Monday, July 1, 2013

Race Review: Overland Park Double Road Race

Overland Park Double Road Race, "The Double"
Me, Billy Mills, and Michael after the second race on Sunday
Mr. Mills was the 1964 10K Olympic Gold Medalist
and still the only American 10K Gold Medalist
(10K immediately followed by 5K)
June 30, 2013
Overland Park, Kansas

Runners: 394
Course: Rolling Hills through Corporate Woods
Business Park
Weather: 62 degrees at start, 70 degrees at finish
70% humidity, 9mph N wind
SWAG: Draw-string race bag & short sleeve tech t-shirt
Race Organization: Good but races started late
Crowd Support: Almost none
Volunteer Support: Small but very food
Water Stops: Adequate
Food: Nothing special, fruit, water, & donuts
Weight: 176
Health: Pretty good overall, left upper hamstring a little tight, but didn't adversely affect finish time
Conditioning: Decent, but not great.  For the last 8 weeks I've only averaged 33 miles/week and the lack of mileage and condition affected me a little
  10K Time:  39:52    6:25/pace   NEW 10K PR 
    5K Time:  19:52    6:25/pace                    
Total Time:   59:45   6:25/pace
         Place:   25th/394 Overall, 2nd/34 40-44 (age 44)

2013 Overland Park Double Road Race Finisher Medal on left, medal for 2nd Place in 40-44 AG on right
Bob Anderson - Kansan, runner, photographer, head of
Ujena Fit Club, founder of Runner's World Magazine,
and founder of The Double Road Race
June 30th.  Kansas City.  It's supposed to be hot, sticky, and miserable for a short distance speed race.  But it was AMAZING!!!  Well, at least the weather anyway.  About 62 degrees with relatively low humidity.  The races that we ran however ... were really tough.  On Sunday Michael and I ran the 2013 Overland Park Double Road Race, a 10K immediately followed by a 5K, with a combination of your total time determining winners.   "The Double" was the creation of Bob Anderson - Kansan, professional photographer, head of Ujena Fit Club, and founder of Runner's World Magazine.

Although the races were really tough, I felt fairly good about my performances.  I PR'd in the 10K, which I had set out to do, and held on in the 5K for an Age Group award.  The downside is I was smoked by my friend and pseudo running coach, Eladio.  He didn't beat me last year, but on Sunday he flat out blew me away.

Overall it was just a great day to run in Kansas City.  The event was a little smaller than we thought it would be, but many of the faster runners in the area attended the event.  Everyone was eager to test themselves in this unique format. But the coolest part of the event was getting to meet Billy Mills.  Mr. Mills was the 1964 winner of the Olympic 10K Gold Medal.  He literally came from out of nowhere to win in the last 100 meters of the race in what many consider the biggest upset in Olympic track & field history.  He is also still the only American 10K Olympic Gold Medalist ever.  Coincidentally, it was also Mr. Mills 75th birthday on the day of the race.  We got to listen to him speak a little, and when we met him was of course very friendly and gracious.

(photo source) Billy Mills becoming the only
American Olympic Gold Medalist in the 10K
at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics
1964 Olympic Champion Billy Mills
Like Bob Anderson, Billy Mills has Kansas roots.  As an Oglala Sioux Native American raised in South Dakota, Mr. Mills attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. It was at Haskell that Mr. Mills gave up boxing to focus on running.

After Haskell, Mr. Mills attended the University of Kansas, also in Lawrence, on a track & field scholarship.  While there, he became a three time NCAA Track & Field All-American.  After earning a degree at the University, he entered the United States Marine Corps.  He was a First Lieutenant when he competed in the 1964 Olympics.

Mr. Mills qualified for the 10,000 meters and also the Marathon in the 1964 Olympics.  The favorite for the 10K was Australian World Record Holder Ron Clarke, and a few other runners, but no one expected Mills to even medal.

As the runners entered the final lap of the 10K race, Mills and Clarke were running close together, when Clarke got boxed in on the inside.  He pushed Mills in the back couple of times trying to pass.  Almost immediately after that, another race favorite, Mohammed Gammoudi of Tunisia also tried to nudge Mills out of the way.  Mills held fast, but dropped to third place behind the two other men.  However, in the last 100 meters down the straight away, Mills came storming from the outside to pass the field and cross the finish line for gold.

An interesting side note was television announcer Dick Bank.  While broadcasting the event along with Bud Palmer, he started screaming "Look at Mills! Look at Mills!"  Bank was later fired from NBC for the show of emotion on the air.  I watched old video of the broadcast on YouTube and it is still unbelievably exciting today.  Many in the track & field community still consider it one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history.  And to date, Mr. Mills is the only American 10K Olympic Gold Medalist.

World Famous Pre Race Dance
The Race
For the past two weeks I'd been getting out of bed at 3:30AM because I had to fill in for our warehouse manager at work.  So sleeping until 4:00AM on Sunday felt like a huge treat.  I got up, milled around, ate a little something, and woke Michael up.  And then it was time for the dreaded pre-race dance.

