Date: Saturday October 29, 2011
Location: Bluestem Center for the Arts in Moorhead, MN
Hotel: Courtyard by Marriott-Moorhead
Weather: 27F, sunny, light winds at 6-8 from SSE making it feel like 22F
Official Results: 2011 Overall 5K results; 15K results
Goal: 59:59 (6:26 per mile pace)
Actual: 59:03 (6:21 per mile pace)
Overall: 1st overall (84 total); 1st in 50-59 Age Group (15 total)
|Yeah, it was flat. My favorite race elevation map.|
|Very proud of these consistent splits|
I had to dig out the old records. My last overall victory was on March 4, 1989 when I took home the overall title in the Grunt and Grind Duathlon in College Station, TX. My last overall title in a running only event was February 2, 1989 when I won a five mile event in Bryan, TX.
This race just had everything come together. All the planets aligned. It was perfect. A little cold, to be sure, but once I was running the temperature was a non-factor.
I had driven to the Fargo-Moorhead area on Friday and took my parents out to supper. Afterwards, I stopped at my favorite sports store on the planet, Scheels, and purchased a coldwear mock-neck full-length sleeved UnderAmour compression top along with a HeatWear full-length UnderArmour compression bottom. I am so glad I did that. I was very comfortable in that gear while racing the 15K. I was neither too cold or too hot....just perfect.
I went with CEP Men's Progressive Compression Running sock as my base sock with a thin second low-cut pair of socks from Hammer Nutrition. My feet stayed warm and the combo was not too heavy. It was, um, perfect. I also went with a light-weight knit hat and medium-weight gloves. I'm pretty sure other people dressed too lightly.
The 5K and 15K race started together. I could not figure out who was who. Some people had red bib numbers and some had black bib numbers. I had black so I figured I only needed to worry about anyone wearing a black bib number. This was not correct as I was about to find out.
The course, as you can see by the Garmin Map, was not your typical out-and-back or circular one. Instead, our first turn was right onto a gravel road. At this point I was running very comfortably in 6th overall (combined 5K and 15K runners). I had started out at about 5:50 pace and slowly dialed it back until I felt as if I was just lopping along on a joy ride. It was scary how easy the pace felt.
We then doubled back on the gravel road. The people that met me as they doubled back had all been sporting black bib numbers so I assumed all the front people were running the 15K. I was thinking there were some fast dudes there and where were all the 5K front runners? I passed two runners to move into fourth overall. We then approached the turn where the 5K runners headed back to the finish and the 15K would continue straight.
The lead runner turned left. Then the second. I was thinking, "Okaaaaayyyy, so those were 5K runners and the bib color meant nothing." Then the third runner slightly ahead of me turned to finish the 5K. In an instant I went from what I thought was fourth place to leading the whole damn 15K! There were two bikers waiting to lead me the rest of the way. I had to adjust my game-plan and thinking in an instant.
Before the race I had been trying to come up with a solid way to run the 15K. It is a distance not offered very much and I had never raced it before. My first choice was to break the race into three 5K sections and reevaluate after each 5K. Made sense since I am very familiar with 5K and can adjust on the fly. The other choice was to simply run the 15K as if it were a 10K. That would mean running hard for 10K and hope there was something left in the tank for the final 5K.
So, now I'm leading. I'm maintaining about a 6:17-20 pace. My goal was to run 6:26 pace. But I have to toss that out the window and run to win. And I'm not going to look over my shoulder at this point so early in the race. I cruise through mile 3 and know that we will now be turning a slight left dog leg in which we will again double back on the runners behind. So, I increase the tempo a bit between mile 3 and 4 in order to create more of a gap between me and whoever is sitting behind me. And on this stretch of the course, the wind is pushing us along so I take advantage of it as much as I can.
I get to the turn at this section of the course and it is a bit before I run into the pack of four runners trying to chase me down. I estimate I have 20-25 seconds on them. Holy crap, my lead can't be that big. But it is. And I'm still running fairly easy. I do a quick mental assessment of the legs and everything is feeling great. Nothing about to cramp up. No faint pain creeping in. All the pistons are firing. I'm stoked.
We then head back and take a hard left to head to the third section of the course in which we will ultimately double back on each other. I keep reading my splits waiting for the monkey to jump onto my back and I go from 6:15 one mile to 6:40 the next. But, the funny thing is I kept getting stronger as the race went on. Like I said, this was just my day. And I was not going to let it slip away.
At mile six I took on two Sports Beans, the ones with caffeine. I figured this would be the point I'd be running out of stored energy and I would need a little something. So I slowly chewed these for the next mile. I reached the turn-around and start to double back on this third section of the course. The group of four is still running together but I figure my lead has expanded out to 35-40 seconds.
In between the six and seven mile mark I am telling myself that if I choke this one away the chance to take an overall title may never, ever, happen again. I use that fear to ramp it up again. And I run mile 7 in 6:13, my second fastest split in the race. And I think that pushed out my lead to 45+seconds. When I snuck in a look as I headed for the final stretch, I couldn't make out anyone behind me.
The Well Kept Wife© and Boy® had to remain home as the Boy® had a swim meet. But my Dad had come out to see me and that was nice. One does not want to win an overall title and not have any loved ones around to witness it. I could now see him at the finish line and I began to pump my fist in triumph multiple times. Hell, at age 50 I'm not if this will ever happen again so I enjoyed the moment.
As it ends up, my margin of victory was 1:17. And you know what? I'm going to jump into as many 15K events as I can find. This is a great distance as I wish more people offered it. If you get the chance to run a 15K at some point, don't pass on it.
For my effort, I received a very nice trophy and a $20 gift certificate to my favorite running store on the planet, the Fargo Running Company. Yes, the same company whose race team I wear colors for.
What a storybook ending to a truly grueling season. I always tell the Boy® to keep working hard and good things will come out of it. And now I have proof for him.
Speaking of the Boy, he swam his very first 500-yard short-course pool swim. I had gotten back Saturday night so I was able to take him to the second day of the two-day swim meet. He did very well, getting PR's in four of his five events. But his 500-yard swim was amazing. I had drilled him for a week on swimming steady, consistent 50-yard laps around 51-seconds and he would be able to achieve a C-qualifying time of 08:30.89. He ended up swimming a 08:18.45. But look at these splits. One can't help but smile:
This was my twenty-first event of 2011. And now I will be falling off the grid while I decide how I want to approach 2012. I have a effed up right shoulder that I am going to get checked out next week. I am hoping it is not rotator cuff related as that will mean I will not have a triathlon season, and perhaps even a duathlon season, next year. I hear that repair and recovery from rotator surgery is a long process.
The shoulder has been bothering me since late June. I simply cut back my swimming, doing only enough to sustain through the tri-season. I've now completely rested it for 45-days and it doesn't feel much better.
Even outside of that, I have been toying with taking a year off from multi-sport and concentrating solely on my first love: running. Since my multi-sport season ended early this month, I have really ramped up the run mileage and been doing quite a few two-a-days. And in my first race doing so, I take home the overall title. So you can kind of guess what I'm thinking right now. 2012 will be run only. But, the winters are long and dark and I'll have a lot of time to reflect and think it through. But after twenty races in 2010 and twenty-one in 2011 I'm a little burned out on the amount of time it takes to be successful in all three elements of triathlon.
So, we'll see. I'm not sure how much I will post on the blog between now and next season, but it probably won't be much. Those who want to find me, know how. Otherwise, I'll see you all sometime in 2012. Have a safe offseason!