I wanted to wear shorts today. I woke up at 5:30 AM, couldn't fall back asleep, checked the temperature--18 degrees--and I put the shorts away. It was sunny but it was chilly out in Hopkins, Minnesota as I ran my first "real" race of the year. I've never run a 7 mile race before and since the course was a little short I guess I still haven't.
The course was tougher than I thought and I made at least one if not two mistakes. Before the race I warmed up and, planning to get in 14 miles for the day, I ran 3.5 miles and then did some sprints. This was probably (OK, almost surely) too much of a warm up. Normally I'd do two, maybe three miles and then some strides. Oh well.
When the race started I made a for sure definite mistake. A group of six of us went out fast and after about a quarter mile I checked the Garmin--5:30 pace. I was shooting for a pace between 5:50-5:55. At this point it was no big deal; I could've slowed down a little and I would have been fine. Instead, I made a choice--there was no one behind me and it was kind of breezy so I thought, why not just stick with these guys? Maybe they'll slow down. Maybe I'm faster today than I think. First mile we came across in 5:30. Next mile they started to pull away from me and I came across at 5:46. Then, a big hill. It was steep, long, and three-tiered. And not three-tiered in a delicious cake kind of way.
I wouldn't say I fell apart after two miles that were too fast but I did fall apart on steep mile three. A friend from Minnesota Running Wild said she was 20 seconds slower that mile. I wish I'd been 20 seconds slower. My third mile--6:19. I'm pretty sure that's about 33 seconds slower. I suppose that's not terrible but it's not good either.
I pulled it together for a couple sub 6-minute miles at 4 and 5 before another slow, uphill mile 6. The course was a little short so my last almost mile was at a 5:42 pace. The whole time I was chasing the fifth place guy who was about 20 seconds ahead of me. I kicked as hard as I could the last 1/2 mile but apparently he had just as much left in him because I didn't close the gap at all. I told my wife before the race I'd like to be top 5 so I was a little disappointed I couldn't run it a little faster.
I was also hoping for around 40 minutes and although I ran 40:44 the course was about .15 miles short according to the Garmin, so really I was in the 41 minute range. Still, I ran sub-6 minute miles 5 out of 7 miles and my overall pace was between 5:57 and 5:59 depending on the Garmin. I was shooting for between 5:50 and 5:55 so I was pretty close.
I shouldn't be too disappointed as I didn't cut back at all for this race like I did for the 20k I ran last year and I still ran a faster race. After my warm up, race, and cool down I ran 73 miles this week. During the Fetzer 20k week I ran 46 miles. This course was also way hillier than Fetzer and I've never been great on hills.
It's been a pretty good training cycle and I've managed to run more miles than ever without getting hurt. While I'm not thrilled about this race I'm happy enough with it. A 20 mile run tomorrow and then a 25k next Saturday and I'm ready for my taper.