Last Sunday at the Lincoln Steeplechase I continued my program of running races below threshold in an effort to prevent running-inspired injuries that seem to crop up every year.
Last year I had run the double: Newton 10k in the morning and Lincoln in the afternoon. That was a long day. I ended up injured not too long thereafter. This year was much more manageable by comparison.
I made a good start, funneled into the first poison-ivy stretch of wood, didn’t trip anybody or get knocked down myself. I crossed the road with the front of the group, watched Eli start to pull away across the field, and passed some slower runners to work my way to the front. I checked my heart rate — 172 bpm — and committed myself to hold it there. Past the pool, wherre families lounged, I wanted to take a swim. Up the hill, my heart rate spiked, I backed off, and let the other runners go clear.
I was saving something for the final hill of the race. I got caught up by another runner and tried to hang with him up the hill. The hill was shorter than I remembered. I thought we were going all the way to the top. Maybe it was different last year. I was having a hard time thinking straight at this point. But I still had to back off to keep my heart rate down.
Once on the pavement, I settled in for the final stretch. I was running by the parents of the skiers who were doing the race. They were telling me to go faster. To catch the guy in front of me. To kick it to the finish. I told them I was good. Still, I picked it up a bit for the final rise to the line.
For me it’s progress to be able to hold back like that, to stay out of the red zone.
Full results here