Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Dreaming Big: the 2019 Blessing of the Fleet (Race Review)

“Come, Ahab’s compliments to ye; come and see if ye can swerve me. Swerve me? ye cannot swerve me, else ye swerve yourselves! man has ye there. Swerve me? The path to my fixed purpose is laid with iron rails, whereon my soul is grooved to run. Over unsounded gorges, through the rifled hearts of mountains, under torrents’ beds, unerringly I rush! Naught’s an obstacle, naught’s an angle to the iron way!” 
-- Herman Melville, Moby-Dick


Previous times at the Blessing of the Fleet:

2013: 1:16:30, 7:39/mile
2014: 1:17:30, 7:45/mile
2015:1:17:27, 7:44/mile
2016: 1:23:06, 8:18/mile
2017:1:23:03, 8:18/mile
2018: 1:27:50 8:38/mile (from Strava)


Had a rough couple of weeks leading up to the Blessing of the Fleet. I've run the race six times before and I had honestly wanted to set a new PR for the distance, but I will admit that due to a heat wave and several social obligations my nutrition wasn't on point, and I didn't feel like my training was going to do much for me. I opted for a four mile warm-up at home (typically I warm up with anywhere from 3-5 miles.)

My wife decided that she wanted to attend the race, and bring the kiddos, so we left the house a bit earlier than usual. I picked up my packet, and then we found parking near the finish (which was made a bit more complicated than it needed to be by some of the race volunteers.) We walked the mile back to the race start and spent some time playing with the kids while I got ready to run.

About fifteen minutes before go-time I got in line, pushing myself further up in the chute than I usually go. There's not any real sort of pace seeding in the Blessing corral, so you just do the best you can. In the past this means that I set myself too far back and end up fighting my way around much slower runners. There was still some of that this year but not nearly as bad.

The race course is just lined with people in the early (and late) miles, which is really fun, but I had a specific time in mind so I was working really hard. Leap frogging with some folks but mostly passing folks, I was in the 7's on my watch and pretty happy with the pacing in the first few miles. It was hot in the sun, but there was lower humidity and the breeze we'd occasionally get was nice. Additionally there are always tons of water tables at blessing, and this year I actually took a bag of ice from one of the nice folks along the route to keep me working.

I had to redirect my focus several times -- which I know sounds stupid, but I spend a lot of time running engaging in internal dialogue and it can be costly as it's too much internal chatter. Just narrowing the focus and getting it done has really helped pull me through the last few races I've had.

I came through the finish in 1:14:51 (gun time) 1:13:58 (chip time!) and was overjoyed to see the result. Spent the remainder of the evening playing at the carnival, sitting in traffic home, and then eating Chinese food after the kids had gone to bed. I took it easy Saturday, but got up on Sunday and ran 16 miles of trails in the Big River Management Area. I had no idea I'd be able to do that on dead post-race legs, but I was even more proud of it because of that condition.

I'm in training for my first 50k race, which will be in September at Mt. Pisgah 50. I'm following a training plan -- but I'm allowing myself a little flexibility because I'm also working on a run streak, and I have a marathon in October that I'm getting ready for at the same time. Right now my goal is to do most of my long runs on the trails, but my shorter runs are on the roads. I may shift that ratio a bit in August to see what I can get out of it, but I won't really know how it has done until I've run a few ultras to see what works best.