Last week our half marathon in Myrtle Beach was snowed out, and fortunately for us, so were all the rest of the races in the Carolinas, and many of those races were rescheduled for this week. There were some good races in the Charlotte area that we hated to miss, but there were a couple in Asheville that were part of the Asheville Track Club Grand Prix series. I’m trying to run at least ten of the ATC GP races this year so we headed for the mountains. As you might expect, the weather was a little cooler up in Asheville than Charlotte, but it was still in the mid to upper 50s and both races were in the afternoon during the warmest part of the day. As we approached Asheville everything was still white with the snow that has been falling for the past month in the North Carolina mountains, but by Sunday afternoon the unseasonably mild temperatures had erased most of the evidence that it was still winter.
It was our first time running the Black Mountain Valentine 5k. In an area with so many hills to contend with, this was one of the less hilly races in the area. There was one steep climb in the first mile that took most of the wind out of my sails but after that it was nothing much more than some mildly rolling hills.
I’m still experimenting with heart rate monitoring and in my two most recent races (a 5k and a 10k) I’ve managed to reach a heart rate of about 166 (about 95% of my maximum heart rate of 176) and hold it for the entire race. For some reason in this race I started out with that same goal in mind since it worked great in the two previous races. I was more than a little surprised to see that in my first mile with a heart rate of about 155 I was huffing and puffing and I felt like I was over 170 beats per minute. This was before I hit the steep hill. I’m not sure if it was just a bad day or my training hasn’t been what it should be, or even the outside possibility that it had something to do with what I had eaten before the race and what I was wearing.
Before early morning races I ordinarily eat either a bowl of oatmeal or raisin bran before leaving home, then on the way to the race most of the time I get an Egg McMuffin from McDonald’s. I know that’s not standard racing food but I like it and it always seems to be something that works for me. With this race starting at 2:00 in the afternoon, we ate lunch on the way to Asheville, stopping at McDonald’s again, but this time lunch (about an hour before the race) consisted of a regular hamburger, small fries, an apple pie, an ice cream cone, and a small drink. This also wouldn’t be considered great pre-race food and I’m pretty sure I won’t try it again before a race.
In addition to my less-than-perfect pre-race meal I also, as is my custom, managed to overdress yet again for a race. I did wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, but I somehow managed to rationalize the idea that it would be good to wear a long-sleeved Under Armour Heat Gear shirt under the regular short-sleeved shirt. About a hundred yards into the race I was overheated and mentally kicking myself.
So it’s very possible that the food and clothing had somewhat of an effect on my race performance. You live and learn, as they say, but Linda usually tells me that I just live.
At just past the 2-mile mark in the race I picked a spot where I hoped nobody was looking (didn’t want to blind anybody). I stopped running, slowing down to a walk, and I peeled off both shirts then put the short-sleeved shirt back on. I wanted to toss the Under Armour shirt but figured there will be plenty of cold days ahead so I held onto it until the end of the race. With a little bit of breathing room my last mile was my fastest, with a pace about 30 seconds faster than both the 1st and 2nd miles. As fate would have it, while I was changing shirts I was passed by somebody else in my age group, who finished 18 seconds ahead of me, but for all my problems I was still happy (and fortunate) to finish second in the age group with a time of 21:28.
T-shirts were great (black long-sleeved high quality tech material with a nice design), food was adequate but not great, and awards were drinking glasses.