2001, Pound for Pound Race

Short version: 5 mile race. 32:53 time, 9th AO, 1st in weight division.

Longer version:

The Fort Steilacoom Running Club has put on this race every year since 1984. It is unique in that instead of age divisions, it uses weight divisions. They give awards three deep in weight categories every 5 kg. This is the first time I've been able to run this race.

I was pretty aggressive in my goals for this race. I had three:
1. Beat anyone in my weight class and heavier.
2. Run 33:20, a PR for this distance by 10 seconds.
3. Don't aggravate my sore Achilles tendon.

My 5 mile PR was set last fall on a relatively flat and fast double loop XC course under ideal conditions. My plan for today was to run a 6:40 pace, knowing that this course was not likely to be as fast. When I got to the race and looked at the course, I doubted that I would PR here today. The course was tough, very hilly with a very noticeable wind. I warmed up by running out on the first 1.5 miles of the course and then ran back. The sky was clear, the sun was shining, and I quickly realized that this was going to be a perfect shorts and singlet day despite the chill and the wind.

The field was relatively small (in terms of numbers) and relatively large (in terms of runner size). I was able to line up in the second row of runners, much farther forward than I normally dare. At the start a group quickly took off led by local fast guy Brian VanEkke. He is a strong 5k to 5 mile runner and I knew that he would quickly be all by himself. Two of the other club runners that can beat him, his brother Mark and Dan Salazar, weren't racing today.

A 100m into the race I started to wonder where all these big, fast guys had come from. I weighed in at 80.8 kg which put me in the 76 - 80 kg weight class. I was regretting the 10 pounds that I've lost over the last few months. Around me now were a bunch of big young studs that were just chewing up the road. I felt I was going out too fast, but I needed to keep these guys in sight. The course drops 15' in the first 1/4 mile, then there is a short, steep hill and then the course continues to climb 90' to the 1 mile mark. A guy pushing a baby jogger caught me on the short hill. That was enough humiliation to speed me up some. The first uphill mile came at 6:35.

The course then drops 75' in a little less than a 1/2 mile then goes up another 125' till just after the 2 mile mark. I had dropped the baby jogger after the 1 mile mark and slowly caught several of the big guys that were ahead of me. I was pushing faster than I felt wise, but I wanted to beat these big guys and felt I would have an easier time holding them off later than I would catching them. There was one guy with a short crew cut that looked like a slightly shorter Dolph Lundgren. This guy was built. He was also not coming back to me at all like the other big guys had. An other smaller runner caught me on the uphill and he and I hung onto him. The second mile was a much slower 6:46.

Right after the 2 mile mark there is a 1/4 mile of level ground. I set my sights on the big stud in front of me and tried to make up some distance. He was about 50m ahead. The course then does a Kamikaze downhill, dropping 100' in a 1/4 mile. It was too steep for me to run well and I was getting some rather nasty pains in my feet trying to make the right angle turns (LOTS of turns on this course) while running downhill. I wasn't making up ground on the Stud and was having to put up with the other runner that had caught me earlier. He felt it necessary to give me encouragement on the uphills, and coaching advice on the downhills. The problem was he and I were pretty well matched and I couldn't shake him.

From about the half-way point of the race the course rises steadily a 125' for the next mile. I was able to narrow the gap between me and Stud to about 20m, but that was it. Mile 3 came in 6:44 and we reached the high point of the course right at 3.5 miles. At this point I pushed to rid myself of my self-appointed coach and cheerleader as I tried to run the downhill well. The course dropped about 100' in a little over a mile with just one small roller to break it up. Mile 4 came in 6:46. I must have been feeling the effects of going out too fast because it sure felt like I was running faster than 6:46 and it was downhill.

Most of the last mile is slight downhill with one short drop right before a sharp turn and 100m sprint to the finish. I was losing ground on the Stud, but gaining ground on my obnoxious friend. I had a surprisingly good kicked at the finish.

So the splits were:

I only achieved 1 1/2 of my three goals.

I didn't beat everyone my weight or heavier. The Stud turned out to be a tri-athlete that weighed in at 97kg. He beat me by 20 seconds or so. The guy that finished 2nd OA was 86kg and is 48 years old. He had 5 kilos and 5 years on me and he ran the race in 30:xx. I did beat everyone else in my weight class however which gave me 1st in my division. Goal missed.

I got a PR. Despite the tough course, I did better than I thought I could. It is nice to know that the training and miles are having some effect. Goal met.

I have a sore Achilles. It isn't too bad, but it does hurt more than it did. I think it will be OK. This is the 1/2 of the goal met.


David S. Hays, O.D.,dhays@davidhays.net