How to run effectively in a large race
Last evening, I ran the Corporate Challenge here in Albany. I enjoy running larger races at longer distances, like the Boilermaker 15K, because there is time to "make up" for a slow start during the middle and end of the race. Other large races are also chip timed, which gives runner a more accurate finishing time.
The Corporate Challenge is only 3.5 miles, and I walked/jogged the first five minutes of the race. Several times during the race I was slowed down by being unable to pass the sheer number of racers in front of me who had started out too fast and were slowing down to a more routine training pace.
What should a competitive, but middle-of-the-pack runner do in a race like this?
I decided to focus on practicing my racing skills for future races.
In a large crowded race, I will practice finding paths in between runners so I can pass more effectively.
In a smaller race I usually run at my pace until I find another runner at a slightly faster pace, and then concentrate on keeping up with him/her. In a large race, there are just too many people running at different speeds to find a good long term pacing partner. Instead, I concentrated on listening to my body and keeping the pressure on myself to run near my lactate threshold.
The sprint finish is downhill, so I practiced using gravity to help me move forward and raising my knees so that I could run with a full, fast stride.
I ran nowhere near a PR, but it felt good to pass so many people!