|The bounty from today's races;-)|
The Winter Winds 2 & 4 Mile Road Race series is different for a couple of reasons. For one, it takes place on Sunday afternoon unlike most other races that take place Saturday morning. And secondly, it is two back to back road races, which presents another interesting element to racing.
My son had decided to run the 2 mile race and to try for a PR, so I decided to do the same...yeah, like I really needed an additional reason to try for a PR;-) This race course is by no means an easy course, but is definitely a fun road course. It has just enough ups and downs to challenge you without beating you down. This is true for both the 2 mile course and for the 4 mile course. Since the only other 2 mile race I had ever done was in exactly this place 2 years ago, I felt a PR was a reasonable goal.
When I lined up for at the starting line, I heard the announcer kindly reminding us that the folks in the front would be running between 5-6 minute per mile pace and that it would be advisable to back off unless one expected to run that pace. OK, my goal was to run 6 minute per mile pace, but I decided to step back a couple of rows. Another thing that was strange...Jason wasn't lined up next to me. As a matter of fact, I didn't know where he was. I figured he'd decided last minute to just do the 4 miler later. I wished my son good luck and we both took off at the "shout" of the RD.
I quickly had to find another runner to keep my pace. I just didn't want to keep staring at my Garmin to keep pace and I didn't want to blow up either. Half a mile into the race, I spotted Eric Fritz just ahead of me. OK, I know it was ambitious as he is a much faster runner than me, but I decided to try to stay with him for as long as I could. As we heard our first mile split, I knew I'd made a mistake...5:50. Wow, that had to be too fast for me. Now I knew for sure I was gonna blow up. My ambitions did me in once again. Oh well, I continued to try to stay with Eric, I didn't really pay attention to any other runners around me. As we went into a Cul-de-sac (or at least I thought it was) with a nice uphill and a turnaround cone at the end, it appeared that Eric was slowing. Ugh, what do I do now? OK, I guess I'll have to pass him. I was sure he was going to catch me again later, but I wanted to try to push as long as I could.
Unbeknownst to me, Jason was running late and literally had a running start from the parking lot just to make it to the starting line in time. By the time I passed Eric, he was just behind me. I never knew and I think that was a good thing. No mental games for me in this one;-)
When I saw the finish line just about a quarter mile ahead, I tried to keep pushing to the finish. I really didn't want anyone to pass me at this stage. For some reason, I don't mind being passed at all during the course of a race, any race,...unless it is in the final stretch. I hate being passed in the final stretch (yes Sean, this is a reference to you and your buddy in the 4 mile race striding past me with 200 yards to go, chatting away like you guys were just out for an easy stroll in the park, while my tongue was hanging out the side of my mounth trying to get more oxygen into my lungs. Just kidding, I'm not mad, just envious;-).
When I crossed the finish line in 12:17, I had a new PR and a third place age group finish in a tough 40-49 division. Mission 1 accomplished. I waited briefly to cheer on my son to the finish and we all went to get some much deserved liquids before the next race. By now, Jason had obviously caught up to me. However, he was not happy to have been beaten by me for the first time over a 5K or shorter distance. To date, I had only beaten him once at the Huntsville Half Marathon. So the score was something like 10-1 Jason, but who's counting.
I knew the second race would be interesting. For one, Jason was not going to let me just beat him twice in a single day and secondly, I really wanted to beat Jason twice in a day. He is a faster runner than me and trying to keep up with him has been my goal ever since we started racing some of the local races together. This time, he and I both lined up in the second row, while my son decided to sit this one out. We discussed our goals for this one and both agreed that we would shoot for a sub 7 min per mile average as the minimum goal. I figured I'd try to see how I felt after 2 miles and then decide if I wanted to back off or keep pushing.
By the end of mile 2, my average pace was still 6:35 and I felt pretty good...I didn't feel like talking much as I needed the air, but I felt good. My muscles had losened up again and I wanted to keep pushing. Jason was still with me and he felt pretty good, too. As we approached mile 3, a cluster of 4-5 runners had formed and we kept passing each other...back and forth...back and forth it went. It was actually kind of fun. It was clear that we all were of similar abilities at this point, so it came down to the mental game (at least that's what I thought). I decided to change my strategy a little bit. Rather than try to surge late, I decided to attack any uphill or incline and to open up my stride on the other side of those "climbs". It seemed to work. Not one of the runners stayed with me during the uphills and I generally wasn't passed on the other side of the hills.
|Jason and I in a friendly battle for position;-)|
The flats would be the challenge and that's were one runner broke away...albeit briefly. Just before the next hill, I passed him with the goal to put more distance between him and I. I knew Jason was just behind me and I was waiting for him to pounce as well. Thankfully, that didn't happen. As the finish line appeared on the horizon and I was passed by the before-mentioned Sean and his buddy, I decided that I wouldn't let those guys leave me behind. I started kicking just to keep up with those two and it worked. While I didn't pass them, I didn't get passed by anyone else on the last mile. My finishing time earned me another PR and a first place age group finish. 2-0 to Martin for the day, but 10-3 for Jason overall;-)
|Slightly exhausted after the second race of the afternoon.|