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Sunday, November 27, 2011

The secret to running an amazing race: show up late

I don't usually stray far from the Sciences and into my personal life on this blog, because I wouldn't want anyone to get the impression that I have a life or actually do stuff. But not today. Today I wanna talk about one of my favorite things: running.

On Thanksgiving I ran the Detroit Turkey Trot 10k race with some friends (couldn't make it home to be with my awesome family this year, unfortunately). It was a cold and foggy morning, perfect for a race starting at 7:45 am. Knowing that over 20 thousand people would be in downtown Detroit just for the races (there was also a 5k and 1-miler), we peaced out of Ann Arbor at 6:00 to make sure we'd get to the starting line on time. But in a combined assault of incompetence, the City of Detroit and The Parade Co. made sure this would be impossible. After crawling from I-94 into downtown, we got the car parked with about 10 minutes to drain everyone's bladder (it's important to be properly hydrated for physical activity) and join the 7500 other runners doing the 10k. Race organizers had the foresight to make sure there were a whopping 10 Porta Potties near the starting line, perfectly adequate to serve the 20,000+ runners and onlookers; it was a long line.

My race bib, next to my sexy dinosaur poster and classy Kokoschka tiger-cat.
So much product placement.
So, we finally got to the starting line about 15 minutes after the race began. FORTUNATELY science and technology were on our side, and some benevolent genius thought to invent chips that go in one's race bib (right) so that one's official time does not begin until one crosses the start line.

Being young and brash, we were hoping to start with the faster "comet" or "Wave 1" group, which started earlier than the other waves. Having to start the race some 15 minutes later than scheduled, you'd think we'd've been off to a bad start - FALSE! Because our wave got a head start on us, we ended up running alongside the slower waves, meaning that we spent literally the entire race passing people. Unlike every other race I've done (where I started on time), no one passed me for all 6.2 miles, which was a real morale booster. This ended up being my fastest 10k (and really the fastest of the brief history of all my races)

Nothing makes you run faster than feeling like you're a fast runner. So if you want to have an amazing race (not the show), start late.

4 comments:

Eric said...

It's really funny that you write about this, because this is what I did in almost every race I did in the last four years. I can confirm that this works almost every time, when you run distances around 10km. I can tell you that this is especially funny, if you don't look like you're as fast* as you are.

However at longer distances this practise can get a little bit risky, because you're running the risk of overextending yourself if things aren't working as good as you expect. I made that experience a few weeks ago during a half marathon. I was way too fast at the beginning (after one half I was around 7 minutes faster then my personal record) and got hammered in the second half.

P.S.: What was your time at finish?


*Well, I'm not really "fast", I just didn't look like was able to run longer distances at all. Well at least before I lost a huge amount of weight this summer.

Zachary Cofran said...

Yeah, I found it hard not to get caught up in the moment. I could definitely tell that after about halfway I really started to slow down a lot. I wish I could've seen my times at each mile, because I averaged 6:44 min/mi overall, meaning I definitely went faster for a while, but a lot slower at the end. But you're right - I'm not really especially fast, but it probably looked like it.

I ended up finishing in 41:54, which is about 3 min. faster than a 10k I did in October, and about a minute faster than a 10k I did last year. It's not a super stellar time (winners finished in a little over 31 min), but it's still pretty good, at least in my eyes.

Eric said...

Just to put your results into perspective:

My personal record for 10km stands at exact one hour and during my Half-marathon in October I averaged 6:45min per kilometer so you're definately way faster then I will ever be.

You're probably about as fast as my brother and he aims to finish a Marathon in under three hours next april.

Zachary Cofran said...

I've never done a marathon, but would imagine I could not do it under 3. You'll get faster, just keep practicing!