Another cold day race. As I warmed up I debated stripping off the tights but decided against it. It was pretty cold and raw, after all, and I still was pretty lightly dressed. Then I saw Charlie Hornak in shorts and thought to myself 'Oh man, I'm a wuss.'
Before the race I was joking with Charlie and Tim Cote that we were the only three that actually wanted to race. No one else was actually at the starting line except us. Then suddenly, at the last possible moment, out came the horde. I've never understood this. If it's cold out, you'd better get outside and acclimate...
Pretty soon everyone was organized and off we went. I picked on Rob Baker right away, he was off to the right, and lined-up on him. There were five or six guys really in front of us as we started out, plus a few kids everyone knew wouldn't last.
The race starts out on a downhill, and it's a steady, fast downhill, not steep, but you are running fast. I could tell I was in for a long four miles of battling with people. I was just trying to hold my own as we hit the turn and then really went downhill. It was quickly clear that four or five of the guys were just going to run away and there was nothing to do about it. Then we hit the first uphill and I settled in and tried to run at 90%. Keep climbing, but pushing hills early is a surefire way to lose whatever place you should be able to hold.
At the top of the hill you hook and left and it's flat and this part of the course is kind of like a flat section in the Winter Wonderland race. It doesn't last though and you're climbing again, a shorter but steep climb. Tim, Rob and I had settled in to running together and there was some give and take between us with no one really getting an edge. At the top of the climb it's a right and then it's flat again.
I was having trouble keeping contact here and everyone was taking short pulls off the front. Rob and Tim almost collided at one point and then I saw the water table up ahead. I wanted to get in front of them and do the same thing I'd done last year, which was grab the water and dump it over my head to be intimidating.
I know. Silly.
I couldn't get out of third position. I still took the water and dumped it over my head. It's what I do.
I wasn't done yet.
We were still jockeying and then we took one more turn and we were finally back on a downhill, and it's a doozy. We took turns leading down the hills and were a tight pack as we turned left and ran through a flat section. We were tight, there was some very minimal arm bumps with apologies (mine, I believe), and we took the final turn that takes you to the biggest hill.
It's actually downhill first before the big uphill and both Tim and Rob pushed it here.
I was waiting for the hill and went into it behind both of them. I climbed as hard and as fast as I could, but I still felt like I was almost walking towards the top (I wasn't). We came over the top and I tried and tried to push as we went into the downhill.
I still felt like I could catch them as we bottomed out, took the last right onto the main road, and ran as hard as we could. But it was a mistake to ever let the two of them get a gap. Working off each other while I worked alone 4 seconds became 6, then 8, then 10.
I ran a decent race, I challenged tactically and repeatedly, but I just didn't have the speed or the endurance to take either of them. I felt like Rob ran a real solid and steady race, and Tim is looking like he's going to have a great triathlon season.
I was disappointed that I didn't run faster (24:46 or so) or place higher (9th). But I did win my age group and Margit and I won our combined age group and were a top 5 couple.
Not too bad.
But I have a lot of work to do.