This is my second of three races in 15 days. Going into this period already feeling a bit drained, I didn't run the first race all-out. This one, I wanted to run at least a little harder but I wasn't sure how much I wanted to open it up because my next race is the big one, where I know I will be facing runners who are better than me and equal to me in ability and I'll have to be at my best. I was thinking of that sub-17 mark that I for a few reasons haven't reached this year but there was a catch. It was once again a windy day. Did I really want to battle the wind for a sub-17 or would I be better off sitting back a bit even if that meant not breaking 17 minutes? I decided to go harder than last weekend but not quite all-out. If sub-17 didn't come, so be it.
With a wind out of the north and most of the first mile-plus going directly north, I knew that's where most of my time was going to be lost. Then, after a bit of looping around, I'd get most of a little less than the final mile with the wind at my back. That would be an opportunity to gain back some time. With that in mind and the knowledge that last year, my mile split seemed off (long) I wasn't worried about what I was going to hear for splits. I knew I might hear a number that doesn't seem right.
At the start of this race, I'm usually in the lead from the first step and, by 50 yards or less, essentially running by myself. This time, though, I was a bit surprised that I heard a couple of people behind me. Am I going to have competition this time? That might change my race strategy a bit. It didn't take long, though, until I was running by myself and, after a couple of early turns, into the wind.
I pushed through the wind but didn't kill myself into it. As I cruised through the "mile" split, I heard a 5:49. Confident that this wasn't accurate, I wasn't concerned. No, I wasn't going to run 18 minutes here. I was about to get out of the headwind and I was very confident that this was longer than a mile. I just kept plugging away, going hard but not quite red lining. I cruised through the second mile before hearing a "2 mile" split that was probably closer to the actual 2 mile location, 11:09. Still not great but not bad. Shortly after that, I turned into the stretch that would give me a tailwind and opened up the stride a bit. As I approached the area where the walkers were going through on the other side of the street, I began hearing a few people cheering my name, a nice pick-up as I was getting a little fatigued. That helped carry me through into a series of turns over the last 1/4 mile or so. Once into those turns, I know it's time for me to turn it up whenever possible. I did that to some extent, though not opening it completely up, and cruised through the finish line in 16:53.
1st in 16:53. Second and third were the top 2 ladies, one in the 18:50s and the other in the 19:00s. A nice battle between the two.
Of course, those of you who know me know that this one isn't necessarily about the race, though I do like to get after a fast time when running there. This is a race that was started to remember family and friends who have left us too soon. Since 2002, that means I've been running this one for Jamie. One of the reasons I like to run well there is to honor Jamie. While this wasn't as fast as I've gone there, not even as fast as my recent times there, it was a good effort that I think was a respectable honoring of Jamie.
Next up, the big one: Al's Run. Hopefully, I will be able to get my legs a bit more under me and I'll be ready to find that final gear and get a good showing in, both for the InStep/Hillrunner.com team and to have a good conclusion to my official 2010 racing season (there may be one more 2010 race for me but I'll be looking at it more as an early beginning to my 2011 season if I do it).