Sunday, May 10, 2009

2009 Riverbank Run

One of my stated goals at the beginning of the year was to run a sub 2 hour Riverbank in 2009. I started my training early in January and was diligent and aggressive. For hours of lonely and cold miles I looked forward to completing my Riverbank goal. So naturally I am a little disappointed with the result of this years race. After an up and down 4 months of training I started Saturday's race knowing that sub 2 hours was a stretch but still possible. The race did not go as I hoped, but I still finished with a respectable 2:05:49 - my 2nd best Riverbank time in 5 years.
Saturday was a cool and cloudy morning, with temperatures in the low 50s. As we lined up in the starting corral it started raining. For 5 minutes before we started it rained quite hard and the rain continued for the first 30 minutes of the race. I started aggressively hoping my body would feel really good...but well aware that I really should be running a little slower.

Mile 1 - 7:53
Mile 2 - 7:40
Mile 3 - 8:07 (long uphill)
Mile 4 - 7:56
Mile 5 - 7:28 (long downhill)
Mile 6 - 8:00
Mile 7 - 7:52
Mile 8 - 8:01
Mile 9 - 8:06
Mile 10 - 8:01
Mile 11 - 9:07 (unfortunate, but very necessary bio break)
Mile 12 - 7:48
Mile 13 - 8:12
Mile 14 - 8:28
Mile 15 - 8:49

This year the Grand River flooded and the first half of the course was adjusted. Unfortunately, the new route added some significant hills that probably doubled the overall difficulty of the course. The new hills were miles 2-4 and impacted the rest of the run for everyone. Around mile 8 my legs were growing very weary and I felt the growing urge to go to the bathroom. I nervously watched for a porta john as the urge grew and finally found one during mile 11. It was occupied when I arrived and the stop cost me 1:30.

At mile 12 my legs hit their limit. The last 3 miles were misery as I willed myself to keep running. My main motivation was the fear that Derek would pass and beat me. I haven't finished a Riverbank with so little left in my legs, and I hardly even mustered a final kick for the last 100 yards. All in all, I can't complain about my overall time. It is a tough race and I averaged 8:07 minutes/mile, which I am proud of. For comparison, my Riverbank career:
2005 - 2:16:56
2006 - 2:06:46
2007 - 2:01:16
2008 - 2:12:47
2009 - 2:05:49

So 2 hours eludes me again. With each passing year I learn something. This is what prevented my success this year in order of importance:
  • Knee Injury - In mid February I stopped running altogether for nearly 4 weeks because of pain in my right knee. This cut out 4 weeks of crucial training that I could never recover. I still don't know whether the injury was from a bad pair of running shoes or overuse. Lesson: don't start too fast or hard in January, check shoes as soon as pain begins.
  • My inability to drop 10 lbs of body weight - This was the first time since 2005 that I raced as a Clydesdale B (flattering name, right?), which is men that weigh 200+. Lesson: watch weight over winter so weight loss isn't necessary during training.
  • Poor taper - I ran too much and too hard in the final 2 weeks. I was on my feet far too much on Thursday and Friday. I played my first softball game 4 days before the race, and was still sore on Saturday. Lesson: don't play softball the week before the race, cut mileage way down for 2 weeks prior, minimize everything for 2 days prior.
  • Hilly course
  • Too much Gu - While Gu is very helpful during the run for an energy boost, I think I used too much (or wasn't used to it) and that is what prompted my bio break. Lesson: experiment more with Gu during training runs, don't overdo it during the race.
These aren't meant to be excuses. They are to remind me what to do next year because I've now made a few of these mistakes more than once.

I enjoyed sharing the race with a lot of friends and family. Unfortunately it was too cold to hang around afterward and chat. Paul had an amazing race and easily eclipsed 2 hours. Derek trained much harder this year and almost caught me at the end, finishing 3 minutes back. Jason and Darren didn't have good showings and were shown up by Steve and Marv.
Final times were:

Paul - 1:54:51
Randy - 2:05:49
Derek - 2:08:36
Lisa - 2:15:26
Jenny - 2:25:15
Jason - 2:31:01
Steve - 2:31:02
Marv - 2:34:54
Darren - 2:42:07
Laura - 3:06:58

Carissa ran her first 5k and finished with a very good 28:28.

I love the Riverbank!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, you commented on the fact that your old shoes gave you a knee injury. I would like to encourage you to look at proper running form (the real cause behind knee pain) on either youtube or google it. This may be your answer to pain and also breaking the 2 hr mark

10:08 PM  
Anonymous Laura said...

knowing you were going to put my time on your blog should've been more incentive to at least get under 3 hours... :)

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Derek said...

If you look closely at the picture of me running you can see a couple hard-core bleeders running nearby. Nipple-chafing in the rain...

4:54 PM  

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