Swamp Devil 15k

This was a great race. If a bit more competitive, if a bit better attended, if laid out just a bit better, this course and race could be awesome. Very low-key, no frills event – basically just got a t-shirt and some snacks after. Plaque for 1st overall; medals for AG awards. No $, no gift certs, not much happening after. But it was a Category 3 race, which, for USATFNJ Grand Prix Scoring, was missing from my resume. So we made the trip to the Swamp Devil 15K at the Lord Stirling School in Basking Ridge for a weird 12 PM start. Looking at the map, this course could have been laid out to avoid at least two of the 180s without changing the roads needed to be closed at all. Weird that they wouldn’t just do that. Anyhoo…got to share this day with my lovely wife, Meghan who ran a nice time as her 1st “test” back after Chicago, and she ran a solid, well-paced and very smart race (as per her usual) and is ready to get back to work on the rest of the fall.  Most of our teammates were running the USATFNJ 8K, but thankfully they are understanding and put no pressure on us to race, so we got to fill out our scorecards today.

After doing my 3 mile warmup (racing on Sundays usually means finding a way to make the LR mileage work, too) and my usual pre-race drills and a stride out, the race started pretty quietly with a “go” from the starter and a nice downhill stretch for 1/4 mile or so. I checked my pace and breathing early and I felt great today. I was pushing a bit too much when it flattened out, so rather than battle the leaders I settled into a groove and actually ran with music (bought some old Oakley Thump shades on Ebay – the built-in MP3 player AND attached headphones are awesome! No wires, no armband!) to help me zone out & focus in. I just took things one step at a time, and tried to get into a rhythm. It worked except for the course layout, which featured THREE 180 degree turnarounds, which are total momentum killers. Regardless, I came though 5 miles just shy of my road PR for that distance (29:22 vs PR of 29:05) and actually PRd for 10k based on my watch/pacing, hitting 36:30 at that point (PR of 36:47 this past spring). The only thing left to do was finish it out. Added a solid cooldown to get over 15 miles for the day. Can’t forget to go to church on Sundays…

The final 5k (plus a little extra) was rough because it was essentially just a long straightaway with 4 little climbs, and an uphill/rise for the last 1/4 mile or so (reverse of the opening 1/4 mile or so) PLUS a major – and I mean MAJOR – headwind. I don’t complain & I don’t make excuses BUT this made it hard to even stay in a rhythm, let alone maintain pace or kick. So I just tried to maintain good form. Ultimately this was a PR by over 2:00 (I ran 58:13 in April for 15k) and you don’t get these huge PRs often. It feels good to get a positive outcome after a few rough weeks of training and some failed workouts and attempts at quality tuneups.

Some #s to crunch:

Garmin watch – 9.39 miles/55:58/5:57 pace

Official race results – 15k/55:58.706:00 pace

Coolrunning.com pace calculator – 5:57 pace for 9.39 miles – 55:33.9 for the actual 15k.

55:58 according to McMillan = 1:20:32 1/2 marathon (6:09/mile)

55:58 using VDOT calculator = 1:21:43 1/2 marathon (6:14 pace)

55:33 according to McMillan = 1:19:56 1/2 marathon (6:06/mile)

55:33 using VDOT calculator = 1:20:30 1/2 marathon (6:09/mile)

All of this bodes well – my fastest mile Sunday was mile 5 (5:47.6) & my slowest mile was mile 9 (6:14 with the headwind) so it looks like if I can start slightly conservative at the Delaware Canal 1/2, say NOT sub 6’s like a doofus, and get into a groove by the turnaround, a PR (sub 1:22:54) is in the cards. The sub 1:20 just doesn’t seem to be there – yet – but it’s coming.

Thanks, Coach Marc Pelerin for the guidance, the flexibility and the plan. Distance running is an investment and I didn’t go to the bank except for the final mile or so on Sunday. There’s plenty in the account right now and I’ll use a day or two for recovery before I start depositing some more quality miles. I’m hoping NOT to cash out on 11/15 so I can make a few more withdrawals the last month of the racing season. Then, on to track and dreams of a National championship!

Race results here:


Garmin Connect data here:


More on coach Marc Pelerin here:



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