My pre-race plan worked flawlessly. I parked at work, changed, and jogged down to the start line along the waterfront as a warm up. The sound of the national anthem filled the air as I approached, which gave me just enough time to do a couple strides, hop the barrier, and nudge my way to the front of the pack. To this point I still hadn't said a word to anyone. I was doing this race ninja assassin style.
In true Shamrock fashion it was miserable out - rain, wind, and cold. Just like Boston last year. I couldn't believe the number of slow bodies I had to pass right from the gun. Like really slow. After the first couple hundred meters I settled in all right. I could tell mentally I wasn't really into it though, and my breathing felt just a little labored for the pace we were carrying 6:30ish.
This race starts to go uphill after the first few miles. It's a gradual climb up Broadway and then gets worse up Terwilliger. Broadway is always sneaky tough, and I found myself thinking negative thoughts already at this point. Race rusty.
The race gets real nasty when it turns onto Terwilliger. I stopped for 5 seconds to stretch out my leg, and then forged ahead. I've trained multiple times on this road at fast paces and know exactly what I'm getting around every turn and over every bump. This should be my strong suit, but today it wasn't. By the time we hit Terwilliger we had been going at a pretty decent clip for 3 miles, which obviously makes the hills tougher when you get to them, but I didn't expect this much of a struggle. When I couldn't hit expected pace and it was hurting, my head started playing games, which makes you less relaxed and your breathing more labored. Things get tough at this point.
|Grinding up Terwilliger|
On the second to last steep little uphill, I turned to my left in obvious pain and the guy next to me whom I had seen earlier chatting up everyone, yelled out me, "Let's get up this hill!" Rather than attacking with him, I backed off a bit. Not into it today. I stopped and walked for maybe 10 seconds. So weak.
When I did start back up I was ready to rock. I think I caught most everyone who was around me when I slowed down. By the time we hit the last hill the wind and rain were pelting us at full force as we crested the top. It was nuts.
From here it was roughly three miles gradually back down Barber to the finish. I ticked off some pretty decent splits on this section, and caught the lady I had targeted way in front of me going up Terwilliger as someone I wanted to catch and beat. I don't know what stuck out other than she looked fit and she was wearing an orange tank top. She stood out and seemed tough. I found something to race for. It always happens if you stick it out. There's always somebody to race. I've stopped and walked in many a race, including a 5k that I've written about, but I've never quit.
From mile 7 onward, with the help of a downhill grade, I hit splits of 6:00, 6:19, 6:11, and 6:00 the last third of a mile. Orange lady and I yo-yoed for most of it. I past her for good with about a mile to go. Yay.
The downside was I ended up getting past by some dude who was behind me with a half mile to go and nearly got taken out by a bus. He had to come to a full stop. He tracked me down. Passed. I caught up and re-passed with a couple hundred yards to go and couldn't hold on. Devastating. Turns out he was 40 as well. Doh.
I didn't speak a word to anyone the entire morning until the end. Shouting "let's get up this hill" man came up and introduced himself after the race. After a couple pleasantries, I grabbed my race medal/beer opener and started jogging back to work, partially as a cool down, but mostly because it was freezing and raining sideways.
I will come back someday in the next couple years to take down my existing PB here. A true testament to superb fitness would be to go sub-60min on this course. That may be a long term goal.
P.S. (3/25/16) - I took 12 days off from running in a row after this race. My heel was killing me. The combination of up tempo and a significant downhill portion just wrecked it. I went for an easy 5 mile tester run today during lunch because it was starting to feel better. It hurts. Not much improvement. I could be off for a while.
P.S.S. (3/31/16) - Still sore and no running, but it feels like it's getting better.