I had previewed the course a couple times with the Falls Road team within the month leading up to the race and knew I had work cut out for me... it's a very hilly and technical course, with many sharp climbs and descents and turns to make it hard to keep a rhythm. I wanted to go out feeling conservative the first couple miles and then hold a solid tempo effort while racing for placement and thus helping my club, MCRRC.
My legs weren't fresh race morning as the day before I rode some hard miles in the strong winds preceded by a 30min run, but I felt better than I expected. Tom, Conrad and I warmed up for a couple miles, got my act together and headed to the start. I saw a lot of friends from MCRRC and Falls Rd and lined myself up a few rows back so I could commit to my conservative start. Race went off and I settled in, aiming to hit 6:00 for the mile, but instead found myself holding 5:45 but very comfortably... I kind of expected that to feel a little harder, but I just went with the conservative feeling rather than thinking about the pace.
And actually that's how the rest of the race went, even through the hills. I checked my miles just to be sure I wasn't getting TOO comfortable, but I felt I was putting in a good effort and passed at least 22 people, which was thrilling! My legs were strong on the harder climbs in the middle, which I was worried about as my previous hip/quad injury was magnified on hills. But today I didn't feel the injury once. Put in a little extra effort for the last mile since I didn't feel awfully winded at that point. Finished in 57:59 (I bush-league sprinted to the finish just to get under 58) and 23rd overall. I think that's not so bad for being out of run shape, also goes to show my bike/swim training has made me fit overall, which will hopefully make it easier to get faster in running. Splits were 5:45, 5:45, 5:46, 5:41, 5:43, 5:49, 5:50, 5:53, 5:56, 5:45. Conrad got a big win and other training pals / honorary teammates had great races too.
That was a lot of fun, a really enjoyable race. Competition with friends and foes. Paced myself well and had lots of energy and leg left after the finish. And both the result and effort has gotten me really excited for the Spring. Whereas last week I was worried about where I'd be by Cherry Blossom, I'm now confident I'll still salvage a strong running season.
Ok, maybe I was having too much fun, thanks Michelle