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Race Results: How I turned the Black Cat 20 miler into a Tempo Run

March 11, 2011
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In the weeks leading up to the race, I was struggling with calf pain. This is something I’ve never had before. Then, I had shin splints. Really very odd. I got myself some Zensah leg sleeves (Just go and get them. Go.) and it seemed to improve. However, one 17 mile run had me limping. Went back to my local running store, and the verdict of the shoe-mongers was: my shoe (which they fitted me for) was too supportive. (Side effects of an over supportive shoe: heel striking because the shoe is too heavy. This leads to shin splints and calf pain.)

It was all very Goldilocks, to be honest. I went shoe jumping for a couple weeks (you want to avoid this at all costs), before one of the fitters placed me into the Brooks Defyance. A neutral shoe, for a much more neutral running moi. Hmm, seemed good. I ran 10 miles in them and left without a touch of pain, anywhere. Then, I finished up my small taper week, and off to the races I went.

We got to Black Cat with about 5 minutes to spare. I was grateful it was a small race, because we easily found parking and then I just quickly fiddled with my Garmin before the race horn sounded.

The course follows some of the loop that the Salem Wicked Half runs through. Since I’ve raced that before, I was a little familiar with it. This was a 4.5 mile run out, with 5.5 miles back. Those in the 20 miler group got to run it twice. There was one long, slow but steep hill, without relief on the other side. Otherwise, it was relatively flat and rolling.

The race results showed a fast group of runners. It was advertised as a good training course for Boston, for a last race. Lots of people came in their Boston 2010 shirts. (Mine’s from 2008, but I wore my Falmouth 2010 shirt.)

I wanted to make sure I can race at Boston qualifying speed. I wanted to run this and see where I am in a race, and how I did. I know what my training runs look like, but a race is different.

I started out conservative, with an 8:36. I thought I’d start there and see how I was feeling. Now, I know this is on the tail end of my max of 8:39, but that was my plan. I ended up increasing my speed until I started seeing 8:05 on my Garmin. I was happy to see that, espescially since I ran the entire race without stopping, and it was already mile 14.

The only thing that caused a slow down for me was a full on blister war. This? Also never happened before. I knew it’d be bad, and I wasn’t wrong. I was pretty determined, anyway. I kept all my miles under 8:39, but I had to slow down a bit. I was dodging puddles, mud and dealing with a seriously gusty headwind from miles 17-20.

I finished with an 8:31 average and my pride. I’m turning my attention away from Boston and on to the Gansett Marathon. Only way in is qualifying. I think I can do it. I  probably just need new shoes.

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