I’ve been itching to race more and more these days, not just from a lack of competition, having done nothing significant since Ironman Muskoka 70.3 other than a Halloween 5k in the pouring rain, but from a growing excitement due to recent workout results to see where I am at after so many hours of training invested. No surprise that following a relatively calm Buffalo winter New York has to issue a state of emergency for Winter Storm Nemo running from Friday night into the hours leading up until the race, calling for 12 + inches of snow, and some very poor road conditions.
I would love to use the storm as an excuse for going slower than anticipated but unfortunately I can not. By morning all the roads were surprisingly clear, a far departure from last year. I give a lot of credit to the race directors who apparently did work to get special attention from the plows to the race route. Snow was falling but lightly and 19 degrees, even with wind, felt surprisingly warm.
The plan, based on recent workout paces and heart rate, after careful calculations, was to go out at 5:30 min/mile and do my best to hold on. The conditions were expected to add 10 seconds to that pace but because everything was so improved by race start I had no reason not to go for it. Here’s how things went –
I always love to see a race start when a group of novice runners go out way faster than possible to hold and inevitably blow up. I find this happening particularly among young runners. A little advice, if I pass you in a road race than you’re doing something wrong. Through the first half mile I was only 10th at a 5:30 pace with at least 5 runners going sub 5:20. By 3 miles in I was in 7th, 5th at the half way mark and tied with 3rd from mile 6 until 9.5. I knew after a few exchanges of place that it would be a race for 3rd. My strategy was to either blow by my competition at mile 9, to give me enough of a lead to break his confidence going into the last long hill or sit on his heals until the hill so that he could set the pace than I could surge up the hill ahead of him. I went for the first option, but it backfired when he kept with me and as I started the 0.25 mile hill tired he ran past, for a finish 10 seconds ahead of mine.
I am very glad I did this race, if for nothing else to remember that feeling of doing your best and still seeing your competition slip away. It’s easy to think you’re on top of your game when everything you do is by yourself but that all gets put into perspective when you go toe to toe on the start line again. Part of me wants to think that I am in a good place considering that I’m training to be a triathlete now, not a runner, and that I don’t run these paces (sub 6) hardly ever. But the other part of me says there is no excuse, you need to be better.
I feel a greater sense of determination going into this next build phase. No complaints, no interference, no excuses. But tonight I’m going to have a little fun to celebrate a well executed 6 weeks of training.