Friday, December 12, 2014

November Race Report

Towards the end of October things really started to come together for my running and I have been able to carry it through in November. I am not sure what has led to this breakthrough because there are many candidates. I am at sea level, wearing lighter shoes, sans beer (not by choice, mind you) and using a standing desktop in the room. . . who knows.

Start of the Marine Corps Birthday 5k. Photo courtesy of MWR.

Sandwiching some distance between two 5k’s

The 5k races on my camp are at fairly random intervals depending on what events the Morale, Welfare and Recreation People decide to highlight. On the 7th of November we had the 3rd Army Birthday 5k and on the 10th I ran the Marine Corps Birthday 5k. A friend who was training up for a 24-hour race that we’re doing over New Year’s was doing a long run on evening of the 8th and I told him I would join him for support.

Start of the 3rd Army Birthday 5k. Photo courtesy of MWR.
The Army Birthday 5k went pretty well. The one other soldier who usually beats me without breaking a sweat was not there and, after a passing a few soldiers who went out too fast, I had the course to myself. My first and last kilometer splits were within five seconds of each other so I was happy with how the pacing went for this one.

Feeling good at the 1k. Photo courtesy of MWR.

Finishing the 3rd Army Birthday 5k. Photo courtesy of MWR.
As expected, my legs were a little tired for the Marine Corps Birthday 5k. My pace per mile suffered by about 13 seconds. Not all of this was due to fatigue though. This course was in a different part of the camp that featured all dirt roads. The elevation gain was about the same, but the inclines in this course are also closer to the end which, in my mind, makes it a bit harder.

Finishing the Marine Corps Birthday 5k. Photo courtesy of MWR.

America Recycles Day 5k

Start of the America Recycles 5k. Mr. Kibbet in the Nike shirt crushed us all. Photo courtesy of MWR.
Apparently there is an actual day for America recycling. The MWR here got into the spirit by giving out leftover shirts from previous races to finishers. Back on pavement and with a bit of time to recover I managed to just crack the 16:50 mark to set a deployment PR.

Run Q8: Heading to the Big City

Last month an email went out offering spots to a race in downtown Kuwait. I immediately walked over to our host nation office (which does these sorts of liaison events) and put down my 10 KD. When the big day finally arrived about 20 of us caravanned into downtown Kuwait. Since it was the weekend the driving felt less death defying than usual. There was the usual crowds of people miling about the start and group stretches. The crowd looked to be tilted slightly towards the expat community.

Area Support Group-Kuwait crew

The course started at the Marina Park and was a simple out-and-back along the gulf road. Unfortunately, the views of the gulf were generally blocked by buildings. But at least I figured it would be hard to get lost (a challenge I always accept).

The biggest difference I saw at the start was that in US races there is often a hesitation to crowd the start. In this race there was no such hesitation. I suspected from past year’s results that I would be in the top 10, but I could not squeeze my way to the front. Of course, as the Kuwaiti who finished behind me said, “you look a little big to be a fast runner”. True.

Start / Finish Area
The good news was that the field cleared out within the first 400 meters and I was soon in second. Mr. Kibbet, the speedy runner from our base who crushed the 10-mile last month, slowly disappeared from my view. The eventual second place runner passed me at about a kilometer and gradually pulled ahead by a few seconds per kilometer for the rest of the way.

The less good news was that there was a 12 mph headwind on the way out. There was some confusion on the turn-around with both 2nd place and myself running about an extra 100 meters, but no places were lost, so I did not think on it too much. Now the wind that had hounded us on the way out made for a nice negative split on the way home.

From the old pace chart you can see which half I had the wind to my back
I came in a solid 3rd in 35:26. While my GPS watch claimed I ran a PR pace, I think my personal rule will be to go with the official course time and try again another day.  There are many more races to come.

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