04 and 6:08 based on my marathon times.  I just decided I'd go for sub-6, but I would be super happy with anything under 6:10 ("B" Goal).

As for the boys, James ran 6:18 last year, so I thought he'd have a good shot at sub-6.  Jake ran a 7:26 last year and I wasn't sure what he'd do this year because he really wasn't into the training.  My friend Michelle hadn't done this race, but she is super speedy.  I pegged her at 5:40 and that is the pace she trained for.

Like any race, the weather is an important factor.  Because the mile is so short, it isn't a potential deal breaker like it can be for the marathon, but I was certainly watching it closely given how hot this summer has been in Wisconsin.  During the days prior to the race, the forecast was ridiculous.  Weatherunderground was calling for temps in the upper 90s and a heat index of 111.  That is crazy.  The race heats start at 3:15 pm and it is July afterall, but 111 is crazy.  I told Michelle if it really got that hot, we'd have to skip the race and hit Jolly Bob's (local Jamacian joint) for boat drinks instead. :)

Lucky for us, the weather cooperated.  It was actually overcast in the mid 80s. We met up downtown around 2:30.  Michelle and I were both going in the Fast Women's heat - which was women seeded under 6:15.  We did our warmup and it started sprinkling - yay - this awesome!  Unfortunately by the time we started our drills and striders, it stopped and the sun was fully out.  I am not sure what the weather at race time was, but I would guess it was right around 90 degrees and runny.

While the mile is short, it is certainly not an all-out sprint and having a good race strategy and execution is important.  If you go out way too fast, you will pay for it - especially on this course which has a long hill smack dab in the middle of it.  I did some research pre-race and developed the following race strategy:
First Quarter:  For a sub-6, I would need to average just under 1:30s per quarter.  The first quarter of the race is flat, sharp turn, then downhill.  I was hoping to come in just a few seconds faster than pace.  
Second Quarter:  The second quarter continues downhill, sharp turn, flattens out, another sharp turn then we start climbing the one and only (but significant) hill.  My goal was to really focus and hit my 1:30.  
Third Quarter:  The third quarter is the hardest as it is finishing the hill, turning, running a flat stretch, another turn back onto the nice little downhill.  I knew I'd lose some time on the hill and my goal was just to hang on to pace as much as I could and recover pace once I turned.  My coach advised me to focus on accelerating at the top through the curve.  
Home Stretch:  For the final quarter, I just wanted to give it everything I had left.
Overall:  There are 6 sharp turns in the race.  I planned to accelerate through each one and envision swinging myself around the corner.  I also repeatedly reminded myself of how much the mile hurts.  The first half you get through pretty readily on adrenaline, but make no mistake, the second half hurts.  But I am trained, I am ready.  It should only be six minutes of my life. Let's do this!  
Race Time!
This race is hard because it doesn't start until late afternoon.  It is nice to be able to sleep in, but it is hard to wait anxiously all day for the race.  By go time, I was a bundle of nervous energy!  When we got to the starting area, however, we were informed that the race director decided to combine the fast men's and women's heats because there were not enough people - so we wouldn't be starting for another 15 minutes.  That threw us off a little because we were ready to run!  But we waited, warmed up some more and then finally toed the line.

All of the men lining up were planning to run sub-5.  There were only 5 women.  One of the women I recognized because she runs the race (and wins it) every year.  She is a sub-5 miler and participated in the 2000 Olympics in the 5k and 10k for the Irish team.  She mentioned that she was aiming for a 4:40.  Holy crap.  I knew Michelle would be a lot faster than me too.  So there was a healthy chance I would end up coming in dead last in my heat.  But I really didn't care (or so I convinced myself).  I was here to run my race and I was READY - last or not.

The gun went off.  Right away 3 women were ahead of me and the 4th was tucked in right behind me.  I looked at my watch at the first turn and I was at a 5:20 pace.  SLOW DOWN MINDI.  So I did and the woman behind me promptly passed me.  But she then slowed down rather significantly and I passed her just before the quarter.  My Garmin clicked off 1:27 (it was actually almost 1:28, but it displayed 1:27).  Perfect.  

I held on through the second quarter and mentally focused on staying on pace.  I also tried to accelerate through each curve as planned. As I started going up the hill, I saw John and the boys and gave them big high 5s.  My coach also yelled out my time at the half (2:58) and told me I was on track - GO!  My Garmin clicked off a 1:29.  Sweet.  Then it started getting really hard as I knew it would.  I tried to hang on, but was slowing down.  
As I reached the top of the hill, I focused on accelerating and getting my pace back up.  I was just working and doing what I could.  After this point, I no longer noticed my Garmin or lap splits, but my third quarter was 1:39.  From that point it was downhill, turn and a straightaway into the finishing chute.  I was hurting, but it was very motivating to know there was still a woman behind me.  I did not hear her, but I did not want to be passed.  Down the home stretch, I was giving it everything I had, but my legs felt like jello (coach later asked me about it - apparently I looked like they felt like jello too).  I ended up finishing in 6:09.  (Garmin said last quarter was 1:27), but it measured short by 5 seconds.
It was not my "A" goal, but I was very happy because I met my "B" goal and I knew I executed the race well.  Michelle finished in 5:54.  Great to see both of us coming in with big smiles!  
The winner finished in 4:5x.  Sounds terrible, but it gave me some comfort that the Olympian was also 10+ secs off her A goal.  :)

That was hard...
Boys Race:
The boys were up next!  Unlike the fast race, the 18 and under heats for girls and boys were both huge.  Both of the boys were in really bad mind sets for a race and had been bickering with each other non-stop pre-race.  I kept telling them to regroup, but they had to run their own races.  I knew James was worried about going out too fast, but I just told him to go for it.  The gun went off and they both looked strong.  I positioned myself at the half and James came through in 3:08.  Jake was right around 3:3x.  James looked like he was hurting pretty badly and I hoped he hadn't gone out too fast (I later found out he didn't and hit the quarter at 1:3x).

As they came down the home stretch, James was running with my friend Anne's son, Charlie.  Anne and I are very close in this race every year, and the last couple of years our boys have too.  So I screamed my head at them to GO and GIVE IT!  They took it in, but James did not have much left.  He finished in 6:22 (approx - official results not yet up).  

I then saw Jake and started screaming at him to give it everything he had.  Now, this kid always has huge speed at the end and once again, he turned on the afterburners and screamed in for a sub-7 (6:58).  Yes, that is almost a 30 second PR.  Not too shabby.
Apparently, even though James was bummed, he greeted his brother at the finish with a high 5 and half hug.  What a great kid.

Open Women's Race:
We had to get going to get the boys off to summer camp, but I finagled my way into watching the open women's race.  My friend Anne was running in it.  Every year, she and I are very close in this race and I was bummed we did not get to race it together.  It was funny too because even though I was second to last in the fast heat, Anne came in and at the tape took the win at 6:10.  I couldn't believe how close our times were - and I really had wished we raced together because I am betting we could have pushed each other to a second or 2 faster.  Oh well - lesson learned to plan better for next year.
My running buddies
I ended up coming in 4th woman overall and won my age group.  
Michelle came in 3rd woman and scored some hardware and some cash.
James missed out on awards unfortunately, but
Jake won 2nd in his age group.

Good stuff. Can't wait to do it again next year.
Our MIT coaches!

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