Walleye Run 5 mile
First, I'll start with registration for a moment. By pre-registering, I was able to select the no shirt option and pay only $7 to register. I was also able to register Shayla with no shirt (it's either going to come down to her knees or she's going to outgrow it in 3 months anyway) for free. So two registrations, $7. More races should go this no frills, low price route in my opinion. People say no frills races won't get turnout but this had better turnout than many $20-25 minimum events with all the wasteful frills.
Anyway, on to race day. Given the chances of nice weather in early June (pretty high) and the fact that there is a festival that this race is tied into, giving some fun family things to do, as well as the free kids run, we decided to make it a family event. So Lisa, Shayla and I pulled into Fond du Lac a little before 7:00 for the 8:10 race on a not so beautiful (for the family) morning with temps in the low 50s, heavy clouds, and a damp chill in the air. We walked through some of the festival grounds, noting things that would normally make this day a fun day for the whole family, then found our way over to registration. I picked up both of our packets, then went to pin my bib number on. After I got my number on, Shayla was very excited to get hers on so I helped her put it on. Then, we sat back and just relaxed for a while. It wasn't long until Charlene and her oldest came along and we talked a bit and checked out the new HillRunner.com gear before heading out for a warmup.
We warmed up with probably a bit more easy running and a bit less running at higher intensity than I normally would but I'm pretty flexible with my warmups these days so that didn't concern me one bit. One thing I noticed on the warmup, as nice as low 50s sounds, there was a bit of a breeze, coming off Lake Winnebago when we were near the lake, and that damp chill just sunk right in. Not the most ideal running conditions and definitely not a picnic for the spectators. After a few strides at the start line, Charlene and I wished each other and the others around us well and we were off.
As I expected, I fell out of the top 10 at the beginning, as the young runners took off hard. I knew they would come back, though. Ultimately, my goal was to be around 10th at the half mile and within striking distance of the top 5 ("merchandise" prizes to the top 5 and I figured I had an outside shot at it so I'd go for it) at the mile, before the real racing would begin. At about 1/4 mile, I found myself already just outside the top 10 and moving up on a pack of guys but also thinking to myself I'm not feeling all that smooth and this doesn't feel as easy as it should. I just chalked it up to this being my first race in 8 months and then passed the pack. Now, I was in 7th place at the half mile and already within striking distance of the top 5. I hope I'm not feeling a bit off because I'm getting out harder than I should. Forget that, though. The pace feels right, just race.
With that, I set my sights on a pack of 3 guys. Passing the whole pack would put me in 4th place and well set for my run at the top 5. As I approached, the pack broke up a bit so I could work on them one on one. This played a bit into my favor. It can be hard sometimes to run away from a whole pack but it can be easier taking guys out one on one, especially guys who already feel like they are falling off. I took the first two fairly easily with slight surges to ensure they didn't want to go with me. I passed the third right before the mile but had a bit more trouble dropping him. At this point, I just focused on the next guy up, wearing a green t-shirt, and second place, wearing a blue singlet. It didn't take long until I was chasing the green t-shirt by myself.
Eventually, I did catch the green t-shirt after blue singlet got away from him a bit. I passed but he didn't let me go. I pushed a bit but he hung with me through the 2 mile mark. Not long after that, he passed me and began using tactics that I normally use against others. He threw in a few good surges that initially gapped me a bit but I was able to close the gap every time. The third time I had to close the gap, I felt a little left in my legs as I caught back up to him so I kept going and passed him back. Just before the 3 mile mark, I was back in front of him and trying to get a gap. Not long after, I had the gap and I was able to focus on the blue singlet that now had a fairly good but not insurmountable lead. I kept pushing for him, knowing that would be the best way also to put the green shirt away once and for all. By the 4 mile mark, it was apparent blue singlet had enough left that he was going to be tough, if not impossible, to catch. He actually was pulling away a bit. Still, there's always hope. Maybe he was going too hard and would fade in the final mile. Fortunately, I built up a sizable gap on green shirt and was pretty safely in third place. With that knowledge, I kept focusing on blue singlet for the final mile but just couldn't close on him and that mile finished pretty much how it started, with him holding about a 100 yard lead on me.
Overall, I feel like I ran the best race I could on the day. I didn't have the wheels to get out faster. Had I tried, I would have almost surely blown up and had a miserable experience. Playing catch up on second place just wasn't in the cards for me this time, I didn't have the fitness to close that gap. Third was the best I had in me and I executed the best plan I could for the day to get myself to the finish line in that position.
Final result: 3rd overall in 28:27 (from the best results I can find). Good for a "merchandise" prize of a nice folding lawn chair and a travel mug, both proclaiming me a "Top Finisher" (or something along that line) at the Walleye Run. Not bad for a rust buster after not racing for 8 months.
Charlene also made HillRunner.com 2 for 2 on the podium with her own 3rd place finish in the women's race. Though her sights were set a bit higher, I still think it was a good day for HillRunner.com all around.
Unfortunately, Lisa and Shayla weren't enjoying the weather and Shayla was not feeling real good so we ended up going home before she got to do her run. She was so looking forward to it, we might put her number on and go to the local high school track to let her run a lap when she is feeling better.