Now listen, I don't want to rain on anyone's parade here ... but I'm getting pretty tired of the dumb thing.  It started as a cutesy little ha-ha just to have something else to add to our blogs.  And after a few races, it sorta became a ritual.  I've tried skipping it a few times, but every time I opt out of the dang thing, I have a really cruddy race!  So World Famous Pre-Race Dance it was.  Nerds.

We got to Corporate Woods in Overland Park, Kansas at about 6:40, for a 7:30 race.  I wanted plenty of time to stretch, warm up and be mentally ready for both legs of the event.  I felt pretty zoned in on the 10K, and didn't care too much about the 5K.  And even though I wasn't in peak condition, I felt pretty good and was eyeing a PR in the 10K.  As I warmed up, I saw my friend Eladio, the head of Runner's Edge in Kansas City.  I speed trained with Eladio's group last summer and recognized a few of the guys with him.   We chatted for a minute or two and wished each other good luck.  When I went back to the car to get rid of one of my warm up shirts, I told Michael I ran into him.  She asked me if he would run faster than me on Sunday.  Submissively, I said, "No, I'll kick his ass."   And I'll guarantee you Eladio probably said the same thing to his friends after I left - ha.  One of us would be right on Sunday.  The other would get humbled a little.

2013 Overland Park Double Race Elevation
The elevation profile for the course looked a lot worse than it actually ended up being.  It was a 3 mile loop that we obviously completed twice for the 10K, and then later ran for the 5K.  There were a couple of little climbs, but overall the rises were gradual and pretty short lived.

Form wasn't great on Sunday, hips collapsed
a little, and my shoulders weren't parallel
I've had a little more racing success lately by timing out my warm up strides down to the last seconds before the race.  I've found that if I can start the race hot, I throttle up to race speed much quicker and run more efficiently.  But one of the things that drive me nuts is when a race doesn't start on time.  I'm serious.  Even one minute late is unacceptable to me.  The race on Sunday was 5 minutes late.  This event had brought out several of the top runners in the region and most of them were running warm up strides in the starting area.  To have everyone stop their warm ups, get corralled, allow their heart rate's to drop, and basically ramp back up after a 5 minute break just because the event can't manage a clock ... well, it's just unacceptable. I know it sounds stupid and petty, but we pay money for these events and I managed my schedule so I would be on time - they should too.  It's by far and away my biggest pet peeve in races.  PLEASE START ON TIME!!!  (rant over)

10K Leg
When the gun finally went off, I felt pretty good.  It was cool for June 30th, only about 62 degrees, and most of the area was shaded.  I immediately found Eladio about 50 meters ahead of me and thought to myself, "Just hold back and use him as a pacer for the first half and then fly by in the last two miles."  We're usually about the same speed and I knew he would help me run a strong race.

The first half of the 10K went pretty much as planned.  I felt really smooth, like I wasn't really working that hard and managed my pace basically as scheduled.  But at about mile 4 I really began to notice that my conditioning wasn't quite where it needed to be.   And I really started laboring to keep pace.  I've really cut back my mileage this summer, only averaging about 33 miles/week for the past two months, and my legs just didn't feel like they had as much response as I would've liked.  I had planned on running a negative split race, basically an up-tempo progressive run, dropping the pace each mile.  But once I got to a certain point, that became really difficult to do and didn't quite work out as planned.  My splits for the 10K were as follows ...

6:42,  6:23,  6:16,  6:28,  6:13,  6:17  (5:59/pace for the final .2) ... 39:52  New 10K PR 

As we approached mile 5 I was really fighting it.  My form wasn't great.  I was sucking wind.  But worst of all, I couldn't catch Eladio.  Not "worst of all" because I was worried about Eladio finishing ahead of me, he's a really good runner.  But I knew if I didn't pass him at the end, it meant that my race time wouldn't be were I wanted it to be ... and worse, Michael would give me crap - which of course she made good on.  I kept closing the gap to about 20 meters on him for the entire race, but just couldn't catch him.  And then on the final stretch, where I usually display my "amazing kick", I had nothing left ... and Eladio was the one "Kicking MY ass" - ha.

As I crossed the finish line for the 10K, my legs felt like Jello,  my lungs ached, and I was light-headed.  But I looked a the clock and saw that I had accomplished my goal of a new 10K PR at 39:52.  So even though I felt like I should have been faster, I was really happy with the result. Now it was time to find Eladio and eat a little crow.  I caught up with him and said, "Man, you ran a great race - you're a lot faster than last year!"  He laughed and said he had lost quite a bit of weight and had been training really hard, and it was the first time he'd gone under 40 minutes in a long time.  I congratulated him and told him I thought I would be able to hang back and get him at the end, but I just couldn't reel him in.  We also discussed the strategy for the second race, but all I wanted to do at that point was sit down for a bit.

I had about an hour before the start of the 5K.  So I went to the car and rolled out on my foam roller that I had brought along.  The plan was to keep moving for the entire time after the race, but the lactic acid that had built up in my legs made them feel like tree trunks and I just wanted to sit down for a few minutes.  So I did for about 5 minutes.  I ate half of a banana.  Stretched.  Had some blue berries.  Stretched.  Drank some water.  And stretched some more.  Even though it was just a 10K, I was feeling a little depleted so I also had half of a Gu gel.  After about 15 minutes I met up with Michael.  We walked around for a while and then at about 10 minutes before the 5K, I began warming up again.  I noticed that my legs felt tired, but not as bad as I thought they would.  After about a mile warm up and some strides, I was ready for race #2.

