After almost three months without racing, it was time to race again. One of my running club friends, Dawn Harrison, was putting on this race through her church, so I decided to run it. However, I wasn't too sure about my fitness level. I decided to not coach Beech during the track season this year and was just going to hang loose and get in my token daily afternoon naps. During the winter, Vance Pounders, a runner from JPII tracked me down to help him with his training some. That ended up turning into a coaching job for JPII, so bye-bye naps.
Anyway, I was running pretty consistently with the JPII kids and got in a few hill repeats sessions with them that Vance would totally smoke me on. I wasn't sure what kind of time goal to set but thought I could break 17 with a good race. I knew where the course was, so I ended up scoping it out and it turned out to be one of my worst nightmare courses...primarily uphill for almost the first two miles, with the last mile being downhill. I absolutely hate hills because I'm so bad at them (I guess most people hate what they are bad at), so I wasn't sure how to race.
Dawn said there was guy running who had a goal of around 16:30. I didn't want to lose, so I had to devise out a good strategy. My plan was to hold back somewhat the first part of the race and hope the guy wasn't familiar with the course, went out too hard and then died the second half. Of course anything can happen in a race, but that's what my plan was.
I met the guy before the race and he turned out to be David Hudson, a coach for Brentwood Academy. We both went out a little bit cautiously, so my plan was to run with him, without pushing the pace and wait to make my move. I don't remember the first split but I definitely remember it being in the 5:30s. That's over 17:00 pace but it was right on the money for me considering the course conditions. The second mile was the toughest of the race and at one point, I attacked a hill to see how David would respond. He gave me about a three second gap, which gave me some confidence, so I slowly backed-off until he caught up.
We hit two miles in around 11:20 and with the last mile being primarily downhill, I decided to make a long push for home. Over the next couple of minutes, I built up a 5-10 second gap. However, the pain was definitely coming in and I was hurting pretty badly and was hoping I could hang on for the next three or so minutes. Shortly before the finish, there was a steep 100ft. or so hill and I knew if I could hold my lead until then and then attack the hill, I could probably take the win. I did my best to hang on and after attacking the hill, I finished the race in a time of 16:50, which meant I ran the last mile under 5:00 (it sounds impressive but gravity made it possible) with David finishing in 16:58.
I was really pleased with this race because David is a legit mid 16s guy, so with a little more consistent training, I could maybe make a run at 16:00 in the Purity Moosic 5k in about six weeks. I feel this effort was around 16:30 or a tad faster on a more flat course.