Showing posts with label Run for the Warriors. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Run for the Warriors. Show all posts

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Race report: 2011 Run for the Warriors

Field of Honor near the 10K start
Today's run (Run for the Warriors 10K): 6.2 miles
Clock time: 56:05 - Net time (chip): 55:50

The Run for the Warriors race is in its 4th year and I've participated over the last two years. Last year I ran it in 56:23, which (at that time) was my fastest 10K to date. I had low expectations for today's race because I have not been running well this past month. Due to that, my weekly distance has dropped about 30% since the end of September. I'm pleased to report that I beat my performance expectations handily today.  I'm not sure why, but I'm happy that I did.

This race is all about those who serve in the military and the families that support them. There's a strong patriotic theme overlaying all the proceedings and the event feels both festive and serious.

The organizers did a great job, as they did last year, and they corrected a few things from the 2010 race that made it a better experience. First, there were twice as many Port-O-Potti's to handle the 2,000+ crowd than there were last year. People appreciated that. Secondly, the 10K race started before the 5K this year. That prevented much of the congestion we experienced last year, caused by the side by side walkers who blocked runners that started behind them. It was still crowded at the start with just the 10K runners, but it was much better this year.

Like last year, the pre-race program involved the acknowledgment of the soldiers who serve in the armed forces and the local service people who'd lost their lives in battle. It was an emotional scene with family members that lost loved ones running in their honor.

Starting the 10K race with a shout to my family
The race started at 9:30 AM and that caught me by surprise because the website said the 10K start would happpen at 9:45. Luckily, my daughter was paying attention and she rushed me to the line just minutes before the starting gun sounded. Suddenly we were off and I was was about to discover whether I had the fitness to compete today.

I had taken a GU Roctane gel twenty minutes prior to the start and I felt good as we began to move. We all started slowly due to the crowd. That was fine with me because my original plan was to start slow and pick up speed if I felt I could maintain a faster pace. By the time we reached the off-ramp on Sunrise Highway, leading to Wellwood Avenue, I knew that I had enough in reserve to get through the race. My original goal was to run this race under 62 minutes and I thought I had a good shot at that.

The course is flat and probably more downhill than uphill. I passed a fair number of people on Wellwood, but I also got passed by more than a few. There were two soldiers doing the entire race on their hands and feet and that looked really hard. I felt badly for them but they were doing it in symbolic solidarity with their overseas compatriots.

We passed the first mile and I saw that I was pacing at 9:02 and worried that I was going too fast that early in the race. I felt good so I maintained that pace and, before I knew it, we had taken the left onto E. Hoffman Ave. This road parallels the LIRR tracks and it had been resurfaced since last year's race.

The smooth blacktop was an excellent surface to follow and at the 2 mile point I was cruising. I really felt like I was floating. I managed to catch up to a few runners and pass them and I kept encountering a group of soldiers who were running together in line, stopping every mile to do a series of push-ups. Must be great to be in that shape.

When we turned north onto Great East Neck Road that intersects with Route 109, I had another Roctane gel. I didn't really need it then, but I wanted some extra energy for the remaining three miles. I took some water to wash it down and, when we hit 109, I was feeling well fueled.

I'd come through the 5K point at around 28 minutes and was looking for the 4 mile marker along the northern road. By this time I started to think I might finish with a decent time. The following minutes were unremarkable and I wondered if I'd already passed 4 miles when my Garmin chirped. I was amazed to see I'd just passed five miles!

I saw the sign for the exit onto Sunrise Highway that confirmed that I was on my last mile. I was running well but the off ramp had a long steep rise and I felt some strain for the first time in the race. Before long we were heading down the ramp onto Sunrise and race volunteer yelled "Almost there, just a half a mile to go!" As always, that last half mile seemed longer than it should, but when I saw the big flag and the crowds along the road I kicked into finish mode.

