By Coach KK The 2009 Oatmeal Run in Lafayette, Colorado was the first 'test' of my rehabbing hamstring injury. It was a random race that was more of a test run than anything. The plan was solid, run zone 2 or 3 on the way out, and bring it home hard on the way back. It was a cold morning, waking up and having a cup of McDonald's coffee on the way to the race. I had not slept much, nor done anything above a 7 minute per mile pace since July or August of 2008. There were the 3 months spent just walking due to too much pain of running, with no swimming or biking directly after August. Base training was only at 6 or 7 weeks prior to this race, with merely 20 miles of running per week if I was lucky. Some weeks were more around 15 just to play it safe. I was dressed in all black, and a fellow triathlete I know--Nick Cady (former collegiate national triathlon champ & pro), said I looked like Darth Vader all dressed in black. This was a little prevention on my part to keep all parts warm especially my hammy. Hat, gloves, tights, long thermal top--the works. Many were in shorts and tank tops or at least a tshirt style top.
I placed myself about the 3rd row of runners just to stay out of the fast folk's way. I quickly settled into a fairly easy pace the first half mile or so, right behind a gal with some of the nicest calves I've seen in a while. Michele Suzek was in the Olympic Trials and just recently won the OA female at a marathon in 2:43--the ING Miami Marathon. Around a half mile she picked up the pace and I thought, "Crap, she's HAULING now." Male pride or ego--not sure which, kept me going to stay with her. It wasn't neck breaking until we hit the turn around. My plan was to take it up to zone 4 or top of zone 3 at the minimum all the way back. I passed this gal (Michele Suzek), thinking it was time to drop the pace down some more. She beat me to the punch and floored it, and flew downhill as I struggled to keep up with her. It was starting to hurt going up the last hill, and I can say I felt my knees buckle a bit on the hill from the lack of training miles. Less than a half mile, I put in whatever little kick I had, and gapped her by 12 seconds. I was beaten to the line by one or two seconds by a 53 year old Doug Bell who apparently is a "master" Grand Master runner.
Here is the kicker, the gal I ran with nearly the entire race, Michele Suzek--has an interesting story. My dad the other day, called to tell me a gal that grew up in my hometown back in Michigan (Alpena), just won a marathon of 15,000 people as mentioned above. Dad said to look her up on the web. I did. I found out she went to the Olympic Marathon Trials last year, went to the same college I did for 2 years (a few years later than me of course!), and on top of that, was a pro body builder, and lives only about 20 minutes from Boulder where I do. All from growing up in a small community of about 13,000 people in a tiny northern Michigan town. What a SMALL WORLD. I was sitting on the sofa this evening, wondering if she was in many local races. Then it dawned on me that here was a young gal I ran with with unusually large, muscular legs I ran with at the Oatmeal 5k--and on a whim looked up the results. I was floored to see that the gal I had run with way out here in Colorado, nearly a few thousand miles from my hometown--was a woman that grew up at the same time in the same place, went to the same University, and lives in the same location as I, ran nearly 3.1 miles together while not knowing who each other was. Now THAT is a story that is just wild...one so bizarre that it is worth putting in this race report.
In summary of the race, it was nice to know that zone 3 the first half of the race, and zone 4 the last half on minimal training and no speedwork resulted in a sub 18 minute 5k. My goal was (honestly) to get as close to 20 minutes as I could. Since my fastest run prior had been just under 21 minutes for a 3 mile run, I was stoked to see 17:59 coming across the line. Sure it left me gasping for air at the end, but it still felt good--it was a good burn not a miserable burn.