Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 Running of the Bulls

2008 Running of the Bulls
Huntsville, AL
August 23, 2008
Official Results

I had been targeting this race for a few weeks knowing that it was a relatively flat course that could produce some fast times. Although I have been really intent on breaking 17 minutes in a 5k race, I really haven't been training for it. I've been sick and unable to really kick it, plus the August dog days of the south have been mild, but still hot for speed work. It's hard to expect stellar results when my speed work has been racing.

The weather looked like it might cooperate this morning as I drove over the mountain. It was overcast but humid. Tropical storm Fay was starting to affect our weather patterns. The temperature was in the low to mid 70's.

I signed up for the race on Friday night and knew that I would be facing Jason Reneau and Brett Addington who are both in M30-34. We might very well be the top 3 finishers in some sort of order. Upon arriving at the race, the rumors were confirmed and the Randolph Cross Country Runners were there, which meant Keith Buell. I saw him run a pretty commanding race here last year, breaking 17 but not having much competition in the process.

I did a 2 mile warm up, running partly alone and then for a few minutes with Wayne Heckler. Just before the start, I also saw Sean Allan and Trey Broadway. They are both capable of winning races if they are well trained. Sean was a last minute entry after I talked with him last night at Fleet Feet.

The Running of the Bulls is an out and back course on the Hampton Cove Greenway. It really does give you the feeling of being in Pamplona, as it is very tight and winding, and on the way back after the turn, the leaders get to fight through the rest of the field in masses running 4 wide across the path. It is mostly blacktop and very flat. The only challenge is that at the 2.9 mile mark, the course winds up onto an overpass and winding back down and under the road, going uphill to the finish.

My plan was to run splits of 5:30, 5:25, 5:25 and change for sub 17.

The first mile was fast, very fast. The starters were lined up pretty close to pace at the start, but as with many young runners, they went out to fast. Within 30 seconds I was lost amongst 20 other runners, despite starting in the front. I knew that it wouldn't last and quickly I would be near the front. The course is winding so it would be smart to run the tangents and save steps. I ran alongside Jason for the first half mile or so and passed most of the younger runners. At the mile mark, I was in 4th, trailing Keith, Jason and Trey. I had Sean and Brett very close behind. The mile was much faster than planned, clocking 5:23.24. I had been in this position before and I wanted to start slower today as to have more at the finish.

The second mile was more comfortable in pace. We passed by Blake (Thompson) heading down toward the turn around. This was a great turnaround on the cul-de-sac, as opposed to a cone turnaround, making it a fast transition. The aid station was just past the turn and I was feeling the heat and needed some fluids. I appreciate the fact that people volunteer for races, but there should be an age limit. After Trey took water, the next water option was a 7 year old (guessing) girl. I went to grab the cup from her and she backed off, as she was afraid to be splashed with water. I missed the cup and pushed on. I didn't need a ton, just a splash to get the dryness out of my mouth and pour the rest on my head. I am not suggesting that she cost me the race as I was the one that missed the cup. I should have been more aggressive with it.

After passing Blake again, we started to come across the rest of the 230 runners. As I mentioned, they ran 4 wide in places, making it tough to fight through. I was running neck and neck with Trey now and trying to pass. Finally we hit a bend in the trail and I took the opportunity to run out and turn in front of him, putting him behind me. I wasn't sure what to expect in doing this, but I wanted to be in the top 3 at the end. The second mile was slightly slower, clocking 5:28.08, for a combined time of 10:51. I was still on pace to break 17.

After passing Trey, the people started to thin out and it was just time in front of me. I started looking at my watch more and more and the distance was passing by very slowly. I think I looked at my gps a dozen time in the next half mile. It was a 2:49 split, which was off my pace, but not disaster, yet.

This is where I really started to struggle. The fast start was not coming back to haunt me. The only thing that was of benefit was that Jason was slowing slightly also, so I wasn't loosing much distance. He was maybe 8-10 seconds ahead and had been for awhile. My pace fell off and as I looked at the GPS, I was barely under 6 minute miles. I thought that Trey and gang would be right behind me and would blow by at anytime. Little did I know that they were slipping also.

I came upon the ascent up to the overpass and took a quick look back. I had a little lead, but not much. Coming down off the overpass was nearly like a cone turn, as I had to almost stop to make the turn. I was now down to a a trot running under the highway, before seeing the crowd and picking it up. I knew that I was well over 17 minutes but still had a shot at a personal record. I sucked it up and ran through the finish strong. My 3rd mile was 5:44.87 and final time was 17:18.72. This was 5 seconds faster than the Outback race a few weeks ago in Sheffield. I was 2nd in M30-34.

I struggled through the chute, trying to get out of oxygen debt by taking a few deep breathes. I shook hands with Keith and Jason and moved along. Trey and Sean came through 5 and 8 seconds after me, respectively.

So like I said when I started this blog, I am disappointed, but it is not well justified as I really have not been training to break 17, so in the end I am happy with my results. That makes 14 top 5 finishes this year and 6 top 3 finishes in the last 7 races. Now I just need to start doing more track work and true tempo runs. I have to race the Rocketman Tri running leg of the relay tomorrow, but quality work starts Tuesday.

After the race I had a really good cool down running with Jason. We did 3 miles at about 7 minute pace, after taking a 5 minute break when the race was over. He was in the middle of an 18 mile day, in which he ran a great 5k. Unbelievable.