Friday, August 9, 2013

Rock to Pier Race Report: I Won!

OK, there were only four people in the race. I still won, though.

Distance: 6.07 miles
Time: 47:32
Pace 7:49
Place: 1/4

There was an actual Rock to Pier race two days before. If I'd have run that--the conditions were similar and the course was exactly the same. I may have had a bit stronger of a head wind when I ran, but we'll give the racers the benefit of the doubt.

Hypothetical Place: 157/1052
Hypothetical Age Group Place: 6/32

The Competition

It was the 7th time I've run this race, the 5th as part of a family reunion event and the first time I won. By the way, I set a pr by 2:27. Because I run this race every year, I use it as a fitness gauge. Needless to say, I'm pleased with my improvements.

The other contestants were my brother-in-law Parry, who beat me three years ago. He finished last this year, about 10 minutes back. Then there was Leslie and Tim. I'm not sure how I'm related to them, or more accurately, I'm not sure how my wife is related to Leslie since it's their family's reunion.

I figured I would win this year. There were no returning champions and Tim and Leslie had never run six miles before, although Tim, a very fit, athletic and handsome man in his twenties, had run a mile in around five minutes, so I knew I'd have to have a substantial lead by the last mile.

I'm going to treat the rest of this blog post as if someone cared about who won. It will be pretentious. I may indulge in self-importance. I may not.

The Race

When the race began, I kind of forgot it was a race, probably because there were only four of us, the starting line was a line in the sand that I scratched out with my foot, and there were only four of us. After about 20 seconds I remembered I wanted to run fast and that I wanted to win the race, so I sped up.

I was immediately concerned because I was breathing fast but it didn't seem like I was going fast, so I took a peek at my watch and saw I was going at about a 7:20 clip. For me, that's fast. Too fast. That was the first and last time I looked at the speed section of my GPS. I finished the first mile in 7:32. Tim and I were running together.

I  slowed down to a comfortable, fast pace, figuring my superior aerobic capacity would, in the long run, trump his superior speed (not to mention his physique, overall fitness, and good looks).

At the end of mile 2, I approached the section of rocks, a section that slowed me down last year because the tide was in and I had to run over a rocky section. This year I was in luck. Tide was out and I could continue to run at a comfortable, fast pace. I ran mile 2 in 7:52. There was about 15 feet of separation at this point.

There have been many a Rock to Pier family reunion run when the person I needed to beat was 10-15 feet ahead, so I knew exactly what my opponent was thinking. It's something like, "I'll just hang as close as I can and maybe he'll slow down and I'll pass him farther up." I also know that that's a lot easier to think than it is to do. I also knew I wasn't going to slow down. I also knew I was going to win.

I clocked miles 3 and 4 at 7:51 and 7:52. The lead was getting bigger but Tim was still too close for me to relax too much, but I was starting to tire and slowed down just enough to make sure I had something for the last mile. I knocked out mile 5 in 8:00. I almost felt bad for not accepting water from my kind of aunt and uncle, who had kindly came out to cheer us on and give us water, but there was no way I was going to waste time drinking water on a 6-mile run when it was below 60 degrees.

With a mile left, it was apparent I wasn't going to be caught, but I took no chances. If he was going to beat me, he was going to have to turn in a 5-minute mile. And if he turned in a 5-minute mile, I would have accepted my defeat with grace. I ran mile 6 in 7:51 and the last .07 at about the same pace. I came across the line about 1:20 ahead of the next finisher.



  1. Gotta love the mile splits: 7:32, 7:52, 7:51, 7:52, 8:00, 7:51. It's amazing how much easier it is to pace on a flat course. The first mile was a little fast and I purposely slowed on mile 5 to make sure I had something left, just in case. Four miles at pretty much the same pace is mathematically pleasing.
  2. I was happy to hear, via my mother-in-law, via Facebook that the second place competitor was taking the race seriously.
  3. I can run faster than this. Although beach temperatures are ideal and the flat course is nice, it's a little tougher running in sand than it is on pavement. That's probably why my calves were mooing the next day.

Will I Ever Qualify for Boston?

Probably not. But I'll keep trying.

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