The weather is getting cold and wet, chasing me out of the hills and off the trails.  I decided to take a crack at another road race and went over to Orem to run in this traditional Thanksgiving 4-mile race, with 534 runners.

I’m currently training for Across The Years 24-hour race in Arizona on Dec 30.  I hope to cover 110 miles in the 24-hours.  If successful, it would be my 8th 100-mile finish for the calendar year, capping off a satisfying ultramaraton race year.

To train for this next race, I’m backing off the extreme elevation training.  I’ve climbed 421,000 feet this year.  What I need to do now is increase my foot speed on the flats.  Thus, I’m doing more training on flatter dirt roads for the next few weeks.

Running in the Earn your Turkey 4-miler would be a nice test of my foot speed.  I rarely run on roads, but looking at the past year’s times, I thought I could be competitive in my old-fart 50-54 age-group.

As the race started, plenty of youngsters went off sprinting like crazy.  I decided to be careful for the first mile and not burn out my lungs.  I’m just not used to cranking at such speeds.   I quickly noticed a tall strong 50ish runner in front of me, Bill Bedford, of Oregon.   I realized that he would be my competition.   I couldn’t see any other gray-hairs ahead of us.  I decided to carefully hang behind Bill and hope that I could pass him later in the race.  

My first mile was a little slow, 6:22, but I sped up a little and cranked out a 6:15 second mile.   The lungs were working hard and I watched Bill pull ahead, fearing that he had dropped me.   I struggled on mile 3, still not warmed up, but had a 6:59 split, still under seven minutes.  I did notice at the 5K mark that I was faster than my 5K PR.  Very nice.

Finally I started to feel warmed up and pushed the last mile much harder, passing a few runners ahead.   Bill was in view, but I realized I wouldn’t catch him.   I finished mile 4 in 6:11 for a strong finish, about 30 seconds behind Bill   My finish time was 25:48, 46th place overall, and 2nd to Bill in the 50-54 age group.   I was pleased to see that no other old runners beat us, in fact the oldest runner to beat us was 44.   If I was a year younger, I would have won the 45-49 age group.  My pace was under 6:30 miles.   Nice for an old slow guy.

Well, it was a fun morning.   I took home a turkey and a coupon for a pie.

11/29/2008 update

After 15 boring treadmill miles in the morning, (I can’t believe I’m wimping out on a treadmill!). I decided to finish the week off with a 5K tempo run.   I went to Provo and ran in the new little 5K that runs through some neighborhoods in the northwest end of Provo near the Provo River.

The race was somewhat challenging because it had so many turns and ran on varied surfaces, grass, pavement and sidewalks.   There was one challenging hill and lots of turns.   My first mile including the hill came in at 6:44.  My legs felt a little heavy from the 15 miles in the morning. My second mile was the best when I was able to kick it into gear and pass three young runners.   I clocked a 6:05.   Mile 3 was a grind toward the finish, 6:35.   But I have to be pleased because I ran a PR with a 20:05 finish.  Oh, so close to breaking 20 minutes.   I know I can do that now, on a nice flat course.   There were only 17 runners in the race, but I came in 5th place.   The four runners who beat me were all more than half my age, a bunch of fast kids.

Looks like I’m on target to finish off the year with 3,000 miles.   I just need 250 more miles to reach that — my highest milage year ever.