Race report: Penn Relays Distance Classic 20K

19 04 2010

My goal for the Penn Relays Distance Classic 20K was to race on tired legs, in order to simulate the feel at the end of the marathon. To accomplish this goal, I ran a hard progression 10-mile run the afternoon before, plus 4 miles immediately pre-race (making 27 miles in 18 hours including cool-down). Despite the importance of the Penn Relays, this race was actually quite small – no chip timing, signs at registration posted with duct tape, times recorded officially from the timer clock by hand (with a few timer clocks on the race), rip the identifier off your bib to determine order of finish. It was quite a refreshing change of pace from the large NYRR races. The warmups and start in historic Franklin Field were particularly inspiring.

It was a beautiful morning for a race – cool and clear. The course started on the street in front of Franklin Field. Because it was a small race, I was nearly toeing the line at the start (maybe in the third row of people). Awesome! Alas, perhaps too awesome. It was not only a small race, but a small race with very fast runners. I started out way way too fast, and kept seeing 7:00, 7:21, 7:24 simultaneous paces when checking the Garmin during mile 1. I felt good, but knew it wasn’t sustainable, yet I had problems appropriately slowing down because I felt comfortable and because of the fast company.

Distance markings were sparse (and some were questionable), but the recorded splits were interesting. The first mile marker was actually at 1.1 miles, with Garmin recording a 7:50 pace over the first 1.1 miles. Whoa. My 3-mile split was 23:57 (7:59 pace over the first 3 miles)! Way too fast! Continuing my splits, 4th mile 8:09 (32:06), 5th mile 8:09 (40:15), 6th mile 8:39 (48:54), 7th mile 8:09 (!) (57:03), 8th mile 8:24 (1:05:27), 9th mile 8:38 (1:14:05), miles 10-12 8:30 average (25:29 timed, not official 12th mile, no mile markers seen), 1:39:34), stub 4:00 (0.49 miles, 8:05 pace). 10K splits 50:32, 53:02. I was definitely putting in significant effort from mile 8 onwards, in contrast to the easy feel over the first 7, but I was very happy to maintain a sub-8:40 pace throughout, especially after going out way way too fast. It was particularly cool finishing the race with 3/4 lap on the track at Franklin Field.

Overall time 1:43:34 (8:19 pace), a new PR! OK, I had never officially run the distance, but still a PR even if by default! I did beat my official 20K timing in the NYCM (1:46:09), so I am going to call this race a 20K PR by 2:35. Awesome!

I’m very happy with the overall effort, particularly given the anti-taper for the race. A very encouraging run for 4 weeks from today. Though it would be really nice before then to learn not to run out too fast at the beginning of a long race.

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