No one was more surprised when I told him that I had not run a road race since last December than Ken Platt, who'd timed both that race- Christopher Martin's, and this one, the Washington Trails 10k.
in the interim I'd done 3 duathlons and an Ironman, and I have a half-ironman coming in two weeks. On Saturday I'd done a very hard two hour ride, 40 minute run brick, and yesterday I'd done an extremely hilly two hour ride, leaving my calves sore.
Washington Trails is a tough race. I regularly ride the course as part of my longer, hillier rides. It's also a race that I've had some decent results at- a pair of fifth and then back to back third places the last two years, but I never know who is going to show up at the race and kick my ass. There's almost always a local favourite/college division I all-american or other top runner, Chris Schulten or some other top-notch guy. This year was no exception.
While warming up I ran across Dave Pantin, Chris Dickerson, and Mike Gulay, who wasn't, it turned out, there to run. Even John Bysiewicz was there, talking large to Chris. We were joking about letting JB carry us up the first hill, but as I hadn't raced in 6 months, I should have known what would happen.
When the cannon went off, the kids took off, and full of adreneline, I chased them down. Halfway up the first hill, I took the lead, humped over the hill, and turned onto 17 (79?). I was running hard, really hard, but I was also hoping someone, anyone with more brains than me would catch me and allow me to back off. I mean, I knew I was running too fast, but for the second time in eight days I was following the pace car so I had to just keep plowing along, the old man leading out the college kids in hid custom kit, working too hard to even put on the tunes.
Finally, mercifully, two college kids ran me down just shy of the one mile mark and I went through at a totally sick 5:44 on a course I would never run under sixes. I turned the corner and started to wonder when Chris Dickerson would catch me. That didn't happen until well after two miles. Chris is the most awesome guy- he always has a word or words of encouragement as he drops me, never chiding me for going out too hard.
We schleped up more hills, and by the 5k mark, I'd dropped to 6th and I was hurting, but I was still running pretty strong. I got passed for the last time after the big downhill that takes you through four miles and I neither ran down the last guy in range nor did I get caught by Dave Pantin. It was a great day for a race- hot, sunny, and humid, just how I like it. I even took a power gel at about 5 miles and I think it really helped carry me to the finish, sore calves and all.
I've run faster there, finished higher up than 7th, but for my first road race of 2007, I'll take my medal and work on recovering, and I certainly feel like I ran well.