Monday, March 28, 2011

1 percent at 100 percent

This past weekend I ran 1% at 100%.  How?!  I was 1% of the Charlotte Running Club's (CRC) World Record 100 x 5k relay and I ran as hard as I could for my 12.5 laps.

Visit my background story to see what it meant for me to be a part of this relay.

My 'adult PR' before the sign-up for this run was 19:40 and run on a perfectly flat course at Lowe's Motor Speedway a year earlier in March.  And while training for an ultra in the fall, I logged a 20:54 on a hilly local 5k course.  When it came time to register to see if I could be chosen for this relay, I had to guess that 19:59 would be my best given the circumstances (running solo, on a track, in any weather, on very few base miles in training).  I was barely selected and had a few months to prepare to run my best and shoot for a PR.  As one of the slowest times accepted onto the relay, I knew I had to train and not just barely break 20 minutes, but do some damage to my PR and run a great race.

Not feeling fully prepared, I ran a couple 'tune up' races (Cupid's Cup & YoungLife 5k at the Speedway) and clocked 19:06 at both.  A big improvement, but I heard the Cupid's Cup course may have been short (and the final 1.5mi was downhill) and the YoungLife 5k was on a flat track with other runners around in ideal conditions.  I adjusted some of my racing goals, let Ben Hovis (CRC Competition Director) know he could lower my estimate from 19:59 (he picked 19:15), and eventually I decided to shoot for 6 minute 1600 pace (~18:45 5k) and see if I could hang on for the full distance.

I arrived at the track well before my estimated start time around 1:40am and made a feeble attempt to 'warm up' in a cold relentless rain that had plagued our relay almost from the start.  Just before hopping on the track, I let Paul Mainwaring know that I was hoping to hit 90 second laps, but that it would be an aggressive goal.  I was fine with slipping to as much as 12:08 at the 3200 mark which would still give me a shot at breaking 19 minutes.

I grabbed the baton and was off... 80 seconds... DOH!  I finally settled into my pace, and I hate to admit that the remaining 11.5 laps were a bit of a blur.  It was still cold, but the rain had let up, and I was moving pretty well. Days before the relay when I saw the impending bad weather, I said numerous prayers that God look after our little relay, and if rain needed to fall, that it all could fall on me during my leg of the run.  Better 1 runner than all 100 right?  Well God has his ways, and that included giving me a mostly rain free ring around the rosie.

There weren't many people there at 2am, but those that were there (maybe 10 total?) provided much needed support as I looped past again and again and again.  Going into this, I wanted to run this race for my 16 month old son (Alekzander)... for my wife (Ashley)... and for those who don't have the ability to walk, let alone run a 5k.  Thinking back, I feel a little selfish as the only thing constantly running through my mind was a childhood me.  I was on the track running this 5k, but it was me as a little kid.  I could see my little smiling face as he/I looped around the track lap after joyful lap.  I heard Paul calling splits, but the numbers didn't mean much and barely made sense.  I was wearing my Garmin GPS watch, but I don't know that I even looked down at the pace.  The only time I was brought back was hearing people cheer as I passed by and hearing Paul tell me I was on pace after he would call out the unrecognizable numbers that were supposed to be my splits.

I snapped out of it as the baton left my hand to the next runner and tried my best to hide my joy that had overwhelmed me.  I had to silence the little tow-headed kid within to keep from being embarrassed, among such seasoned runners, about how happy I was to have participated in the relay.  For me, I made it more about my new 'adult PR' of 18:49 and started doing calculations on splits, pace (6:03/mi), and the overall group's estimated finish time.  I made it about these adult things that young Andrew wouldn't have cared about... mainly to silence him for a bit.  Writing these blogs has brought it back out, and I have to apologize for stifling the kid that carried me for 12.5 laps.  I couldn't have done it without him.

CRC 100 x 5k Relay Results - 30:56:49 (avg mile 5:55, avg 5k - 18:23)
Previous 100 x 5k World Record - 37:12:53

Leg #65 (me) - 18:49 (avg mile 6:03) - PR by 17 seconds and 1:10 faster than initial projected time!

Lap1   - 80.4
Lap2   - 88.1    800 - 2:48.5
Lap3   - 91.3
Lap4   - 91.9    800 - 3:03.2     1600 - 5:51.7
Lap5   - 92.3
Lap6   - 93       800 - 3:05.3
Lap7   - 93.4
Lap8   - 93.6    800 - 3:07        1600 - 6:12.3     3200 - 12:04
Lap9   - 92.5
Lap10 - 91.6    800 - 3:04.1
Lap11 - 90.8
Lap12 - 89.5    800 - 3:00.3    1600 - 6:04.4
1/2Lap- 41   (final 400 - 85.7, final 800 - 2:55.2, final 1600 - 5:59.3)

As you can see from the splits, I definitely think I left something out there if I was able to dig deep enough to increase my speed that much at the end... or maybe I just drifted off into my childhood a bit too much in the middle portion.  Either way, I'm very happy with my individual result and of course couldn't be happier about the overall result from the other 99% of the relay!

Charlotte Observer after breaking record

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