Knowing I had the Rock N Roll St. Louis Half-Marathon eight days later, my goal was to place as high as I could without overdoing it. I knew Patrick Cheptoek was showing up and I knew I wasn't going to try or even could, beat him. Justus David was also racing, who is a tough dude. Brandon York was coming for a progression run and was gunning for 68 something. So my goal was to try and get second if I without killing myself.
When I got to the line, I saw the three I was worried about, along with Joey Elsakr and a couple of unexpected Kenyans. I went from feeling I'd finish in the top three to not knowing if I would be able to win anything. First world problems.
With all of the tough guys now in the field, my goal was to relax in the back and follow the pace and see if I could drop someone late without overdoing it. When the race started, Festus Chemaoi shot out like a canyon but we all let him go. I hung in a pack with Patrick, Justus and some Kenyan I've never seen. It felt like we were going 4:50ish pace so I was surprised to see a 5:06 first mile. We stayed together (after passing Festus) and got in a good groove splitting 5:05-5:06 with one outliying 5:02 for the next five miles.
I felt a pace increase in the seventh mile, so I let them put some distance on me. They put on 4-5 seconds on me that mile but I came through in 5:04, so I was still running a decent pace. I was worried I was going to go home worn out and empty handed but I paid close attention to what was happening in front of me. I was watching the pack and noticed Justus was watching over his shoulder a lot. I took that as a sign that he may fall off shortly, so that kept me going. After being eight seconds behind them at eight miles, I ended up catching them shortly before ten miles.
I then felt confident that I would be second or third and I took my spot in the back of the pack. At 10 miles, Patrick put in a patient and increasing in intensity surge, so we let him go. Right away the random Kenyan fell back and it was just Justus and I. Since I dropped him a few weeks ago, I thought I'd be able to do it again. I tried throwing in a few surges here and there but the dude wouldn't crack. My legs were starting to get a little worn and unresponsive and with third place almost sealed, I backed off the pace and let Justus go and went from a 5:01 11th mile to a 5:25 for the next one. The next mile was closer to 5:30 and I crossed the line in 67:29 with Justus about 15ish seconds ahead and the other dude about the same distance behind.
Justus definitely took me by surprise but that's how racing is sometimes. While this course is dead flat, the roads were really wet from the rainfall that morning, which also made it pretty humid that last 10k. Maybe in a best case scenerio, I could have hammered and finished a little under 66:30, which is slower fitness that I thought I currently had, because I felt like I was in sub 66 shape. Maybe I ran a little bit harder than I wanted but I'll take another stab at it next week.
I was glad to be able come to this race again because it's a great course, run very well and the post-race food is also good. I also appreciate how deep the awards go as they also award wheelchair, Masters, Grandmasters money, as well as money for the residents who live in that county. In a sport that is diminishing prize money, it's always nice to see races that still support it.