I set a goal of breaking 20 minutes. I knew that might be tough due to it being warm out (lower 80s, humid) but also because a poor air quality alert was in effect due to high ozone levels. Also, while my sinuses have improved since last week, they're still a wreck. Additionally, ran 20 pretty hilly miles just three days ago, so while feeling okay, no doubt the legs aren't still really fresh.
However, on my warm-up run, I felt pretty good. Breaking 20 seemed pretty doable. Neighbor Kate was also running, and I saw Blaine and Lily a couple of minutes before the start. Aside from them, I didn't know anyone else at the race. It was somewhat amusing... at ultras and trail races, it seems like I know or at least know of half the people there. It used to be similar when I raced 5Ks more often, but not surprisingly since I haven't in a while, hardly anyone else really even looked familiar. Not that it matters, but it was an amusing muse. Still a friendly bunch, of course (the norm in anything running.. virtually everyone is very friendly).
Lined up, whistle blew, and we were off.
Mile 1 (6:07): I noticed that a third of a mile in, I was only 20 feet or so behind the lead pack. I thought, "this ain't right", and looked down at the Garmin and I was going just over 5:00/mile. Whoa, slow down there, Skippy. Eased off and let the pace drop, not minding if it meant a few people passing me.
Mile 2 (6:32): Now very mindful of the pace, I did my best to push the throttle but make sure I still had plenty of gas left in the tank to finish the race without blowing the engine. The pace felt fast, but comfortable. In retrospect, I think I could have pushed this mile and the next a little harder. I think I was a little too comfortable. No worries though. For all I know, another two seconds of a mile faster and the wheels would have come off. Just not used to pacing myself for this distance and speed.
During this mile and perhaps also in part of the first mile, I was aware of someone running right behind me. I wondered why he or she didn't pass, but when I glanced at my shadow I saw it was a shorter fellow and it became obvious he was drafting off of me. Smart guy and good strategy.
Mile 3 (6:29): Still feeling that fast but
Last .1 mile (5:29/mile pace): Nobody too far in front of me or behind me, so no dogfights for the finish line (which I love, even if I lose). I was closer to 20 minutes than I thought I was, but happy to cross the finish line with a time of 19:56.
I think when the dude yelled my time to me (clock was broken) as I crossed I even said "sweet" out loud. It was. Especially compared to that giant, nut-filled terd of a race I had last month. A lot of improvement has been made since then and it was great to break 20 minutes. But still plenty of room for more hay in the barn.
Ran a mile cooldown afterwards, contemplating the race. I'm overall pretty happy with the 19:56 time, but honestly, I had hoped to do a little better, especially after the Yasso 800 performance last week. But given the factors I mentioned earlier, hey, not bad, I guess. I'll totally take it.
Warm up: 1.6 miles @ 7:13/mile pace.
Race: 3.1 miles @ 6:24/mile pace. (19:56)
Overall placing: 20th out of 216
Cool down: 1.0 mile @ 8:32/mile pace.
Well packed trails.
Lower 80s, humid, hazy, bad air alert in effect.
Saucony Kinvara, shorts.