I am also running three races in 3 weeks -- though for me, this is the first race in that stretch.
On Thursday/Friday, I had a bit of a scare as the knee problem that I've been having flared up again. On Thursday, I walked part of the way home from work and on Friday, I only ran the first half mile to work before I returned home and asked my wife for a ride. Though my wife thought it was a bad idea, I decided to make whether or not to race a race day decision. The last time my knee flared up, I pushed it a bit farther and harder, and I recovered after a two day rest. I felt I could probably recover enough to race before Saturday morning.
We are a single-car family and we had a conflict where Pamela needed the van to take her horse to a vet appointment and I would not return from the race in time for her to get to her appointment. It's much easier to find a ride for a human, so I found a ride with my mom. Thanks, Mom for getting up so early on a cold, windy morning. On race day, I ran an easy mile before leaving for the race because if that didn't go well, I would not even go to the race. Everything went well on that run, so I didn't have to call my mom and tell her to go back to bed. She showed up a short time later and we headed for the race.
The first thing that I noticed when we arrived was the wind and it was cold. I forget how sheltered our house is from the wind until I get out of my car at another location. I will have to remember to dress warmer or at least bring warmer clothes for my next race. My warm up went well -- though I cut it back a bit because I didn't want to leave my race in the warm up. I was still concerned about my knee. I feel that volume affects my knee more so than intensity. So, I just warmed up until I didn't feel cold -- probably another mile. The only confusion on the course was where we would start. The finish was clearly marked, but there was no clear starting point. It turns out that the start and finish line were the same. Word was quickly passed and we began to assemble. At the start, I was standing near two twenty-something guys -- one wearing a KU singlet -- and from hearing their discussion, I knew that both of them had been running for KU until recently. I had also noticed a guy wearing a singlet from a local running store whom I recognized as one of the faster runners in the area though I didn't know his name. So, an overall win would be unlikely, but I could still achieve my goal of winning my age group and moving one step closer to winning a grand prix title.
The race started and the two KU guys headed out together -- apparently still engrossed in their conversation.I settled in around 5th initially, but the guy that I had settled behind began to slow and I went around him. In the first mile, a friend of mine in a higher age group pulled even with me or a couple of strides ahead, but when third place started to pull away, I went with him, but stayed a few steps behind. The two KU guys were gradually pulling away, and I settled into fourth place. At about halfway, I was passed by a guy wearing what appeared to be a KC Smoke
uniform. I stayed near for awhile, but he and the guy in third began to pull away after mile 2. Though the KC Smoke guy looked like he might be near 40, I decided not to push too hard at that point. Shortly after mile 2, I took a quick glance over my shoulder as I rounded a corner and saw that fifth place was a bit closer than I would like. About 1/2 mile from the finish was the largest hill on the course. It was fairly steep, but not especially long. I pushed over it and the rest of the course was down hill. There were a few walkers on the course who were completing the 1 mile walk, but not so many that they obstructed the road in any way. I pushed down the gradual incline to finish in fifth place in 17:30. Sixth place was much farther back than I expected after my glance back at mile 2, so either I finished fairly strong or he faded or both.
I won my age group and scored my grand prix points. 17:30 felt fairly comfortable which bodes well for the next races. I will have another 5K and a half marathon in the next two weeks. It will be interesting to see how it goes -- especially the half marathon since I have cut my mileage to try to stay healthy. During my cooldown, I felt like my knee might start troubling me and I cut the cooldown short. So, I still have concerns, but I am hopeful for the next two races. They are both grand prix races and it will be a tight race if my nearest competition also runs them.