Justin Mock had talked me into running this event a few weeks back, noting that Pearl Izumi was a sponsor and that I'd probably be able to get a comp entry. Well, I'm a sucker for free stuff, so enter I did. And that's how I found myself toeing the line in hopes that I'd both PR and not come Dead Freakin' Last.
Some of the faster roadies on the Front Range. All shots: Aaron Kennard. A great photo recap of the two races at Aaron's website.
Quite unusually for the Front Range, it was pretty humid out, which for us dry-air folk is probably equivalent to sea-level folk getting trucked up to 6,000' to race. Anyway, the course was a criterium style three-lapper with six 180-degree turns to negotiate; a slight uphill one way and a slight downhill the other.
I stayed with the lead pack for, oh, 10 seconds and then started to feel the burn in my quads from the effort on Longs yesterday. The race was quickly beginning to register a very low reading on the fun meter. Not a zero, but close. Within a quarter mile I had assumed a position three or four from the back of the field of ~20 and proceeded to hold that for the duration.
The fourth-best burro racer in the world appeared to be running well and he was up on my shoulder for the first half of the race. We switched positions a couple of times, but other than that I was well and truly locked into place. I'm not quite sure why, but the women's race went out a minute after the men's race, and given that there were a couple of Olympians running, there was a not-unrealistic chance that I would get caught from behind. That didn't happen, which on a technicality means I am still yet to be chicked this year.
Some very fast ladies: Benita Willis (Aus record holder 2k, 3k, 5k, 10k, marathon), Nuta Olaru (Rom, 12th in 2004 Olympic marathon), Fiona Docherty (NZ, World Trail Running Champ, 2:37 London), Nan Kennard (Local speedster looking to qualify for 2012 Olympic trials at the Batimore Marathon this fall), Michelle Suszeck (another fast local runner).
With no mile markers, it was hard to get a read on pacing but I knew that I was mainly fading - as is typical for me in 5ks - so I was surprised to see the clock just tick over to 17:00 as I hit the finish chute. I finished in 17:06, although I wasn't surprised to learn from the Garmin-adorned runners that the course was a bit short (between 3.01 & 3.07).
I guess the secret to running faster road times is to actually run fast in training, but that doesn't sound much like fun, so I guess the running fast thing will have to wait. Maybe next year. In the meantime, I'm off to the Wasatch Mountains on Saturday to run at a very slow pace for 5 - 6 hours over the course of 31 miles and ~12,000 feet of elevation gain. Gimme a race and I'll run it.