Posted by: David Stewart | April 13, 2010

How to succeed in racing without actually being fast (Race for the Roses edition)

Want to do well in a race? It’s not that important, really. Plenty of runners and walkers are just fine coming in at the end of the pack, thank you very much. But if you do want a good showing, I have a little secret for you.

Last year I decided to get more serious about trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon. So I hired a coach last May (Mark Kendall, SpeedShot Racing), worked hard and ran a qualifying time last December.

Now that this goal is accomplished, I decided to push on with Mark and try to improve my aerobic capacity and speed. Mark wanted to check out where my fitness is currently by running a 10K race in April, and a 5K race in May.

For the 10K, I signed up for the Race for the Roses. It’s a nice early-season race, most popular for its Half Marathon (13.1 miles). If you are an experienced runner in the local community, you will naturally run the Half.

If you are a beginning runner, you would probably be more comfortable running the 5K race – about 3 miles.

Apparently, this leaves the 10K as the little brother of the other races. Note the lopsided number of finishers for the longer and harder Half:

Half Marathon – 2176
10K – 865
5K – 1066

The 10K race started 20 minutes after the start of the Half, and quickly merged with the flow of Half Marathon racers. Then the 10K course branched off to run on its own course for a while, and finally joined with the 5K racers to the finish line. When we branched off from the Half Marathon racers, I went from running in a dense pack to running nearly alone. Spooky!

The nice thing about running a smaller race is that my finish time was actually pretty respectable – I finished Tenth in the Overall Male Masters and 5th in my age group.

So the secret of doing well in a race? Pick a small one!

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Responses

  1. 856 is not a small race!
    Try the Strawberry Mountain Half in John Day (http://blog.oregonlive.com/runoregon/2009/08/race_preview_strawberry_mounta.html). I ran it in 2008, and came in 2nd overall (out of something like 12 total runners).

  2. Sounds like a winning strategy!


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