Saturday I did a long ride on the trainer as I wanted to get it done early in the day (too cold outside). About 110 minutes, averaging 208 watts and 94 rpm. It's nice to see that my sustainable/comfortable wattage is increasing. That was definitely an effort that I could've held for a longer time. I ran for 15 minutes afterward, one loop around my neighborhood trail. I felt springy and strong, and I dug into the hills to test my foot, which had been a little achy the past couple days. No pain, no tightness. Good to go for Shamrock 5k.
Sunday was race day. Dirk and I stormed up to Baltimore, zig-zagging through I-95 in an attempt to keep up with Sam and his car full of teammates. We had to wait around a while for the start because the packet pickup closed at 11:30, with the race starting at 1:15. But we were able to relax and get in a solid warmup. It got really crowded at the start line, so strides (downhill strides at that) weren't easy to come by, but I got in 4 sort-of strides. I had plenty of competition at the line, and I recognized two Falls Road guys (Ed Aramayo and Dustin Meeker). I lined up near PMurph as I wanted to stay close to him, since he ran a strong 15:31 last year in this race. Just before the horn went off, I felt a strange serene calm come over me, which I haven't felt before... helped me focus in that last second before the race began.
Horn went off, even though we were 2 meters behind the start line. As vets of this race said would happen, we were shot out of a cannon, right into a downhill first half mile. I saw Patrick go hard, ahead of Dirk and Sam, and I held back a little, just to make sure I wasn't overdoing it. We reached the bottom of the hill, and I was in the lead pack of 10 or so runners, and caught up to Patrick. We passed a few more and settled into pace. We hit the first mile in 4:45-4:47, and I was pleased to feel strong. I saw Dirk and Sam not too far ahead, as well as Ed and Dustin. Patrick and I approached the turnaround, and I was still feeling good, but now is when the race began. We turned right into the 15mph headwind, and I saw Ed, a little closer than before. I focused on catching up. Hit the 2-mile in 9:50something, and knew then that I could beat my track PR... my road PR was toast, but I REALLY wanted to get under 15:44. So I picked up the effort and caught Ed a quarter mile later. My focus now was to stay ahead of him and try to catch Dustin. I inched closer and closer to Dustin, but I wasn't able to find another gear... probably due to only recently being on the track? Being local guys, I heard lots of cheers for Ed to catch me and telling Dustin I was behind him... so I wasn't going to sneak up on anyone. Hit 3 miles in 15:04 and Joe told me to MOVE. The PR was definitely realistic, but I wanted to get under 15:30 and catch Dustin. Didn't do either as I lacked that GEAR X, but I held off Ed and came in at 15:37, 5th overall! Cooled down for a couple miles, got my age group award (a cup), got a free t-shirt from some local strippers (yeah... about that), and had a great chicken tender lunch.
Pretty happy about it. I accomplished my goals of sub-16 road and my A-goal of besting my track 5k PR. The hills helped me stay strong and I was really focused on the competition and my effort level... not distracted by anything else as I've been in the past. Nice to do also without tapering, and training through it.
Team PRs also, as Mike C and Scott got under 17:00. Patrick was 8th and Dirk ran well, first race back since October, and got 2nd overall. Sam won. Then we got kicked out for accepting t-shirts from strippers (or maybe because Charlie Ban was posing pantsless in the fountain). Overall success!