Monday, December 1, 2008


The old Run to the Far Side is now Run Wild for a Child. While it doesn't inspire perhaps the same old costume creativity, the costume prize list is still stronger than those for running performance, providing a focus on fun appropriate for the holiday weekend.

This was my third competitive run of the year, after the Dolphin Running Club Embarcadero 10km and the Quimby Low-Key Hillclimb. Despite residual fatigue the day before from Thanksgiving's Low-Key Hillclimb, I was hoping to approach my goal of 40 minutes today. As I slowly ran around the start area to warm up, it was hard to imagine how I'd be able to pull this off, as my legs were a bit sore. But a series of loosening exercises combined with light running had me feeling good enough at the start.

Road running is so surreal.... each mile has its own character, inspiring a shift of focus on what is such an internally focused sport. A tension between relaxation and effort. Relaxation is the key to efficiency, yet I need to consistently trade off the comfort it provides for more effort and speed. Surreality in being surrounded by a near-static matrix of runners, pushing the body to its limits, yet feeling as if I'm being carried along by a current independent of will.

After the first half-mile' sorting out, I found myself drifting backwards relative to the current on the gradual descent in the pan-handle. I regained this ground relative to the flow on the subsequent ascent, then held static on the more prominent climb of Conservatory Drive (the sight of a gun killing the previous night). When I hit 5 miles, it was time to open the tap, draw a bit from my own inner violence. I was thus able to improve my pace to what for me is a quite good 6:10 per mile.

Pacing based on time splits

Unfortunately I missed mile markers 2, 3, and 6, so pacing data is limited (see plot). What the data show is although I felt I was pushing my limits throughout the race, I might have had too much in the tank at the end. It's hard to judge, though, with the altitude changes on the course. For example, my mile 4-5 split included the Conservatory Drive climb and descent as well as some of the Panhandle ascent.

One thing the experience taught me, though, is I need more work on my downhill running. Nathan suggested hip flexor exercises. That's the next thing to add to my stretching program.

Next week: Pacific Coast Trail Runs Huddart Park 17 km course. I've never actually run on trails before, so this will be a new experience for me. If I had to set a target, I'd say 90 minutes would be solid. But the real goal is to experience my first competitive trail event.

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