This was the race I was most looking forward to. While Crazy 8's is a big race with a lot of top competition, the Goodlettsville Classic takes place at Moss Wright Park, where I do most of my training and feels like it's my "home" race. There's also several guys who are somewhat my rivals who come down for it, so it's a race I really look forward to.
Lately, I've been getting in some really hard work. The six weeks prior to this race, I got in over 600 miles of running and decided to take a "down" week this week to be a little more fresh for this race. While I haven't done much work at the pace I wanted to run this race at, I was hoping my endurance would pull me through.
The course isn't really fast and makes somewhat of a figure 8 around the park. There is really only one hill, which is just after the second mile marker and is followed by a downhill. Last year, I ran this race in 21:16 and really wasn't happy with my performance. My goal for this race was to run as far under 20:00 as I could. I felt that I was a lot more fit than last year and with a 25:07 "bad race" 8k a couple of weeks ago, I felt that I wouldn't have too hard of a time breaking 20:00
With money to the top three runners, I was halfway expecting a random Kenyan to show up, and I knew Jef Scott and Nate Pennington were running. Chris Herren also planned on coming, so I felt I definitely would have some company to push me the whole way.
Chris didn't end up running but a Ugandan did and at the time, I didn't know what to expect from him. My pre-race plan was to run the first mile in around 4:50, hoping Nate would take it out hard because he took it out quickly at the Tom King Half. If I was fighting for the win, I was going to make a hard push after the downhill, which was about 2.5 miles into the race, and hope I mentally broke the other runners.
When the gun went off, Nate and I took the lead. The pace felt a little slower than I wanted but my legs felt really heavy. After about a half of a mile, I had a 1-2 second lead on Nate and kept that through the mile, which I hit in 5:01. I was frustrated with the split, so I tried to push again.
Shortly after the mile marker, you make your way onto the trail. At this point, the Ugandan guy (who I later found out was Patrick Cheptoek, who ran 22:58 at Crazy 8's) flew by me, so, I knew I was racing for second. I went through two miles in 10:04, and had about 6-7 seconds on Nate, Jef and Colin Johnson (college runner at UT-Martin). I really struggled on the uphill, sped up on the downhill and then picked it up again once I got back onto the trail.
My pre-race plan was to start to put the hammer down at this point but my legs just didn't feel like moving. Aerobically, I was feeling good, I just had some mushy legs. I guess I got really lazy in this mile, because I went through three miles in 15:19, which gave me a much slower, 5:15 third mile.
I was really frustrated with the split but was slowly putting increasing the gap on Jef and Colin (who were 3rd and 4th at this point), so I wasn't feeling like attacking. During the last mile, I put in a couple short pick-ups to keep my lead and finished up without killing myself. I wasn't working on my math while I was running, so I was expecting to run around 20:15 but when I crossed the line in 20:34, I was really frustrated. Patrick Cheptoek won in 19:24 and Jef Scott finished 3rd in 20:47.
That's only a little bit over 10 seconds a mile faster than last year, and at that point, I had a lot more room to improve than I do now. Granted I didn't race all-out until the finish line but even if I did, I couldn't have seem myself run much faster than 20:15 or so. The weather was also 80 degrees, which is about 9s a mile, using the calculator I use but calculators don't count for real times.
At the beginning of my speed phase, I felt like I was right at 15:00 5k track shape. At this point, I was hoping to be in 14:30 shape. I've run some mega miles the last few weeks but I'm just not firing on all cylinders right now. I have some small changes I'm going to make in my training these next couple of weeks but as of now, I'm way behind schedule.
I'll see how the next 3-4 weeks of training go and then make a decision about running Chicago for sure or taking a little down time and then going after 2:19 at Rocket City. Chicago is definitely what I prefer, so hopefully it works out.