I think it's pretty much well known by now that I was going into this race tired and a bit worried about how the tired legs would respond to another race effort. I got through the two 5K races decently but even the faster of the two was still a fair bit slower than I normally run at that one and a 5K is still a bit different than an 8K.
I met up with Charlene, a new team member, at my place bright and early in the morning and we headed into the Pettit to pick up Jeremy and Rick. Once picking them up, we headed in and got there plenty early to ensure we wouldn't have to worry about freeway ramps and streets closing for the race (which they begin closing well in advance of the race). We walked about 5 blocks to the team meeting area and found Ed waiting inside so we hung out in there. Kyle came along shortly after and, knowing that Robin would likely be warming up separately, we had the whole team that I was expecting together far earlier than I'm normally used to. I actually had some time to sit back and relax without worrying about when everyone would arrive, which was nice.
We headed out for our team warmup about 35-40 minutes pre-race and went a bit longer than I'm used to but that was probably good, I needed plenty of easy running to get my legs ready for the race effort. I stopped by the car on the way back to change into my racing gear, then met back up with the team to complete the warmup. I saw Robin near the start line and knew our team was complete (or as complete as it would be on this day). Now, time to focus on my race.
I did a few strides and some loosening up, which helped but also made me more concerned than I already was. I was feeling some pretty bad tightness in my hips and I couldn't seem to loosen it up.
The start line is on Wisconsin Ave, a main road through the Marquette campus and the middle of downtown Milwaukee. The start line actually goes across both sides of the median. I ended up making my way to the left side and saw Corina over there. We said hi, I told her how happy I was to see her come back from such a difficult injury in fairly quick time to still pull off a top 15 finish at Lakefront and especially to hear that the marathon didn't aggrivate the injury. We said a few words, then it was time to line up.
At the gun, I realized pretty quickly that I picked the slow side of the road to start on. There was a good pack out in front of me on the right side of the road but, on my side, I was in second in the real early going before another runner bolted by, putting me in third on that side. After a few blocks, though, the median ended and we were all together. The two runners from my side faded and I was left with the pack from the far side of the road.
I pretty quickly found Kyle and Jeremy running pretty close to me. We shuffled around a bit but I recall looking shortly before the mile mark and seeing Jeremy just to my left and Kyle just to Jeremy's left. Seeing that, I felt pretty good about our team prospects. That's lining up for a pretty solid 1-3 finish. At the mile, Kyle was just slightly ahead of us but Jeremy was still right there with me. The mile split seemed to come up earlier than I recalled it, though, and the 5:22-5:23 that I went through in didn't seem quite right. I said something to Jeremy to not worry about it and we continued on our way.
At about a mile and a quarter, we turn to the left and head up toward the north shore area. I was a bit surprised at this point because I still saw the lead vehicles. I knew I wasn't running terribly fast this year and, even when I am running fast, I can't recall ever seeing the lead vehicles at this point. The leaders really aren't getting out very fast. That was a bit of a good feeling. Shortly after, though, my first bad feeling hit. I began feeling my leg leg tightening up near the back of the groin/inner hamstring reaging right up by the hip. I tried to work my way through it but eventually started falling off from Jeremy a little. I did all I could to keep him in reach through miles 2 and 3, hoping that the hip would loosen up again and allow me to get back up to work with him. In mile 3, though, the right leg started feeling the same thing in the same place. Not quite as bad as the left but still there. I tried to stretch the legs out some on the downhill going into the 3 mile mark but it didn't work out.
As I hit the 3 mile mark, I reminded myself that I've always considered mile 4 the make or break mile of this race. I tried hard to close in on Jeremy. At times, I gained a few steps on him only to see him pull back away. The hips, especially the left, were getting worse through this mile, also. Things just weren't going my way but I was still third man for the team, my team was counting on me. I could feel my knee lift dropping as my hips tightened up but I tried to focus on driving hard in the back stroke and picking up my tempo.
As I approached the 4 mile mark, I heard some guys coming up behind me. Just before the 4 mile mark, someone (I think Jeremy Burks) passed me. Just after, Andy Ruffalo went by and someone else tried going by with him. My first thought was what is it with Ruffalo? He did the same thing to me at Fish Day when he's supposed to be well ahead of me, even if I'm having a good day. I held off the other guy and got him back behind me and thought this is my chance to beat Ruffalo. I worked on him hard. He got about 10 yards on me but, with about 1/2 mile to go, I closed it back into a couple of steps. With about 1/4 mile to go, though, he found another gear and, with my hips still bothering me, I didn't have another gear. I did all I could to keep him as close as possible but he pulled away with ease.
Around the final turn and pushing as hard as I could with little to no knee lift, I came through the finsh line about 5-10 seconds behind Ruffalo. At least I held off the other guy who tried to pass me with Ruffalo.
I've already posted a little about the results. 29th across the finish line, 30th in the improperly handled official results, 29:08. The guy I held off didn't bother getting a seeded bib and, as a result, ended up lining up where he shouldn't have been. I got punished for getting the seeded bib and lining up where I belonged. In all honesty, though, no matter what the results say, I know I was 29th across the finish line.
Team results were closer than I like them to be but I better get used to this. I'm sure we're going to have tight battles against the PRO team from here on out.
As a review, here are the team results:
28:29 28:43 29:08 31:47 32:17 = 2:30:24
KYLE UDOVICH, JEREMY DUSS, RYAN HILL, RICK SMITH, CHARLENE LARSON
2. PERFORMANCE RUNNING OUTFITTERS
26:17 27:31 33:05 33:31 34:55 = 2:35:19
CAMERON AUSEN, JAMES DAUL, GARY DOBRZYNSKI, JULIE FANGMANN, LAURA
Robin Treder and Ed Pankow were the final two finishers for our team. Thanks again to everyone who joined us this year. I hope to see you all there again next year, along with some new and old faces who couldn't be with us this year.