I ran a 1:01:39 which is a 5 second PR (I guess that still counts as a PR). That was good enough for 15th (of 412) overall and 2nd (of 30) in the 35-39 Age Group. 14th overall was 59:49, so I wasn't close to catching anyone. 14th overall also happened to be 1st in the 35-39 Age Group. Overall results are available at the HTC website. The young runner I mention in the first 5k of the report below was David Gunther, a 14 year old. He set a state age record at the race. I met him and his parents after the race and he was a very nice young man and was happy with his race. He should be!
I wasn't sure I'd run this one. I wanted to. I mean, I haven't raced since Cotton Row, and I needed to toe the line again. But my daughter just had a tonsillectomy, and I wanted to be sure she was recovering well before I committed to a race. Well, she's done just GREAT since the surgery, so Leigh and I decided late last night that I'd get up and go sign up on race day.
I was running a little late as usual, but was able to get most of my pre-race routine done and even registered in time to get one of the last shirts. Thanks to Mike O'Melia, Fleet Feet, and all the volunteers today.
I did a 2 mile warm up with a random runner who happened to be Eddie Blankenship. He ran the Duck and Run 5k and actually won the masters honors there. He was telling me what a great time he had at the race before I even let him know I was the race director. AWESOME! I'm glad to know so many folks had such a good time.
The race was just a little late getting started, but it was no big deal to me. I scoped out the competition, and picked out who would be the lead pack, the next pack, and the group I should be in. I definitely started a little quick, with the second pack, but backed off quickly. I saw Timothy Pitt who has been running strong lately and was running about my pace, so I decided to stay with him for bit.
I had an hour in mind, but I knew an hour would be a challenge on this course. I hit the first mile, an uphill mile with a turnaround, at 6:20, well on pace for that and still behind Tim. I felt really good, but there was a long way to go. I passed a really young runner (maybe 15 years old or so?) at the scenic overlook just before the 2 mile split. I ran mile 2 in 6:25, still on pace. Just after mile 2, I passed Tim and clocked mile 3 in 6:24. An hour will be tough!
On to 10k
On the way to mile 4, the course starts to growl at you a little. Along the way to mile 4, I passed Emily Hardin. I am not in her class. She's a tough runner who regularly wins, won the San Francisco Marathon, and who looks like she's jogging when she's running a 6:00 pace. I asked her, "Is this a marathon pace run? Are you OK?" She had just finished doing a 40 mile Rim to Rim run in the grand canyon. Ahhh. That explains it. I absolutely admire her and know that she's the top female runner in North Alabama. She wished me well as I went by.
Mile 4 was a miserable 6:40 and the wheels were coming off. I decided that I couldn't make up 15 seconds in one mile, but if I'm tenacious I can make it up before the end. Well, there was nobody challenging me and nobody in reach. Mile 5 was 6:36 and mile 6 was 6:37. So much for making it up a little at a time. Here, I lost my focus and really didn't run well.
The Last 5k
At all the turns here, I would sneak a peek over my shoulder. I knew that I was losing time because my splits were just too slow, but nobody was really close. Mile 7 was 6:43. I have no idea why I didn't just gut it out and run faster. Mile 8 was 6:44. Again, the pain of exertion comes down to three words, "Suck it up!" I didn't. I exerted less. After mile 8, I looked over my shoulder and noticed the young guy that I passed early gaining on me. I knew that at this point, I would have to come back (which I was kinda doing) or they would have to run much faster than they had been to catch me. So I ran a little harder in the last 1.3. I ran closer to my pace during the early miles. Nobody caught me, but they weren't too far behind. Mile 9 was 6:37 and the 0.3 (actually 0.4 by my watch) was 2:27.
This was also a very lonely stretch. After Emily in the fourth mile, I didn't see another runner (except on the overlapping portions of the course). I could have used some motivation.
I finished 1:01:39 which is a 5 second PR. It's a personal best 15k, but it wasn't my personal best and I know it. Not bad for shaking the race cobwebs off, though. I know that I need to work harder, especially on the track. I felt like I could have maintained a 6:35 - 6:45 pace for another 3 or 4 miles, but I don't think I could have run any faster. Weird, I know.
I'm going to mix up my training a bit after RCM. I'm going to spend more time on the track working on speed. I'm going to do drills and 5k pace and faster more often.