This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I was the first of Team Hillrunner to arrive but I always like to be early for races â I get anxious if I am not. As always, I also have a lot of nervous energy before a race and usually pace around like a caged animal. So this time I made sure that I drank water, used the facilities and then meditated. I concentrated on my breathing to relax myself. Eventually, three of our team members showed up; Josh Jackett, Gerald Cameron and Dave Dehart. We chatted and I pinned the bib on my Team Hillrunner shirt. I was still worried a bit about my recent tear to my calf muscle as I was not 100% and would have to monitor that closely so I wouldnât get carted to my car and hurt the team.
Eventually Ryan Hill came by and we all chatted some more while waiting four our other two teammates Peter and Mike Diamond. When they arrived, we decided to get out there for a warm-up but they opted out due to recent training issues. The warm-up was uneventful but we shared some light conversation and were cheered on by some cheerleaders along the course.
We headed back to our meeting location for final race prep (drink more water and again hit the facilities â just to be sure.) I did some light stretching of the injured calf in hopes of preventing a re-injury. We then headed out to the starting line.
We each worked our way up to a place we felt most appropriate for our skill level but saw some people that clearly didnât belong there â but hey â that happens at most races. They started the countdown and then we were off and running.
I was checking my pace on my Garmin to be sure I didnât get out to fast. I wanted to get miles one and two in 6:15s, then miles three and four in 6:10s and mile 5 in whatever I had left. Based on my recent 5K I should have been fairly ready to accomplish that goal. Hit the first mile mark in 6:15 and was exactly where I wanted to be and I was feeling good. The swirling winds didnât affect me at this point. I felt like I was slowing during mile two so I checked my Garmin â sure enough â SLOW! I kept trying to get myself up that long hill but kept losing speed â there seemed to be more headwind than the first mile. Sure enough â hit mile two in 13:00 even. That was a major let down. I lost 30 seconds and knew that would be nearly impossible to make back up. I also felt a light bit of pain in my injured calf â now I need to be very measured and very mindful.
I knew I could pick up several seconds during the steep downhill during the third mile so I tried to push myself to get back on pace for a 6:10 mile. I was careful but fast in the steep downhill worried about my calf. Sadly, I was slow yet again this time hitting a 6:15 mile. Now I am 35 seconds off pace. I begin to also strategize on finding runners from the Performance Running Outfitters Team to pass as many of them as I can.
Mile four can be a tough mile I fought hard not to fade and looked for someone to try and draft â but the end of the fourth mile really got me â a 6:28 mile. Now I am 51 seconds off pace and felt crushed but knew I had to fight for the team. Somewhere in the last half mile Double (Dave Dehart) caught me gave some encouragement and passed me. I tried to fight to keep up with him but slowly lost some ground. I focused on not getting passed by others and tried to pass as many people as possible. As I rounded the last turn before the finish line Coach Hill was yelling encouragement and telling me that every second counted â this is where I went for broke. Pushed hard and passed several runners.
I was disappointed in my performance because I was hoping to PR and get in under 31 minutes. My final time was 31:59.2 â 60 seconds slower than I wanted to be. Now I was worried about the team as I was the fourth man â and I was so much slower than I should have been.
In retrospect though â coming off of two injuries I did fairly well. I managed 81st out of 2,560 runners and took third in my age group of 88 guys. So I am walking away with some hardware once again. The team did ok especially considering we were missing so many people.
We all had fun and are looking forward to next year!