This past Saturday I jumped back into racing (and starting a 5-week race binge) in a daunting way: 2 races in one day. I've never done that before, but it was more manageable/sane because it was a bike race and running race. Giro di Coppi road race (cycling) in the afternoon, Rockville Twilight Runfest 8km (running) in the evening. Todd agreed this was an excellent workout opportunity and I wanted to get the most out of both races while at the same time not embarrass myself at the 8k late in the day.
The cat 5 wave of GdC set off around 1:05pm, which was quite a bit later than I would've liked with an evening running race looming. I sat in for the first of three laps with the mindset that I wanted to improve on my 3rd place finish in 2010 with a win this year. However, sitting in meant that I would do very little work until the last 200m to go. I got a bit frustrated once we finished lap 1 because I felt I was doing no work. I made up my mind at that point that I would make the race harder for me and potentially sacrifice an easier chance victory by moving to the front and leading or pulling for multiple stretches... and that's what I did. I pulled for about 3 miles of lap 2 and led a short break on lap 3 before taking the lead 2 more times, choosing the hilliest portions for my leads. I felt like I was working a lot more. However, it left me a bit drained for the final sprint climb, and once we hit the 200m to go mark, I was quickly passed by most of the 15-or-so man pack that broke away, ending up 12th overall when I crossed the line. The placement was a bit of a disappointment, but I just had no pop for that short sprint. I was very satisfied with the effort and work I put in, and Todd agreed that was the takeaway from this race. I did try to win, but did so the hard way and I think that was more beneficial to me and my triathlon training than simply sitting in and working for only 200m.
I relaxed a bit and ate some Honey Stinger waffles (my new go-to energy snack) in the few hours before the 8k, discussing race strategy with Paul Zwama. We correctly locked the door to Dirk's apartment and made our way to the race. We met up with Texas Paul at the invited athlete room (where I felt rather insignificant, surrounded by Ethiopians, a Dutchman, a Texman/Alabaman and other area legends) and warmed up for a sweaty 2 miles. I was drenched before the start. It was so humid. But I was quite surprised how good my legs felt. I figured, as long as there are no hills, I'll be just fine. So I was quite disappointed to look to my right about .25mi from the start and see a hill as part of the course. My quads quivered at the thought. O well, it's time to race.
The 8k begins and people blast off from the start. I tried my darndest to go slow and conservative, but there were too many people practically sprinting toward the first turn, so I found myself caught in the crowd. PMurph and I joined forces and made our way through a short mile 1 in under 5:10... too fast for me. I eased up a bit and took it slow up the hills. Yes, there were plenty of those... taking it slow up them was the only solution if I wanted to live through the entirety of the race! We hit mile 2 in around 10:30, so my pace did indeed slow, which was fine, but I was starting to feel really hot. Only 3 miles to go... geez, I was already looking forward to finishing. My pace slowed between 3 and 4 and the gap I had opened on PMurph had closed a bit, but I ignored the clock at this point... just finish strong. The last mile was a desperate effort to get to the finish. I was passed by a couple people, and heard footsteps catching up, but finally crossed the line in 27:39. Not a great time, but a 40-second PR nonetheless, and not terrible considering I raced beforehand... around a 34min 10k equivalent, which I'll take after a ride! And I ranked quite bit closer to my usual race rivals and I expected.
Apparently I was moving slow enough to make the camera blur out of boredom.
So that was one heck of a day and a great workout overall. I'm doing it again this coming Saturday, with Lost River Classic in the late morning and Crystal City 5k in the evening. I'll aim to run a bit smarter in the 5k and sit in a little bit more at the bike race. I would like to show up a little fresher for the 5k than I did for the 8k as it should be a flatter and faster course.