5K Leg
When the gun sounded for the second race, my legs felt great.  It seemed like I was running at my normal 5K pace, but when I glanced at my Garmin, I was about 30 seconds below it.  That was really weird.   For most of the 5K, I could gradually get up to my normal pace of around 6:00/mile, but I just couldn't hold it.  I had to settle for about 6:30.  Following is my pace for the 5K ...

6:25,  6:22,  6:22  (5:59/pace for the final .1) ... 19:52

My strategy for the 5K was to just "hold on".  I saw the results after the first race and knew that I was in second place in my age group.  I figured that if I could just hold my pace, I would finish in the top three.  For most of the 5K, we found ourselves running in the same pack of people as the 10K.  There were a few changes in placing, but for the most part it was the same as the first race.  And as with the first race, Eladio was about 50 meters in front of me and I just couldn't match his pace on Sunday.  But at that point I didn't care anymore, I just wanted to be done.  This set of races was a lot tougher than I thought they would be.

The medal stand for the 40-somethings on Sunday, me on the far right (Eladio is third from the left)
I knew my 5K time would be slower than normal, but I was shocked at how slow it was as I crossed the finish line.  I looked up and saw 19:52 on the clock.  Huh???  It was one of the slowest 5K's I've ever ran.  I barely broke 20 minutes!  But as I visited with other runners after the race, they all said that their 5K pace ended up being about the same as their 10K.  Mine were exactly the same.  Both ended up being 6:25/mile.  It was a really good 10K, and a really bad 5k for me.  But my overall time of 59:45 earned me 2nd Place in the 40-44 age group and I got to go up on the medal stand with Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills who also presented me my age group medal ... pretty cool!

I again found Eladio and congratulated him on a great set of races.  After some time had passed, and we were waiting on the awards ceremony, he jogged by me and said, "Hey thanks for making my day!"  Kinda like "Hey thanks for getting smoked by me!"  I laughed because it sounded a little cocky.  He had outran me on Sunday and I knew he felt good about it.  I also laughed because I would have probably said exactly the same thing to him - ha!

As usual, Michael and I had a great time running a race together on Sunday.  It was just a great morning.   I'm so blessed o be able to share something I enjoy like this with my wife.  It makes the whole experience so much better when you get to spend it with someone you love.  She of course gave me crap all day because of my cocky prediction about the race, but it was all in good fun.  The race took a lot out of us both, so we went home and crashed.  But not before we ate some delicious pizza for lunch.  It was a nice post-race celebration.

Bob Anderson is planning on growing The Double Race, so you'll probably see one in an area near you before long.  If so, I would really encourage you to take the challenge.  It's not easy, and you might be surprised by your results, but I think overall you'll really enjoy the experience.  We did!
... be great today!


  1. Congrats on the new PR! Nice! Right where I'd love to be for a 10k...someday...maybe. And I'm so jealous that you got to meet Billy Mills!
    I agree about races starting on time. It's especially annoying if you toss your water, cram into a corral, then just stand there for an extra 10 minutes while your muscles get cold. Dreadful.
    It's interesting to see what worked for the hour break between races. I think it would actually have been easier if the races had been reversed, and the 10k had been late. It just seems hard to me to have a long break, then have to crank it for the 5k.

  2. Seriously fantastic performance on both races. The fact that you matched your 10k pace for the 5k race is pretty dang awesome in my opinion. I also think it is kinda cool that you set a 10k PR off a "down time" in training. You are going to be completely tearing up the scene and kicking Eladio's by fall!

  3. Congrats on a 10k Pr and then running the 5k so fast too! Nicely done.

    Love the pre race dance ritual, fun and a little nerdy :)

  4. You're Mr consistency with your pace, aren't you? I'm not surprised that your pace was a bit slower than usual in your 5k - you'd just run a PB for your 10.

  5. Very impressive. Good job on the PR.

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  7. Congrats on the 10k PR and taking second in your age group, but bigger congrats on racing with Michael! Like you said, you are blessed to be able to race with someone you love. Very cool.

    Oh, great RR too (like usual).

  8. Great running and awesome PR for the 10km! Congratulations! There is a fine balance between having rested legs and having under trained legs. For the 10k it was just right.Now time to kick up the training and then taper down again. You are an awesome runner Jim, keep it going!

  9. Congrats on the PR, and NICE JOB on the pacing! Holy consistency, Batman!

  10. congrats on the 10K PR! And crazy on how your pacing was the same as the 5K!

    And that is awesome that you got to meet Billy Mills, to me his win at the 1964 Olympics is still the biggest upset in Olympic history in any event. I remember reading that the US Olympic committee thought he had no shot, and they didn't even give him shoes that fit! And he still won!

  11. Congrats on your PR! Not that I'm complaining (I have the best spectator/ supporter ever), but I'm very envious of couples who both run- I think it's awesome!


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