For the first time in a long time, I finished a race this weekend and was genuinely proud and satisfied with the results. My return to shorter-distance road racing kicked off with a 1:03:27 at the Frostbite 15k, a Richmond race that I have eyed for the past several years but had never run. This won’t be a full-blown race report, but a few highlights from a fun and meaningful day.
Final stats – 1:03:27 finish time/ 6:48 overall pace/ 2nd place male 35-39/ 30th overall
#Megsmiles – Part of what made today’s race so meaningful was the tragic death of local runner and fellow RRRC member Meg Menzies earlier this week. Her death elicited an overwhelming response from runners around the world who took to the streets this weekend to log thousands of miles for her memory. This was the RRRC’s first event since Menzies’ passing, and her spirit could definitely be felt among the runners. Many people wore blue – Meg’s favorite color – and a moment of silence was shared before the start of the race.
Goals – Going into the race, my two goals were to run sub-65 (6:58 pace) and to place in my age group. I felt like that pace goal was in line with my current fitness and my goals for the spring. I was a little nervous, though, because it had been so long since I had actually tried to race at an event. The age-group goal wasn’t really up to me, since that factor depends on who shows up to the race, but glancing through previous years’ results let me know that a 65-minute time would have gotten me in the top three in those races. As you can see from the stats above, I performed much better than expected in both regards.
Effort – I discovered that 15k is a tricky distance when it comes to pacing. Half-marathon effort would leave me with too much left in the tank at the end, and, of course, 10k effort would leave me spent with three miles to go. I tried to find a nice balance and ran the first three miles in the 6:50s. I crossed the halfway point at 32:11, which would have given me a finish time of 1:04:22 if I ran even splits. As you can see by the results, I ran the second half of the race a minute faster than the first.
Racing – After about 4 miles the field was spread out and there really wasn’t anyone to race against. I finally tracked down the sixth-place female and slowly gained on her until passing with about 1.5 miles left to go. But the last mile held some annoying hills that started to test me as my energy waned. I could hear her gaining on me and I was almost ready to throw in the towel and concede the finish place to her. But something clicked in me as we crested the last hill and I found another gear to pull away from her. My racing instinct kicked in and I was not going to be passed. I covered the last 0.3 – including the steep uphill finish – at a 6:18 pace.
Work to do – My “A” goal for the spring is to run sub-40 in a 10k. While today’s race shows I’m in a good place, it also shows that there’s work yet to be done. It’s true that this course is much hillier than the Monument Ave. 10k, but the equivalency for this 15k time would put me around 40:3X in the 10k, which wouldn’t even be a PR. I’m glad I still have 10 weeks of heavy training ahead of me.
– Today I proved that 10 miles is, indeed, enough running to cause chafing. I did not believe that before the race and was not appropriately prepared.
– While the crowds love to cheer for the sixth-place woman, no one cares about the 25th-place male. In the few miles I was running close to female #6, the crowds would erupt for her and she would get enthusiastic encouragement from all corners. But when I strode by just seconds later, I was lucky to get a half-hearted “way to go” or “turn left here.”
– Today’s AG award was my most lucrative yet, coming in the form of a $20 gift certificate to a local running store. Out of about five top-3 AG placements in my career, this is only the second that has come with a monetary prize. It almost makes up for the race entry fee!