So last weekend was the 3rd race of 6 in the winter grand prix series, and the second of 2 cross country style races. I was really looking forward to putting the spikes back on and grinding it out. The weather leading up to the race had been rather shotty to say the least. Very warm and wet.
When the high schoolers and I got to the course saturday morning we had about an hour to warm up and stretch before the race started so we picked out a spot to drop our stuff and start running the course. Just as we expected, the course was a slop fest, very wet, squishy and muddy! I was really looking forward to this since it has been over 6 years now since i had been in a race with conditions like this, and you can bet that I missed it! The high schoolers were not too thrilled. They had all just got new spikes for the track season, all flashy and what not, and were pissed that they had to get them all muddy.
After a 2 mile warm up, we sat down and stretched in the dryest place we could find. The legs were feeling pretty good, and I was really stoked to toe up on the start line. With 2 straight races of taking down max (senior who ran 16:05) and zach (sophomore who ran 16:09) they were very distant thoughts in my rear view mirror. Drubbing them the previous weeks cemented in my minds as well as theirs that they were going to be seeing a lot of my back. I had my sights set on Johnathan (junior who ran 15:45 as a sophomore and 15:40 as a junior, being injured most of the season). He had been complaining that he was out all night the night before and saying how he didnt feel great. Just what I wanted to hear to be able to start playing my mind games with him :)
Beating someone when they arent at their best is never what you want by any means, but for someone to be that far out of your league, who constantly puts the beat down on you, youll take what you can get!
The race was off before we knew it, and within the first 400 there were 10 or so people jockeying for position up near the front. The series hadnt had this type of competition show up yet so i was excited to see how i would run.
We hit the first hill, and bounded up it strongly, even though it was very slippery and muddy. I was about 3/4 of the way up the hill when zach passed me on the right hand side effortlessly. This made me very nervous, for him to blow by me at this stage of the race so easily...could he be in my head???
as we crested the top of the hill, i was sitting right on zachs shoulder, and prepared for the quick decent following a 180 deg turn at the top. When we started to descend I thought to myself, i have way longer legs i should be able to get around him by the bottom of the hill and need to put him away on the flats before we hit the hill on lap 2. Zach is a very strong climber since he is such a small little guy.
Just as I had played it out in my mind, it happened in reality. I passed him on the downhill, put some time into him on the flat, and came through the mile at about 5:23. As I was passing the mile i realized I was running shoulder to shoulder with Johnathan! I was over the moon with this and just as we hit the hill for the second and final time, i got a boost of energy and made up it strongly. After descending i was still right on his shoulder, and we had a half mile to go. Could i really do this?!
Just inside a half mile i moved to the outside to make my pass, but was blocked, johnathan had swerved to the outside as well cutting me off. About 15 seconds later i tried the same move, again to be denied by a counter swerve. Irritated with this i settled right back into stride behind him, knowing now that the next quarter of the course was very technical (especially in the mud) and I would need a miracle coming down the final 300 to make the pass.
As we made the final turn and were heading down the home stretch i saw Johnathan look over his shoulder at me as if to measure where i was at to see what he had to do to hold me off. In my head i thought yes this was my chance he is hurting and is falling off the pace. But it ended up being that he did just the bare minimum to get to the finish line ahead of me :( being that he is a mid 15 min 5k runner, a 2 mile race at 10:30 even on your off day really wasnt too hard for him so he had plenty in the tank to shut me down. I held on strongly for a respectable 10:34 in the sloppy conditions.
Even if he did have an off day, I got in johnathans head that day, and will continue to make strides to close the gap and hope to pull off the upset by the end of the race series.
Zach and max came in about 15 seconds behind, both shoulder to shoulder. Post race trash talk commenced and will continue till the day one of them comes through with the W!
Next up a 2 mile road race on a fast flat course. Time to improve on the previous time.