On a day when my legs were incredibly sore, I was able to stay focused and turn around what could have been a very disappointing race. The race conditions were actually quite good: around 50 degrees, partly cloudy, light wind. The competition was fairly competitive: the top four runners all finished under 75 minutes; the winner in a few seconds over 69 minutes. My day was more about survival than anything but that I did well enough.
Warming up, my legs showed a glimmer of life and I was hopeful that I would be able to run hard. I wanted to go out conservative and then keep a consistent pace under 6 minutes per mile. I realized that such a plan was going to be nearly impossible after around two miles. So here's what actually happened (I'll start with the splits): 5:37, 5:45, 5:55, 5:55, 6:25, 6:03, 6:26, 6:41, 6:35, 5:53, 5:59, 5:45, 5:44. If I had been planning a "plateau" style pace, then my execution would have been flawless! A lead group of three was gone in the first 800 meters while a second group of four (myself and Fran included) followed. The group of four dwindled to two after the mile (Fran and the 4th place finisher sticking together), myself backing off, the fourth runner dropping. I felt ok through the first mile but, around mile two, my legs started to turn solid. If there was even a foot of incline, I was having a hard time, and was in a lot of pain, climbing. So, when the 200 foot incline from mile 4.5 to mile 5 came around, I felt like I was running in mud. In some respects, I was surprised that I had maintained a 6:25 mile when I reached mile 5 at the top of the hill. I sauntered (or so it felt) through the next two miles and, miraculously, caught Fran. He was feeling terribly sick and looked every bit of it. When he dropped at mile 8.5, I was finally feeling like I could start to make a move again. I went for it and, despite the relentless pain on the inclines (and even on the straightaways at this point), was rewarded with four strong final miles. To bounce back, after falling behind and feeling miserable, was a very promising result.
So, 5th place, 1:19:30, 6:05/mile. I'll have to remind myself NOT to run 20 miles two days before the Syttende Mai in two weeks.