Sunday, November 21, 2010

Race report: Long Beach Turkey Trot

West facing view on the boardwalk. Finish line in the distance
Today's run (Long Beach Turkey Trot): 6.2 miles at 55:10 (8:53 pace)

I ran my second 10K in as many weeks this morning in a race that provided a fast field and inspiring views. I was happy with last week's performance and wasn't looking for a PR this morning but I managed to run a personal best for the second straight week. I arrived fairly early and was fortunate to find a parking spot very close to the registration area. That came in handy as I made a few trips back to my car to help me keep warm before the start. It was definitely cold but the wind was milder than I'd expected.

Chilly competitors gathering prior to race time
I met up with Dave on the boardwalk and he suggested that we make our way to the front to get a good position for the start. There were no starting line mats so no time adjustments would be made for those who started in the back. It was good that Dave thought of that and we took off quickly heading east along the boardwalk, moving at rapid pace. It wasn't until after the race when Dave pointed out that we started near the front that I realized why I felt so slow with so many people charging past me in the first few minutes. Dave got out ahead and I tracked him for a couple of miles before I lost sight of his orange hat. I wasn't looking at my Garmin so when it chirped for one mile I was surprised and then floored to see I'd covered it at an 8:05 pace. The energy of the front of the pack runners had carried me quickly to that point but I knew that pace was not sustainable for five more miles.

I forced myself to slow down a little and was passed by speedy runners who could more easily maintain eight minute per mile paces. The course, that started along the ocean, moved north and west until we turned east along Park Ave.,  the main road through Long Beach. The miles passed quickly and before long we'd turned north on Magnolia on our way to Bay Drive that provided more views of the water. Once we reached Washington Boulevard I knew, happily, that there was less distance to run than what we'd already covered. At the four mile mark the split clock showed 34:40 and I knew I was tracking well under 9:00 per mile. As usual, the last 2.2 miles was the toughest and I kept fighting the urge to ease off the throttle. I was still getting passed more than I was passing people but I was determined to preserve my potential PR time.

Dave on right, post race. I swear we didn't plan the matching outfits
I was glad when I saw runners turning left onto a road that I knew would take us back to the boardwalk. Once I made it to the boardwalk I turned east and quickly passed the mile 5 marker. The race official was calling times that were still in the high 40:00 range and I felt I had a chance to beat last week's time. It seemed to take forever to run the final 1.2 miles and when I saw the finish line I felt the same as I did at Cow Harbor: "So close but so far." When I got to the final hundred yards I picked up the pace and came over the line running hard. I met up with Dave who also had a good race. His time was in the 53 minute range, beating his Hope for Warrior's time from last week as well. Dave was soon joined by his wife and daughters who were quite proud of their dad.

Taking a moment to enjoy the ocean view after the race
I stuck around for the awards but it started feeling too cold, even with the hooded running jacket I'd brought to wear post-race. They posted the results and I checked my time before heading home. Another mid pack finish but at least I ended up in the top half. I'm not sure how much more I can improve my 10K time but I like the direction that it's going. Well, two November races done and one to go next Thursday. That Turkey Trot will be extra fun because I'll have my family with me on the course, not just at the finish line.

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