This is one of those races that feels like I've done it more than I really have. In reality, this would only be my second time racing (and first time in the 5k) after placing 2nd in the 10k in 2010. But, I've come twice to watch TLD run here, and came with Turi to pace him in the half last year. So I feel I'm pretty familiar with the layout and the area. So imagine my surprise when I found out there was a bottle shop just west of the course that I never knew about til this year. Or the pizza place next door. Needless to say, we went to both, and both are worthy. A special shout out to Woodstock's Pizza staff for not only opening the doors early, but for making us two kick-ass pizzas, with great service to boot!
The weather looked like it was going to cooperate this time around...no driving through, or running in, any precipitation. Right around 40 degrees or so at the start with a light breeze. I got to watch Charlie, Fred, Mannie & Co. start the half/10k while I was warming up, and all three finished in the top 7 in their respective races. Way to represent Reno/Sparks, guys! The 10k winner was also from Reno! All of those miles 4500 feet+ above sea level must be helping, right? Anyway, we stayed a few blocks from the start, which a man like me, with my oh-so-delicate bowels and all, could get really used to. No porta potty lines for the 2nd race in a row, just a quick jog over to the hotel lobby, drop off the kids, change shoes, and I'm ready to go. They were a few minutes behind in starting, but otherwise the race went off without a hitch. New course, but it was dead on overall, and well marked. The only hick-up was that the first mile marker was a little long (the 2nd was a little short, therefore, to be accurately 2 miles, which it was). No big deal, just caused a mini-panic for a couple minutes til we figured it out :)
There's often some young guns that start road races at the front, and inevitably fade a couple minutes in. This race was unique in that were more of them than usual, and they kept it up for longer than usual. Just before the half mile, I turned to a fellow runner and said "didn't know we had some Kenyans in the field". He responded with a knowing smile, and would go on to beat every single one of them by a substantial margin. He and I started in 9th & 10th, respectively, and began picking people off about 4 minutes in. I had moved up to 3rd by the mile marker, finally passing the kid who had a 40 yeard lead on the field a minute-and-a-half into the race. We had a tight pack of three at this point, and ran about a 5:15 for mile 1. Right on pace for my last couple time trials. I was hoping that the drop to sea level and the lighter shoes would cancel out the fact that I'd done my time trials on the treadmill.
So far so good. 7 minutes in, I'm maintaining contact with 2nd place but 1st (Matthew, who started 9th) has started to put a nice gap on us. Can't hear anyone behind me. Lots of easy turns, but no 180's, which was nice. Mile 2, 10:34. Slowed a little, but that could be the course. Still maintaining contact. 1st place out of the question unless something abnormal happens, but we're in a dogfight for 2nd. Running pretty even, I, for the first time, pull up to the side of my competitor with 3/4 mile to go...maaaaybe get a half step ahead. We trade back and forth a couple times, go under the road and back up, he gets a couple strides ahead, but I know the end of this course well, and time my kick. Mark Hicks is there at mile 6 (10k) for some encouragement. I've pulled even again, and as soon as we make the last turn for home (200-250m) I give it all I've got and take off. I wouldn't learn until hours later that I'd put over a 5 second gap in there in less than .2 miles. The finish (and my overall time of 16:23) were almost exactly like I'd imagined, except for Matthew 14 seconds in front of me in 16:09. He ran a great race for the win (dead even splits most like) and there's nothing I could have done different to make up that kind of gap, so I was happy, and congrats to him for his 2nd Stampede win in the last 3 years!
It's funny how te little things can make a big difference. Several days later, my calves are still in knots, and likely wouldn't have been at all if I hadn't had to sprint at the end. But, I had a very specific time in mind, though, so I needed that sprint to not only secure 2nd, but to run an age graded 80 (16:26)...my first since last summer. Not sure what's next. I'm really looking forward to the Bidwell Classic in 4 weeks, and I'm hoping to be closer to 16 minutes by then. It's another flat, fast course. In the meantime, I may run the You Gotta Be Crazy 10k* (6.4m) in Verdi in a couple weeks, and then decide between the Fresh Tracks Snowshoe 5k and the Getty Owl Runs in Sac on the 26th.
No pics from Abby (ok I lied, there's one)- Rocco made sure she had her hands full all morning :)
Congrats to everyone who finished a Stampede over the weekend, and I hope to see you all again soon.
GIANTS WIN!!! GIANTS WIN!!! GIANTS WIN!!!
5K RESULTS: http://changeofpace.com/Results/DS2012/5Kover.htm