Sunday, April 5, 2009

Race for the Roses 2009: Somebody Please Clone These Race-Day Conditions

The weather was nothing short of perfect -- sunny and clear, little wind, temperatures in the 40s -- for today's Race for the Roses half-marathon, which I completed in a time of 93 minutes and two seconds, for a minute/mile pace of 7:06 or so (official).

I want to commend the race coordinators and volunteers for the excellent work they did putting this race together. Everything was well-done and well-conceived: the course, the location / facilities, the cause, the post-race food, drink, and accommodations -- everything. We couldn't ask for better (with the possible exception of a non-white commemorative shirt).

Today's running lesson learned: it can be the smallest things. Somewhere in mile 8, I became a little too particular about the songs the shuffle feature of my MP3 player was throwing forth, so I keep reaching down to the 'next song' button. This gesture of reaching with my right hand down to my right hip, small as it is, was enough to disrupt my stride. I didn't experience what I would consider pain, but there was a definite twinge of something, and not a good something, in the area of my right hip. Whatever the term for it, the affected body parts no longer felt quite up to the demands of the situation. From that point forward, I focused on hewing to what I take to be Proper Running Form and did my best to maintain the strong pace I had managed to that point. And I resolved to keep my damn hands off the 'next song' button. So, be it resolved:

  • If you're going to use an MP3 player while you run a long race, take the time to pre-load it with songs you'll want to hear, and exclude songs you'll be inclined to skip over.
  • More generally, be very wary of setting yourself up with anything that you'll be inclined to fiddle with while you're running -- water bottles, feed packets, newspapers, kindles, juggling knives, whatever. The fiddling might be fine for a shorter distance, and you might get away with it on a long training run, but on race-day, when you're really running hard, the smallest things can perturb your form, and this can lead to injury. I was lucky I only had another ~5 miles to go.
To repeat the essential point: someone should find a way to reproduce these weather conditions for all running events.

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