The first race of the season always gives me the jitters, even when it isn't a terribly important one. Luckily, this weekend I had Phaedra and Annie to take the edge off while we road-tripped down to Waiwai (?!) for the Snake River 1/2 marathon. I can't ever take myself too seriously when those two gals are around. If only Annie would learn that she can't sabotage my race by making me car sick with all of her sun visor shennanigans! Sheesh.
I love this picture of Tronrad
The purpose of the race for me was to set a pre-season benchmark and to see where my fitness is this year as compared to last. Last year, in what I learned were abnormally mild conditions, I raced tired and unintelligently and finished with a time of 1:26:05. I went into the race last weekend hoping to run somewhat faster (in the 1:25 range), but wasn't necessarily expecting to do so, as it is hard to adequately evaluate my fitness with all of my favorite training benchmarks perpetually covered in snow and ice (the track, etc.).
Descending into the canyon, it became evident that fitness was not to be the only factor in the race, as the winds had kicked up and had a hand to play. It was chilly too, and the stiff wind in my face at the start line had me at least pleased at the prospect of a negative split on the out-and-back course. Naturally, that formidable headwind only lasted about 600 meters, and then seemed to magically die out. Right. Like any running fool, I thought myself to be particularly fleet-footed on this morning, clocking 6:15 miles, without a great deal of effort. I was nagged by the fact that I had gone out too hard the year before and suffered the glycogen-deprived consequences, but became increasingly convinced of my winter base training and went with it. That is, until the turn around. It turns out that the wind had never died down at all - it was hurling me towards the turnaround the whole time. And then I had to fight it. In a pacing manouver, I had fallen off of the back of the small pack of guys that I had run out with, not realizing that I would desperately need them on the return. So I played a tactical card and slowed up to wait for someone to work with into the wind. I couldn't have been luckier in the next person to come by. He was a guy in yellow and he did an amazing job catching us back up to my original group. There were 4 of us for the most part, and I can't imagine having tried to do that alone. The times that I found myself out in front were unbelievably hard.
It was a tough 6.5 miles, but I think they were smartly executed, and I owe Peter and the guy in yellow a great deal for doing more than their fair share of the pulling. My finish time was 1:24:32, which was good enough for the women's win, but that is of little importance. (on a side note, 9 Garmins have confirmed that the course was 13.2 miles. yay technology.) What is important is that my fitness appears to be at least on par and probably a bit better than it was as this point last year. That makes me exceedingly happy, given that most of last season was spent convalescing, which doesn't typically result in great fitness gains.
Checking my time like a good little anal triathlete
Then I got to hang out with Annie and Phaedra again on the whole drive home. What a lucky day, huh? I know many athletes who don't feel the same way, but I love out-and-back races. From competitive standpoint, I can see where my competition is, and from a social standpoint I get to cheer on all of my friends. I was astounded by how many familiar faces I saw running the opposite direction and it was a riot getting to yell their names and deliver the odd High-5. I'm still trying to decipher Conrad's comment though. "Get stinky?" I'm going to miss some names, but I want to give a shout out to everyone whose effort last weekend made me proud to call them my friends. Here it goes: Nice work, Phaedra, Annie, Conrad, Troy, Katie, Peter, Mike, Michael, Scott, Amanda, Aubre, Erika, Kirk, Tim, Mark, Vicki, Sasha, Steve, Eric, Martin, and everyone whose name doesn't spontaneously come to mind, but whose face made the day even better. Cheezy, ay?!
My Peeps (pretty quick ones at that - notice the medals)