It did end up being a windy evening, not too hot thankfully, but when the sun peaked out it was noticeable.
At the starting line I noticed #17 was DNS (I was #18), and he was the one guy who I knew was fast, now I had no idea. And apparently no one else did either as everyone was hesitant off the line waiting for someone to take the lead. So the first lap was super slow but then the Drake coach (older unattached) apparently decided to take over. I was surprised that he immediately went sub-80's for a mile, as I knew he wasn't keeping those up (he would eventually drop out).
He led for 5 or 6 laps before the pace started to drop and a Truman kid took over. This whole time I was pretty much hanging out 5th in a lead group of 5, so I didn't notice that suddenly 2 guys had broken away from the front (or more accurately, 3rd place had slowed considerably). I debated internally for half a lap before given chase and catching them in 400m.
However, my pick-up in pace was really just maintaining what we had been doing (80), and once I started drafting again, the pace started to slow. So after catching my breath drafting for a few laps, I decided to see what the 5k split would be. For a second I thought it would be low 16's, only to remember I was still 200m short of 5k. So as we approached 5k (16:53), I instantly decided I was going to have to take over the pace if I wanted to negative split.
I probably took off too hard (ran a 79) and instead could have just eased down the pace, but it was soon clear no one was easily sticking with me so I guess it's not like I would be working with anyone. Unfortunately, as I was no longer drafting, I soon became aware of how mean the wind was; I noticeably buckled down every homestretch just to maintain pace. Just 3 laps into leading on my own (with 9 to go), I was questioning whether I could finish without significantly slowing (an upset stomach was also striking at this time).
I tried to just count down the laps and focus on seeing Drew every lap and Hero&Hazard every lap (thanks guys). The good news was that each lap hurt the same, it wasn't getting worse. I also listened to the announcer, waiting for him to say who was making a move. Thankfully I never looked back as I had apparently garnered a 100m lead and the fear of getting passed had prevented me from slowing down quite a bit.
With 2 laps to go, people were cheering for me to break 34. Of course this wasn't motivating as I was hoping to run a minute faster. Still I closed hard for a good last lap.
Pros: First race ever at Drake stadium and I came away with a victory, not to mention a free t-shirt. I'm also happy I never slowed too much my last 2 miles.
Cons: Slow time, and slower than my road 10k a month ago. So maybe the road 10k was short? Or can I blame it all on the wind?
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