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I haven't run a PR on the track in over 9 years. I haven't even run the Steeplechase since 2008. I've been told I should retire, I should "Hang up the spikes" I'm "too old", but HOW??? I love to run! I love to race! I KNOW I've got more! The Flame Within burns hot and bright, and until it fades, there will be no sleep for this weary soul.

Friday, March 12, 2010

ChornyRuns! the 8 Tuff Miles on St. John

Most photos courtesy of Don Hebert Photography and my half naked body.

What an amazing time it is down in the Virgin Islands. The sun shines, the Islands float and the water's not frozen. Last year I was in the Islands for 3 weeks and learned about a race on St. John called the 8Tuff miles. I heard that it was a very tough course that climbed 1400ft and ended with a couple downhill miles. I also heard that there was a $3000 cash prize for the first person to break a 5:45 per mile average; 48:02. The course record was 49:20 and was run by Jeremy Zuber who had won for something like 5 or 6 years in a row. What a great challenge! I did not know the exact course, but I had driven some of the roads when I was there last year, so I had seen some of the hills. My impression was that I would have a good shot at that time-bonus, but it is so hard to tell on those hills... especially in a car.

Going into this years race, I knew that it would be suicide to skip the hill training, but I have to say, I was not in great 'hill' shape. I added about 3 hill workouts in the 4 weeks leading up to the race, and I think that helped me to get in hill climbing mode. The hills here in Indiana aren't as long as those hills on St. John, but it did the trick.

Strategy for the race was based completely on speculation... I had no idea how fast I could expect to run downhill, so I didn't really know what pace I would have to hold going up. My thoughts were to aim for about 6:15 avg up the hill (first 5 miles), and that would leave a 4:55 avg down (last 3 miles).

Before the race, I had heard about a couple of other contenders that were showing up to go after the big prize, so I was a little nervous. One guy was a supposed 2:20 marathoner, and then a 1:06 half marathoner. At top shape, both would have been great competitors. The marathoner thought it would be a good idea to run the last 4 miles of the course 4 days before the race, and I think his legs were still shot on race day. The other was dealing with a hip issue that was not sure to be a hindrance or not. With his hip vs. my Achilles Tendon, it was a toss up.

My Achilles somehow felt great for the race. The gun sounded and off we went. The first hill starts about 600m into the race and lasts through mile 2. First split, 5:51. Felt good about that, but then we ran 6:29. At this point, I wasn't sure if we were going to run fast enough. The 3rd mile was quite flat, and we actually ran 5:21, and here I knew that one of us was going to get the time. The marathoner had fallen off the pace early, and Chris (half marathoner) and I were leading the pack up the hill. Miles 4 and 5 have a few hills that are steeper than the first long hill, and slowed us down to a 6:41 mile. Mile 5-6=11:02 and this brought me into the down hill. As we crested the highest point, Chris was leading me by about 40-50 meters, and I was thinking that if he was fast on the downhill, I might have trouble catching him. I started to open up and ran 4:42 for the first mile downhill and caught Chris pretty quickly. I was hoping I hadn't gone too hard too soon, because this was a solid constant downhill, and I didn't want to blow out my Quads. But, I threw in a 4:19 8th mile and cruised in to the victory.
Final time was 46:26 and I was quite happy with that. I got the time bonus and the $300 in Beer Money from the Tap Room, a local bar. I tried to spend all the Beer money, but I still have over half of it left. I guess I'll have to take another trip to the Islands soon. I hope to make it back next year to defend my title, but we'll have to see what the calender looks like. I was so sore for the next 4 days...everywhere. Next time I'll do a lot more hills before the race.

The race was very well run, and it looked like a lot of people had a great time. My cousin Kendall ran the race and was still on her feet at the end, and I think my Uncle may have been motivated to run next year. It was very much a party atmosphere after the race and I think some people started to celebrate right after the race, at 8:30 in the morning.