Finally, my 3rd race of the season.
I have to say, I really wasn't looking forward to this. When you race as seldom as I have this year, the idea of stepping out and running a 5 mile road race on a Sunday morning when I should probably have been running for two hours. After all, I have a marathon to run in June.
I got there with my son Ian in tow, and I'd managed to convince him to actually run the kid's race. That was great. Ian has been all over the map about fun runs and probably the best part of the whole experience to hear him still saying later that day that he a) wanted to run more fun runs, and b) it would make him in better shape. Getting him ready and signed in and handing him off cut my warmup down, however, it was worth it to have him out there (out in the back, to be honest) and running- and enjoying it.
I got my warm-up in and then I was standing at the line talking to Maureen Terwilliger and Martha Merz. Yes, the Martha that was in DC is now back in CT. We were all downplaying how well we were or weren't going to run.
Ken PLatt came up to me before the race and asked me if I was planning to swing my number round from back to front. If you know me, you know this is a pet peeve. One of the reasons that I hate the B tag is that it is supposed to be worn on the chest in fromt of the body. When are the people who make these things realise that a good portion of us would be caught dead before we'd drive four pins through a singlet we've paid more for than we pay for our clothing. (Disclosure: I spent more on training gear last year than actual clothing. I know. Lame, right ?)
I did indeed swing my race belt round to the front.
And then we were off.
As I get- more experienced (read older)- I get more frustrated with young kids that bolt out at the start of a race. I know, it's youthful exuberance. It's also silly. I can see it in a 5K, but we're talking about a 5 mile road race. I expect a little discretion but of course that never happens. The kids go nuts and you are left trying to figure out which ones are bat-shit crazy and which one or two are going to eat your lunch and make you look like the aging man you really are.
I know every inch of the course. There's one short loop on the way out that isn't part of most of our rides or the Madison Triathlon, but not much.
It was clear from the get go that two of the guys were simply going to crush me. Somehow I managed to move up from 15th to 3rd- briefly- at about half a mile. But I could hear two guys behind me and as I made a left hand turn about a mile in they were pretty much on top of me....
Given the shape I was in at the time, I knew better than to try and get into a back and forth 20% into a race. I let them go and concentrated on what Eric says 'My job is to do my job.'
Maureen was close behind me, but she wasn't really pushing, which was good. We got out along the sea wall and of course it was cold and the wind was blowing in, but not that hard. The run out to end of the loop was pretty uneventful. We down two blocks and then cut back in, dropping back down on the road that we had been going out on (think a lollipop with a little candy top) and that's when things got really interesting.
The people coming out were all over the road, and I had tow guys and Maureen close behind. Now this is the same road along the seawall in Madison I ride on all the time and I know every twist and turn of it, but we were running against the meat of the pack, who were about 1/4 to 1/2 a mile behind us.
Me being me, I went on the offensive, basically picking my line and challenging anyone who really wanted to dance to not move. Everyone moved. I worked us all the way over to the right on the tangent, and then as we headed to that small bridge over the fen, which is a nice wide arc, I decided to switch the side of the road. It was the right time to make the move, and we easily negotiated the traffic.
One guy who had been pushing me from behind was right on top of me now and I went to the middle of the road because it was safer, if not the best tangent. At one point a car got on the course but he wisely stopped so we could get by and then I got passed for the last time in the race.
I was sure another guy and Maureen were going to pass me as we made the left-hand turn, but they didn't, and now I was starting to feel the effect of racing something longer than a 5k, especially after riding nearly 3 hours the day before.
We made the right and the next left and that's the home stretch- we were headed home now, running past the golf course, and all I could do was run my ass off with two people bearing down on me the whole time. I just wasn't going to give any ground though and I ended up beating the guy behind me, and winning my age group, by 3 seconds, and Maureen came in a few seconds after that.
I was glad to win my age group and finish 5th or whatever. But the funny thing is, the warm-down after the race was really better than the race itself. Running a 5 mile road race is not going to help me reach my goals. I went back out with Martha and took her through the Madison Triathlon 5k run. We ran it pretty hard and doing that after a short break was even better than the post-race beer. It made me feel like I hadn't, I don't know, wasted a Sunday run with a short race.
That's pretty out of the box thinking for me...