In all honesty, I wasn't quite sure what to expect in this race. I'm in the depths of marathon training, and my legs feel like they can go forever but also like they don't have any real spark to them right now. I did have hopes of running a good race, and breaking 40 at a minimum.
But of course, there was also the weather. While last year we had pretty good weather for this race, this year the forecast was for temps in the 20s and high winds. In the words of the Running Weatherman, "This is probably one of the worst forecasts I have seen so far this year." Ominous, indeed.
Fortunately, the weather ended up not being that bad. It was chilly, and windy, but nowhere near the worst wind I've run in. Certainly much better than some of the predictions I had read.
The weather was good enough that I decided after jogging for about 25 minutes that I was too warm in my tights and longsleeve. Luckily, I had brought a change of clothes, and so could easily swap into my shorts and singlet. I felt a bit chilly at the start of the race, but I still think it was the right choice.
The race course was out and back, with the first miles into a headwind, and more or less uphill (the first mile is net downhill, but also has an overpass in it). My plan was to tuck in behind a pack on the way out, and then run solo on the way back. Heck, several of my teammates were running this race, and I had hopes that I might be able to run with them.
But very few plans survive the first minutes of the race. :) They started the race a bit faster than felt right for me, and so I let myself fall back. My legs felt a bit sleepy still, and solid but not fast. As it happened, I ended up soloing most of the first two miles. Not ideal. But oh well.
Around the two mile mark, I pulled along side with another woman who appeared to be about my age. It was interesting, in that I was trying to maintain a steady hard effort, while she kept surging past me, then slowing, and falling back. Then surging again. It was actually a bit distracting, as I didn't want to start dueling her, as unevenly as she was running. So I ignored her as best I could, and was well ahead by the time we hit the merciful turnaround point at the 5K mark.
(I say merciful because miles 2-3, which were a false flat uphill and into the wind, were a bit hard. It was very nice to turn around and get the wind to my back)
A bit after the turnaround point, she surged once more and passed me pretty aggressively. I considered responding, but my legs didn't have that type of speed in them. So I held my effort. A half mile later, I passed her for the final time as she sat on the side of the course. I'm still not sure what was going on there.
From then on, I was again by myself more or less, passing the occasional person from time to time. I just focused on relaxing, running fast, and trying to let my teammates ahead of me tow me. I was keeping a slight bit in reserve so that I could try to kick a bit starting at the 6 mile mark -- a mark that never seemed to come. Then I finally saw the marker. Only to see the clock next to it and realize that it was actually the finish line. I lifted my knees a bit more, but didn't have enough real estate left to really open up. Oh well. Honestly, my legs felt slow enough that I'm not sure how much of a kick I could have mustered anyway.
Mile 1: 6:23 (mostly downhill, but with an overpass),
Mile 2: 6:49 (uphill, into wind),
Mile 3: 6:54 (uphill, into wind),
Mile 4: 6:28 (a bit of uphill, then u-turn and downhill with tailwind),
Mile 5: 6:15 (downhill with tailwind),
Mile 6+last part 7:31 (for 1.21 miles - 6:16 pace) (some downhill with tailwind, and also overpass and slight uphill)
The thing that was simultaneously annoying/encouraging is that I wasn't out of breath or tired at the end of the race; my legs just didn't want to move faster. I'm working under the belief that this is just all the marathon training in my legs. I did cut back some this week, but not anywhere near as much as I would have if this had been a goal race.
So now, I'm more motivated then ever after this race to spend my post marathon running year (after adequate recovery) focusing on speed development and shorter stuff. I've got a collection of PRs at shorter distances that I think are outdated, but it seems like they're not going to fall until I target them specifically. Which is a shame, because I love more mileage and long runs. But you can't have your cake and eat it also.
- Left home at 6:20, got there at 6:45, which was perfect for finding a great parking spot.
- As with my other races this cycle, I'm running everything in my trainers, rather than my flats. I feel like I'm giving up some time, especially in the shorter races, but I'd rather be careful - I worry that racing in my flats combined with the marathon training will cause a plantar fascitis relapse. When I can take 2-3 days off if needed after a race, then I'll start wearing my flats again.
- One puff of Dulera at around 6 this morning.
- This race is really set up pretty well for a mid-winter race. They open up the US Patent office, which is right outside the start/finish, and let runners wait in there for the start. Very convenient.