These race reports will be coming out of order for a while. 6 days before I ran the Feed the Need 5K, it was a cool but sunny Sunday morning in Hammonassett.
I always look forward to Brian's, not because I've won the race- I'm pretty sure those days are gone- but because I like duathlons and this one supports Myelin research and is put on by some great people. I had a new bike this year too, so expectations were a little higher- on the other hand, with the long running I've been doing helping Maureen prepare for Boston runs of up to 22 miles), it was suggested to me that I hadn't seriously or properly trained for the race.
I had put about 100 road miles on the mountain bike, including riding it out to Madison and then posting up a stinker at the Madison 5 miler (30:18). So I had a brick under my belt, but nothing to write home about and I hadn't raced on a bike since Florida in November.
I rode about 3 miles warm up, on the sand towards Meigs Point and the road back to the start. It was cold and I had on riding gloves, and they seemed like the right call. Until I started doing strides to continue my warmup. I go through this every year- the gloves are perfect for the bike but too hot for the run. I've run with them and gotten so overheated I toss them off at the end of the run and then suffer.
It seems like a small thing, but these are the small things you obsess about before your first multi-sport race of the season. So I looked at the tope men there, I looked at Coach Kelli. They were all wearing gloves like mine so I decided to stop worrying about it.
The race is different each year, depending on how many pure runners are there. Some years a large pack bolts out at the start of the race, making thing difficult, other years, most of the athletes seem to understand they are at a duathlon and you can't just blow up the first 2 mile run. This was one of those years were no one really went out and ran above their ability level.
That is to say, two of the guys were crazy good- the race winner was Yale and a guy that's run on Hitek USATF team, and they took off right away, leaving Dave Ellis, myself, a guy named Graham and one or two others running in the B group. And Kelli Montgomery, initially. I wasn't really sure exactly what Kelli was doing as I watched her running ahead of me. I thought it was an aggressive first run for her, and imagined that she would fade, still, I put in a little bit extra to pass her.
We got out on the back part of the run and I have to say that it felt good. I was worried that it was going to feel extremely hard running like that. But it didn't. I felt good- ready to get on the bike. But I have to say in the bike of my mind I'd heard a lot of chatter about the sand and I was thinking about it as I ran in 5th on the 1st run.
I'd decided to go with bike shoes this year and the change was quick and easy.
I made it out of transition no problem. And then, within 30 seconds, my race was off the rails. There was a lot of sand on the course, and I tried to dodge some. Instead I went right into it and as I tried to torque my way out I threw the chain off front ring. This was not a good thing. Assuming it was the back ring I tried to reset it without getting off. Between the wasted time trying to torque it back on and the time actually getting off and resetting it, I lost 30 seconds, lost any contact with the guys in front of me, got passed. I was then tentative all the way to Meig's point, after which I was on the road. I was able to attack again on the road and claw my way back into 5th from 7th.
Then we got in the woods and I dropped a place again. I was on the aerobars almost the whole time- that's just how I ride. If it's flat grass, well then, why not stay efficient. I did pass the guy that was second on the first run and if was a tiny bit tentative, he was flat out tentative.
The worst part of the course for the sand was the very back of the course, just before transition. The sand was deep and I kind of had to baby my way through it. Then I was riding by transition.
My second loop was definitely better than my first. I lost a little ground out to Meig's Point, absolutely screened my way down the road to the woods, and then lost only one place again the entire way back. However, when I got close to transition on my second loop, I was coming up on people who were just completing their first loop, and some of them had gotten off their bikes and were walking. This pretty well sucked, trying to pick my way through the heaviest sand on the course, riding, while other people were walking, and not leaving much of a hole.
I still managed 5th on the bike, but I've been fastest bike there on maybe 2-3 occasions, and this was not one of those days. I give my bike effort low marks.
I came into transition, swapped my shoes for my running shoes, and headed out. Graham was just ahead of me, maybe 5 or 6 seconds, and that was nice to be honest.
The second run at Brian's is a monster. It's dead flat, it's two miles, and except for the twists and turns it's super easy. But, if you went hard on the bike, you're shelled. When you go out on the run alone, and I've done that both leading and not leading the race, you don't run well. I had a man to chase down and that was incentive.
I worked the catch patiently. I knew my only options were 5th place or 6th place and I wanted fifth, so I took my time and made the pass when it made sense to do it, and then I tightened the screws and ran as hard as I could. For the next mile I felt pretty confident, but about half a mile from the finish I started regretting not taking a gel at the start of the run.
The wheels did not come off, but they sure as hell wobbled a lot. That last half mile was hard work. But I got the gap I needed and inched out Graeme by a mere 17 seconds. I have a feeling that once he gets into full race shape, he's the one that will be inching me out at races (or maybe yarding me out).
Despite the bike mishap I cut 36 seconds off last year- trimming 12 off the run and 24 off the bike. I could have cut a full minute off the bike I think.
After the race I had a chance to talk to the race winner and Graeme, among others, and I have to say, this race might be small, but it draws some fast guys and a lot of nice people, all supporting a great cause.
I really love this race...