The usual race morning rituals were observed with the exception of the Clif Bar. I just couldn't stomach it today. We got to the race site about 45 minutes early, picked up our bibs, and headed back to the car to chill out for a bit before doing warm up strides and stretching. It's been 2 months since I've laced up my running shoes with the intention of actually racing, so I wasn't crystal clear about my expectations for this run. As we waited, I ran through the positives and negatives in my head.
- The weather was damn near perfect. Low 50's, overcast, very light wind.
- I've been working my ass off in the pool, on the bike, and on the treadmill, so my overall fitness level was pretty good coming into this race.
- My body was well rested, my sinuses were relatively clear after a week out of the pool, and my stomach felt fine.
- All the women I've been competing against in this series showed up this morning; which meant that the odds of retaking 3rd place in my age group were low.
- This course is not easy. It's the same course as the Gobble Wobble 5k and it should probably just be renamed Lots and Lots of Hills. Historically, I do not run well on hilly courses and this one has a very steep hill at the end.
- I haven't been running as much due to adding in swimming and biking, so I wasn't entirely sure that my run training was solid enough.
As we walked to the start line, I decided that as long as I didn't go out too fast and blow up after Mile 1, didn't let the bullshit voice get to me, and came in under 28 minutes (10 seconds better than Gobble Wobble), I'd be satisfied.
I wished Mr. R&R luck, pushed my way near the front, and waited for the countdown.
The first part of the course was downhill, so I wasn't too shocked to see 7:42 as my initial pace. I knew that it would self-correct on the first big uphill. I lost contact with the front pack on the first hill, but I was solidly at the front of the second pack. I was running pretty hard, but from experience, I knew that if there was a place to push on this course, Mile 1 was it. I concentrated on taking deep, even breaths as the hills rolled by under my feet.
Just past Mile 1, we turned into a headwind and I started getting cold. Right around that point I also fell into step with a guy who became a great pace rabbit - although that probably wasn't on his list of things to do that day! I checked my watch and he was steadily running the exact pace I wanted to be at and he was tall, so I tucked myself in behind him to shield myself from the wind and spent the next mile and a half watching his back.
The course sort of looks like a lasso, so as we headed into the "handle" for an out and back, I watched the leaders coming back at us and it provided a welcome distraction. In this situation, I usually start counting dudes until I see Mr. R&R, but I was starting to hurt pretty bad and lost count after about 5 people. We saw each other, did a sort of half-wave thing, and went back to our respective runs. I hit the turnaround and it was only a matter of minutes before the Mt. Everest hill had to be tackled.
I ran most of the way up, dropped to a walk for about 20 seconds to catch my breathe, and then proceeded to catch back up to my pace rabbit. I checked my watch and it clicked in my foggy brain that I was on pace for a PR. What?!!?! That was unplanned, but it lit a wildfire under my ass. As soon as we got up the hill I hit the gas, dropped my pace rabbit, and hauled ass to the finish line.
I stopped my watch, took a fraction of a second to let my new PR register in my brain, and then found a tree to lean against while the world stopped spinning. Once I felt reasonable again, I found Mr. R&R and it turns out that we both turned in huge PRs.
We meandered around waiting for official results to post - both a little shell shocked. Mr. R&R's efforts were enough to win his age group (2nd place was six and a half minutes behind him). Mine weren't enough to get on the podium - once again, I was a bridesmaid. I was 3:07 behind 3rd place, which I can live with. I was temporarily livid at myself for that walk break on the hill when I discovered that I was three tenths of a second behind 4th place. Damn! I could have used that extra series point!
Obviously I would have liked to have made the podium, but I really can't complain about a race that ends with a 50 second PR - and pie!!!
Time: 26:30 (8:32/mile pace)*
Overall Place: 66/226
Gender Place: 32/154
Age Group Place: 5/23 (F35-39)
*Once again the course was a bit short, so I don't think that this average pace is accurate.
We stopped home long enough to change out of sweaty running clothes and then went out for a celebratory lunch at Bel Air Cantina - because dual PRs and an age group win requires something special.
|Trio of House Salsas|
|Cactus, Korean Beef, and Ninja Pig Tacos|
Up Next: More tri training and the final race of the Chilly Willy Series: First Call on April 10th.