Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lakefront Discovery 15k

This past Saturday I joined my wife to compete in the Badgerland Striders Lakefront Discovery 15k.  It was a fun event on a beautiful course.  This was my first 15k race and I thoroughly enjoyed the distance and its pacing challenges.  The event had a good vibe with a lot of runners sporting Halloween costumes and the finish at the Milwaukee Ale house didn’t hurt any.  There was a chill in the air with temperatures in the mid thirties (Fahrenheit) and a 10 mph breeze.  Despite the temperature breathing was easy and dressing in layers made the outdoor experience quite manageable.

Downhill race start out in front.  Photo taken by Bill of Running in the USA.

I have not done a road race since July and as such shaped my workouts since the Urbanathlon to zero in on a reasonable pace.  Recently I also started training with a foot pod and have been obsessing about stride.  This training helped me set my goal to run as efficiently as possible by way of 180 cadence.  It was the only shot I had at finishing in under an hour.  Problem is I am guilty of over striding at a tempo pace.  When over striding I experience the sensation of going faster and certainly am working hard but in the end energy is wasted and finish times are slower.

High cadences feature a good looking stride with the center of mass over the knee.  Thanks to Donna's friend Chris for taking the photo. 

The start of the race featured a prominent downhill.  I lined up in the front and at the word go let gravity take me and focused on quick leg turnover.  When I train hills it is both up and down leaving me extremely comfortable on the downhill.  I was surprised to be winning over a quarter mile in but the situation promptly corrected itself.    Even though the entire first mile was an exercise in restraint it still featured a split better suited for a 5k effort.

Course Elevation plotted against cadence

I was locked into a 180 cadence and content running my own race, at least the first third.  As the top of the field passed me by I observed their footstrike, cadence, and shoes.  I have noticed a lot of elite runners at various races wear Adidas Adizero Aegis and this 15k was no different.  Footstrike was mixed with most exhibiting a heel strike.  Over striding was minimal and the winning male and female had very high turnover.  The only guy who passed me with questionable form faded by the sixth mile where I reclaimed a large lead he had opened and passed him.

498 women and 432 men participated.

The third mile featured a prominent hill.  As strong as I was on the downhill I was weak on the uphill.  I was separated from the group I had been in close proximity to and ran my slowest split of the race.   I struggled to maintain a good cadence up the hill.  I just might need more muscle in my legs to be a better uphill runner.  Coming out of the hill I picked up the pace and changed my focus from running my own race to overtaking those ahead of me.  I was successful but was not working alone as others had the same idea.

Average cadence came out to 89.  I could have done a better job hugging corners.

By miles seven eight and nine I started to struggle with keeping my cadence high.  As I fatigued I would begin over striding.  I kept my watch set to cadence and quickly remedied the problem as it surfaced.  At this point I had run out of anyone to pass and was in a race with a guy dressed as Forest Gump and another gentleman who both had never been far.  After losing Forest I paced off the other runner and have to say we must have been pushing each other.  I never did have a big finishing mile because I was spent.  Plenty of other runners did, I sprinted in spurts the last half mile but was ultimately force fed my pride when I couldn’t keep up with them.  It was a good day.  I made my goal with a finish time of 59:45, good for 20th place.

Finish times in 10 minute increments.  

The Badgerland Striders consistently put on well run quality events of great value.  The events are organized by runners for runners and are well thought out as such.  I must thank all the volunteers for the great job.  It is an organization I hope to become more involved in by way of volunteering over the next year.  This past year my wife and I read splits for the Lakefront marathon in what was a pleasant experience.  I encourage all endurance athletes to volunteer to help with an event.

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