100 feet to the finish line
About 100 feet prior to the line, my wife and kids stood cheering and this gave me the impetus to push even harder at the end. The clock said 56:05 when I finished, but my net was 13 seconds less. No big deal. Either way I was just north of the 9:00 mark but my goal prior to the race was to stay below 10:00. I made that goal for sure and felt very strong after the race. I guess my conditioning was better than I'd judged it to be.

It was great surprise to run this race that I almost skipped because I thought I wasn't ready to do it. I give my wife credit for convincing me to run the race regardless of my performance. Next weekend is the Long Beach Turkey Trot, another 10K. I'll go into that with greater expectations but, like today, I'll run my race based on how I'm feeling and see how it goes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Ready or not, I'm racing tomorrow

It's less than a day until I line up for the Run for the Warriors 10K and I'm curious to see how I do. I don't have high expectations for a record setting performance, although I do have a finish time goal. I'll reveal how close I come to that, after the race.

I'm usually primed for competition the days before a race and (if I've followed my training plan) reach my peak on race day. Last week's seven mile run confirmed that I'm out of practice for distances greater than than 5 miles. I don't know how I'll be feeling when I pass that point but (at least) the effects from my flu shot and my semi-cold seem to have passed.

This morning I ran through my favorite set of core exercises. It's a light workout that won't do much, but it might help a little. Tomorrow I'll start slow and pick up the pace as I go along, aiming for negative splits for the second half. That may be a little ambitious, but it's a strategy. It's been a busy Saturday but I did get some extra sleep last night. Will proper rest and feeling healthy translate into a good run? I'll let you know tomorrow.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day, Warrior's weekend

Last year's finish
It just occurred to me that the date for the Run for the Warriors 10K on Sunday isn't random. This race, held on the Sunday closest to Veteran's Day, is an inspiring event. When I signed up last year I imagined it to be the typical Long Island local race, with ~500 runners and the usual low-key staging I'd come to expect from those events.

When we arrived on race day, I was astounded to see the large crowds, a rock band playing and tented grounds that were impressively decorated with a patriotic theme.

Last year there were about 2,000 runners split between the 1 mile, 5K and 10K distances. The 5 & 10K races started together and we split our routes after a mile or so. There were many servicemen and women running in their fatigues. One group of Marines opted for matching tees and shorts and others wore dress uniforms and carried their flags as they ran.

The most impressive runners were those soldiers who carried full packs and ran in combat boots. I'm guessing this was to show solidarity with their brethren overseas who were on active duty. One soldier clearly demonstrated that point by running with a full sized dummy dressed in combat fatigues.

Overall, the race was great, but two things I hope they do differently this year is expand the area for parking and provide more than five Port-O-Potti's for a crowd that numbers in the thousands.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Core values preparing for Sunday's 10K

Today's workout (hand weights and core): 20 minutes

I wasn't ready to fully rest this morning so I did a light upper body workout with weights and then completed a cycle of the "Lolo Jones" core exercises. These exercises were featured in an article I'd saved from Runner's World in 2009. It's a fast workout but I usually feel good after I do it. I looked at the Run for the Warriors course this morning and saw that it's a big rectangle with lots of straightaways. I understand that it's a relatively flat course and that will be a relief compared with the hilly terrain of the Cow Harbor race in Northport.

The temperatures should be in the mid to high 50's at 9:30 AM when the race is scheduled to start. I think I have my gear selected: Nike compression pants, Zensah calf sleeves, Brooks Rev-T jersey and my Saucony Kinvaras. Five months ago I would probably have chosen the Grid Tangents or the Brooks GTS 10's but I've really come to appreciate the performance of Kinveras as both a training and race day shoe. According to Dave who has previously run this race (and will be running it again this year), tomorrow's event will be inspiring as it honors veterans from all wars and features many veteran's groups. We are big supporters of those who provide service to the country and are glad to participate in an event that generates so many donations for veterans.

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