This is the third race in 5 weeks for me, including two other pacing gigs sandwiched inbetween. Ran 3:30 pace marathon 7 days ago. Though my summer training has been decent, my last two races didn't indicate any fitness improvement. In the 25k trail race two weeks ago, I executed poorly with a too fast start and hit the wall fairly early. This morning the execution was much better. I was aiming for around 18:00.
The race conditions were good. The course is flat and familiar in my old Lakewood neighborhood. Weather 50-ish, overcast, with some wind. After a 30 minute warm-up including a few strides and 2x 1min race pace bouts, I was ready to go.
My initial pacing was much better. The race started and my lesson from two weeks ago was forefront in my mind, so I went with the intent of holding back in mile one. After filtering through the usual kids sprinting the first 400m, I found myself about 10th after 1000m and 7th at the mile 1 in 5:38.
Terrific, I was holding back and well above my goal pace. The conditions were helping today as I found myself amidst a pack of four (places 4-7) and third not too too far ahead. By the 1.5 mile, I'm in fourth and wondering and the prospects of third OA enter the mind. I continue with the thoughts of holding back and cross mile 2 in 5:38 and 11:17 total. Do the quick math and I realize I just need to hold what I have and stay relaxed. Though the breathing was becoming more labored, I was in a great place mentally. Third place was holding his ground and 5th place guy on my shoulder. I quit thinking about place and really thought about my chances to get close to the PR of 17:44. Game was on.
The final 1.2 miles is a straightaway with no turns to impede. I fall into fifth place with about 800m to go and let him go. I tried to relax the best I could and arrived mile 3 in 5:48 and 17:06 total, sucking for air and kick the best I could for a new PR crossing the line 17:37 and 5th OA out of an estimated 200 runners.
Incredible how self-imposed pressure works. I came into my last two races (5 and 3 weeks ago) primed and thinking PRs, only to fall short. Today with no real expectations, the execution (holding back) fell right into place and nail a good one. It's a great feeling.
Great day for Andrea and I and this result restores a little confidence for my chances at a goal HM in a few weeks. Andrea's marathon prospects in two weeks are promising.
Splits: 5:39/5:38/5:48/0:31 = 17:37 PR!