It's intimidating to find yourself in a room full of people with names like Korir and Kiptoo. Kinda like you don't belong.
But's that's where I found myself this morning. I submitted an entry to get included in the elite field at this year's race, they just said you had to have a shot at placing in the top 50, so I made my case and they accepted. But I definitely felt out of place in that little room by the start line. I did make the top 50, so I guess it was justified.
The race did not go as well as I'd hoped. I hoped that I'd be rid of whatever is in my chest by now, but it hasn't gone away. This is my second round of antibiotics, what's going on?
In any case, I ran my race under the assumption that my body was 100%, so going through the first two miles in 5:08 and 5:06 (long downhill from about 1.5 to 2.0) felt perfect. My legs felt responsive and I felt confident I'd maintain a 5:10 average the rest of the way. It wasn't to be.
Mile 3 climbs about 100 feet in elevation through a series of rolling hills and I came through in 5:35 (15:49) which seemed acceptable for the hill climb. But from there to the finish I couldn't get myself out of the 5:30 zone. Mile 4 continued the rolling hills but the altitude changed little, and I only managed 5:25 (21:14). At this point couple runners caught up to me and I managed to latch on to one, and we went back and forth for a couple miles, which helped. It's funny, I recognized him from his stride as Jesse Fayant, a guy who used to dominate Washington distance in high school. He was the same grade as Chris Lukezic, and the races between the two were epic. Jesse won state XC over Chris, then lost the state 1600m title to him. When the 3200m rolled around, the two ran stride for stride, closing the last lap in 57 thanks to a 27 second final 200m and Jesse managed to edge him at the line. Obviously his training isn't where it could be, but all this was running through my mind as we were running together.
Mile 5 lost considerable altitude before beginning the ascent up the Doomsday Hill, and should have been at least 5:00, but my watch had me at 26:49, another 5:35. This was incredibly frustrating: my body told me I was running 5:10 pace effort but I just wasn't producing. I can only chalk it up to my breathing issues. My chest was noticeably tight at this point, but regardless I was still positive my effort was equal to 5:10 miles.
The climb up the hill was not bad. My runs up Jump Off Joe have paid off as I climbed mile 6 (141 foot gain) in 5:38 (32:27). Jesse dropped here and I didn't see him till the finish. A group of runners came way, way back and I nearly caught them. I set myself to catching them as we crested the hill, but again I ran into a block at around 5:30 pace. I swear up and down it was 5:10, but the watch doesn't lie. I finished mile 7 in 5:30 (37:57) and those runners had quietly slipped away. I passed a clock that I assume was set at the 10k, my watch reading 33:36.
The finish was very cool. The crowd thickened from mile 7 on, until we turned onto the final downhill stretch to the finish. Thankfully it was downhill and I managed a decent kick down the last quarter mile or so, stopping my watch at 40:20.
Very cool race to do despite the frustrations. I'm looking forward to doing it again in future years. I was planning to race at the UW this coming Saturday but think I'll skip it to let my body get back into balance.