Jun 032011

What Was I Thinking? Sprints and Distance Do Not mix..or Do They?

by Kevin Robinson

Thought pattern……run the barefoot  5K the day before the 25K as an easy warm up and because it is a new adventure. Couldn’t possibly hurt my 25K performance too much as long as I get the training runs in during the months preceding, right?

My original plan was to train for the 50 miler, which was whittled down to the 50k when I realized that my schedule was not going to allow me the time to train properly for the 50m. As the months flew by and I not only didn’t get in my normal long runs, but I realized that my training was suffering severely. My longest run one month before was only 18 slow grueling miles at Mt A.

So…….running the 25K seemed the best option and it left more room for the addition of the barefoot 5K.
New plan in place so why did it feel like a cop-out? The thought of the 50K rolled around in my head for weeks before I finally convinced myself that I really would not be able to pull it off.

It is so hard to tell one’s self that a certain thing can not be done …….well of course I could attempt it and perhaps even find a way to finish, but at what cost and with nothing to prove it was a mute thought anyway.
My best bet was to PR the 25K, which I had no doubt I could do.

Don’t you hate when the mind makes promises that the body can’t deliver? I spent the whole week before the 5K thinking and planning the best way to enjoy the new event without compromising the 25K Pr. Seemed so simple……just running not racing …. yeah just a 5k warm up in the Minimus shoes.

It made sense as I had not trained for a 5k and my fastest run at the campus course was somewhere in the 9:50 pace area and that surely was not racing speed. A few years ago, when I was training and racing mostly 5ks, I ran a Pr on this course of 25:32 ……so my goal for the barefoot was around 30 minutes (around 9:30 pace)

It was fun telling people I was doubling up, running a race both days of the festival, but at the same time some little voice in my head kept telling me that it was not as simple as I made it sound. Who listens to those little voices anyway?

The start of the 5K was exciting and everyone took off real fast. I found myself sucked right into the excitement and ran the first mile at 7:20 (not as fast as it sounds as the first mile is mostly down hill)

I settled down some in mile two but still pulled off an 8:23 ……I was a bit winded and the hills of mile three were wearing on my mind. Had I gone out too fast, would the hills take their toll?

Actually mile three was tough but also the most fun. My paced slowed to about 9:18, which is still moving pretty good for me on the Campus hills. I was passing  bunches of runners, it felt so good.

Now I don’t want to lead you astray, some of the these runners were from the 5k group that started ten minutes before us, so I wasn’t actually racing them ……..at this point, my mind did not know nor care the difference.

The last half  mile I really picked things up and finish with probably the best kick I can remember on trails. I used everything I had and actually peaked at 14.8 mph. It was exciting and fun and stupid. After the finish, the realization of what I had done hit me hard. Limping with a sore left archilles and a sore right ankle loomed heavy on the thought of running the 25K the next day.

I kept asking myself, was it worth it and answering….hell yeah. I am a believer that you race the race in front of you and worry about the next race tomorrow. OK…..so I was starting to worry but that didn’t diminish the excitement of my 5k finish.

Day two at the Pineland Challenge Festival was just as electric as the first day. 50K and 50 mile runners were already plastering the trails when I arrived and the crowds were enjoying excitement. I knew my 25K race was going to be a struggle but was determined to at least finish it.

The first three miles were pretty bad (I thought). The legs were heavy, breathing labored, the archilles and ankle hurt with every step…..yet somehow I averaged 10:30 mile pace, partly because I ran the whole way.
Walking was not going to be an option.

As bad as I felt in the first three miles, they did not compare to the next two. Mile four and Five were just plain energy slapping as my pace dropped to 14:30 and running was the exception to the rule. I settled in after mile five and started enjoying the difficulty of the run much more. I guess mainly because I gave in to the failed concept of Pr-ing this race and just enjoying it instead.

The aid stations were energetic and very helpful, arguably the best of any race I have done. I did get a surprise at one station, after offering some water to dump over my head, I was soaked with a full gallon instead of the normal cup full………that sure cooled me off.

In the end, I did exactly what I promised, I ran the race that was in me on that particular day and found a way to enjoy the experience. I ran fairly even splits with a pretty good kick at the end. I didn’t PR the 25K, but that’s Ok. It seems I tend to forget the reason for running the trails in the first place …..to just have fun.

It was a great weekend, the beer was fantastic, Ian and Erik out did themselves…again, and I spent some quality time with some great people……what more could I ask for.

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