Ah, the evening race. This is the second year they've done this race -- and there are two versions, the 15K and the 30K, which is perfect for those getting in their 20 milers. I thought about the 30K, but I have no desire to do half of a long run in the dark... big risk for injury.
I skipped my 11 mile with 6 miles at lactate threshold run earlier this week, moving it to today. So the plan was to do the first 5K (3 miles) at marathon pace, then the last 10K (6ish miles) at LT. I figured it'd be easier to run an LT in race conditions. I saw Fran at the race and we hung out, talking about our recent training. He was going to run an all-out race and use it to determine his marathon readiness.
The field of about 240 took off at 6:30 and I quickly found myself in the top 25, even though I was just going at a 4:45K/7:37 mile pace. So after the first 800 metres, I found myself running alone until the end of the race. At the one mile mark, one runner passed me but I didn't chase. Just stuck to the program.
The first 3 miles were easy (as they should be) and I was just getting into the rhythm, just working on form and stride. Funnily enough, as the 3 mile mark was approaching, the point at which I would step up the pace, I heard two runners coming up behind me. I took off, turning up a 7:10 first LT mile and never heard them behind me again.
The course goes through the Leslie Spit (good pictures here), a manmade spit that was used at some point to house rubble from construction. It is lonely, a little rocky at places. But it was fine for this race. After turning up the pace, I just started targetting runners ahead of me, and methodically turned up the pace so I'd come up behind them, run with them for a bit then let my LT pace dictate whether I would pass them or not.
Saw Fran at the turnaround, and he was about 800 metres ahead of me and looking strong! The rest of the race was pretty strong, just looking to maintain pace. Every time I saw the pace slipping, I poured it on. I also kept the pace until it became comfortably hard, or just a tad over that, when my breathing would synch up with my striding.
Here are my mile splits, the LT miles in bold
7:37 (right on marathon pace!)
6:22 pace (last .33 miles)
A few things I note about my pacing. I definitely had lots in the tank and the last two miles were super strong. In the last two miles, I spotted two runners in the distance, including the runner who passed me in the first mile. I made it my plan to catch up and pass them, so I stepped it out. A few spectators were nice to tell me my form looked good and I responded. The last mile, I started to visualize the 100m strides that I've been doing throughout this marathon training. Instead of sprinting, I ran fast, with fluid form, good posture and arm movement. It was without a doubt the strongest last few miles to any race I've ever done and I blasted through the finish line. Jelly surprised me in the last 300 metres as she was there at the final turn. I waved to her. Then as I was about 150 metres to the finish, Fran was walking toward me, already with his medal and a (to paraphrase Ryan) he rocked the course with a time of 1:03:34 and a 11th place finish.
All in all, a great LT run and a strong 15K race, all more gratifying in knowing that I took it easier in the first third of the race. (Also, looks great on paper cause of the small field, but I came in 16th overall, 10th among all men and 5th in my age group. A lot of the speedsters were doing the 30K.
Final chip time: 1:06:52
Place overall: 16/240 (93.3 percentile)
Place in men: 10/85 (88.2 percentile)
Place in age group: 5/31(83.8 percentile)