Race morning dawns, and I'm not feeling quite as good as I was 2 weeks prior, but like I said then, we've all had good races on days we don't feel great, & vice-versa, so I didn't pay too much attention. After a couple mile warm-up, I made my way back to the start to be sure Hannah didn't get trampelled in the quarter mile. That grin you see on her face was there the whole time. Sorry...no splits! After that, Kirk and I ran another mile and a half, and got back to the line in time for the National Anthem, and then we were off.
Or should I say Jeff (Huxhold) was off. This would be him with a 10 yard gap in the entire field...100 meters into the race!! That gap would continue to grow for the first couple minutes of the race. I don't know if everybody thought the race was now for 2nd place, but I know the thought at least crossed my mind. The dude was flying.
Anyhoo, we settled into a pace, and Jeff had at least a 30 meter lead (on everyone!) less than a half mile in. The pace felt hard, but I couldn't tell yet if it was just preceived effort, or the actual pace, so Paul Smith, Steve Schenck, & I continued to shadow Jeff a few seconds off his pace, while pulling away from the rest of the field. I'd trade back and forth with Steve for 3rd & 4th place, running in 2nd only briefly for a few seconds during the first half of the race. I knew everybody up front to be experienced runners, and that it would be a battle. But I also knew if I could stick close to Paul, the defending champ, I'd be under 16:00. Paul got to Jeff first, just about half way, then myself, with Steve right behind me. Steve would pass me too, and I settled in and tried to hold the pace. The three of us had run a 4:56-4:57 first mile, which was too fast, in order to keep Jeff close (he was probably closer to 4:51-4:52!) and I'd pay for that little mistake the rest of the way, as the pace hurt earlier than it should in a 5k. No even splits like two weeks ago...not with a first mile under 5. I held on for a 5:11 second mile and a 10:08 split, but was flat out hurting by then. Mile three was tough, but I knew I had to keep contact to run a good time. I thought for just a second I may even be able to get by Steve at the very end (see Zoo Zoom 10k in April) but no dice this time. I managed to speed up a tiny bit after the three mile mark (5:14-15:22) but it wasn't enough. I finished less than 7 seconds off Paul, and a second-and-a-half behind Steve, in 3rd place, with a time of 15:51.5 (my third fastest 5k race...5 seconds off my best). I was happy with the time, but can't help thinking what might have been if I'd gone out just 5 or 6 seconds slower. Would it have been enough to take a few seconds off each of the remaining miles? I'll never know, but I'll sure wonder. Jeff held on close behind me for 4th overall in 16:00.0. Kirk pretty much made the same mistake we had...starting too fast, and paying for it over the second half...and finished 11th in 17:13 after a 5:11(?) first mile. We ran the course again too cool-down, while the kids played in the bounce house. I ended up with a 15:44 age-graded (which works out to a 82.03). I actually leapfrogged Steve S in the age-graded race, and got a plaque and microfiber shirt for the 16th place graded finish. Barbara Miller once again destroyed everyone, running under 24 minutes...at age 70!...Steve Bond ran a super fast 5k in 19:11...and Ron Gross crashed the party as well, with his highest graded finish in this race.
We lucked out with a noon check-out at the hotel as well, so we headed back there afterwards for another hour or so in the pool & hot tub before driving over the hill, which made the adults & kids very happy, and very sleepy.
Next up (probably) is a slight taper this week. Last week was again my highest in 2 years at 81.2! This week I'll shoot for 70, and lift less weights as well, just to see if I respond well. If not, I might as well be running 80, right ;)
After the taper, a likely trip to Sonoma for Hit the Road Jack. I'd like to go after the course record of 11:12 for the 2.2 miler, but I have no idea if the course is hilly, or even accurate. Don't worry, though. I'll keep ya posted.