Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thrown to the Lions

June 18th will kick off the season for me in Los Gatos, CA.  They run an All Comers Meet every week from the 18th up through August 6th.  I certainly won't be racing there every week, but I hope to get a good 4-6 races in over that span.  They have three age groups for each event - HS, Open, and Masters.  

Coach and I were looking for a race a few weeks prior to June 18th just to get a time and for me to get my feet wet running this distance (as I have never actually raced an 800m before)  What I found was an Open Meet (Pacific Association T&F Championships) this Sunday, May 24th.  It's not a Masters meet, but I looked at the entry list the past two years and saw that although last year's top seed time was 1:53, there were several guys in the 2:05 - 2:12 range and a few guys in the low 2:20s.  Back in '07 the top guy was 1:50, but again there were several 2:05 - 2:12 guys and the last guy was 2:15.  I felt comfortable that I'd have some guys to race with, so we targeted the race this weekend for my "pre-season" debut.

Well, looking at the entry list for this year there are only 7 guys signed up so far and only one other guy is SLOWER than 1:53.  Here are the top 4 seeds:

1.  1:46.0
2.  1:46.5
3.  1:48.8
4.  1:48.9

Essentially this is turning into the US Olympic Trials . . . . and me.  

Needless to say w/o me ever having raced this distance before, I'm going to be very nervous anyway, but to run this race for the very first time w/ guys like this - let's just say this is not the experience I was looking for.  Is it possible to get lapped in a 2 lap race?

I'll update the entry list if/when more guys enter (although tomorrow is the last day to enter unless you want to pay double on the day of the race)  Who knows, maybe Wilson Kipketer will come out of retirement and throw a 1:42 up there!  I'd like to have an up close view of this race, but it's sad to say that even though I'm going to be in the race I will be further away from the finish than 90% of the spectators!

On to today's workout - a bit of a race prep.  The plan:

3 x 200m:  31-30-29 (60-sec rests)
7-min break
500m:  Simulation of first 400m of 800m race w/ 100m kick.  
Target splits:  29.5 - 30 @ 200, 61 @ 400.

The 200s went:  32.0, 30.4, 29.1 - On target except for rep #1.  (all done in lane-1)

I didn't run the proper splits in the 500m so it didn't quite go as planned.  Also, I was going to set the watch to take splits at 200m and 400m, but 100m into the run I realized I forgot to set it up so I'd have to look down at each split myself - which is a pain when you're trying to concentrate on the task at hand.

200m split:  about 28-flat (too fast)
400m split:  about 58.8 (meaning the 2nd 200m was about on pace)

However, the total time of sub-59 scared the hell out of me.  When I saw that time I figured I was done for - this caused me to inadvertently slow down for the next 30-40m.  At that point I re-focused and surprised myself a bit when I was able to pick up the pace again and go faster.  Unfortunately, the damage was done during the slow 40m and the last 100m came in about 16.7 (that's just too slow) giving me a total time of 75.6

I'm not sure how this translates to an 800m race, but I guess I'll find out in a few days.  Tough to imagine running 300m more today w/ how I was feeling after 500m, but #1 I went out a little too fast, #2 no race day adrenaline, and #3 I obviously won't be running 3 x 200m before the race.  

I really hope I have at least 1 or 2 guys in my pace range to race with on Sunday.  I can't say as I'm looking forward to still being on the far turn when the rest of the guys are finished and congratulating each other - that's just plain ugly.  


Mon, 5/18:  AM:  4-miles @ 6:46 pace, then 50-minutes on elliptical
PM:  CMT appt - focus on calf

Tues, 5/19:  30-minutes @ 6:44 pace (probably a bit too fast w/ a workout the next day)

Wed, 5/20:  Race Prep:  3 x 200m (32-30-29), 500m (75.6)



Mike I have a very good friend who has been a masters world champion in the past, he tells me the start list can be scary but remember on the day anything can happen!
Just go in there and do your best!
Enjoy the moment and who knows what the outcome might be!

Ewen said...

Wow - this is exciting. I hope they get some entries in the 1:55 to 2:10 range, otherwise you're going to be in big danger of taking it out too fast. You could be 20m off those 1:48 guys at 200 and still going too fast!

If you can hold the last 200 together I'd take a guess by that session that 2:03-2:05 might be your time. Anyway, have fun. Try and get someone to time your 200 splits - that's always interesting.

BTW, I can't believe it's your first 800!

Mike said...

Thanks guys. I'm definitely going to be in danger of taking it out too fast here. I usually do that anyway - by myself in workouts.

With those guys in front of me, I don't know how I control the pace - coach said being in a race w/ guys like that, I might take the first 200 out in 28 and it will feel really easy (of course that would certainly catch up w/ me in the end)

Ewen - my coach estimates that I'm in shape to run a time in that range, but being my first 800m race ever, I'd probably have to get really lucky to pace myself properly to hit my best case time - and as we stated already - that's going to be hard to do in this particular race.

Things to watch out for me are #1 going out too fast, but also #2 subconsciously racing in fear of how bad the last 200m is going to feel and slowing down too much on the 3rd 200 to compensate. I'm actually more concerned w/ #2 than #1. If I go out too fast, I go out too fast. But once you start slowing down, you lose time so quickly and it's impossible to really ramp it back up again w/ that much fatigue.

The 3rd 200m is really the key - I have to have the guts to run it as hard as I can - even if the first lap is too fast. But as I said, I'm going to realize that last 200m is going to be death and even if I tell myself to be tough - if I run scared after the first lap the 3rd 200 will doom the race. From what I understand, the 2nd lap is all about slowing down as little as possible - which usually requires 2x the effort of the first lap.

I'm sure some 800m racing experience would help tremendously here, but you have to have a first race before you can have experience, I guess.

I just wish I already had a few races under my belt before I tried to tackle an event like this. But as Rick says - I need to just go out and enjoy it and do the best I can. There are a couple of notable guys in the field - I'll talk about them in the next post.

bricey said...

Best of run Mike. I'm sure you'll enjoy the experience. You've certainly thought the strategy through well enough. Now all you have to do is implement it. For what it's worth I used always find the last 100m of a 400m alot tougher than the last 200m of an 800m!!

Looking forward to hearing about it...