Well, maybe things are getting back to normal. Going in to today's race, I was shooting for anything under 32:00 but felt like that was on the edge of possible. It was just 13 months ago that I set my 10,000m PR in Bellingham at 30:57. That seems like so very long ago.
Absolutely perfect running weather. Low 50s, thick overcast and no wind.
Didn't see anyone I recognized that would give me a serious challenge for the victory but it seems like there is always some guy getting back from college who shows up at these things and surprises you. I've always wanted to win this hometown event but usually settle for 2nd or 3rd.
Race started on time. Always a bonus. Unfortunately there were no mile markers. Good for writing a short race report. Bad for pacing. There was a guy shouting splits at the 1 mile mark but that was it. It seems like a such a fundamental thing to do...having mile markers. Sheesh.
Anyway, crossed the Mile 1 dude in 5:13 according to my watch and 5:10 according to his. I was shooting for 5:08-5:09 so that was a bit slow but nothing to panic about. This race is challenging in that the 10k and 5k runners all run together. Both are out and back courses so you never really know who your competition is until you pass the 5k turnaround and see who peels off. One guy went out pretty quick and took a pretty early and substantial lead. I was a bit surprised to see he didn't make turnaround at the 5k but instead kept going. So there was my competition although I still had a few guys hanging on a few seconds behind me through at least the first two miles.
The lead guy was a good 12-15 seconds ahead of me through about 2.5 but then I could see I was slowly gaining on him. By the time we hit the 10k turnaround I saw his face and knew I had a chance. My 5k split was 15:43. Not bad. 5:03 pace and I was feeling really, really good. I was getting stronger and he was getting visibly weaker. At the turnaround I was about five seconds back of the lead and about 15 seconds ahead of the trailing pack. At about Mile 4, I pulled even with the leader. For whatever reason, the lead guy was satisfied with running in "Lane 8" while I was perfectly happy to take the inside lane even if it meant being vocal with oncoming runners. My philosophy about the inside lane on out and back courses is much like the track...yield it to the faster runners.
He put up a fight for about 30 seconds but it was game over for him. By 4.5 I had gapped him pretty good and by Mile 5 it was over as long as I didn't get hurt or absolutely bonk. I never gave him the satisfaction of looking back to see where he was. I used the audible clues to know where he was.
As I crossed the bridge over the Snoqualmie River and turned down the main street, I checked my watch and to my surprise was well, well under pace. But I also knew that breaking 31:00 was going to be out of reach so I just hauled it in to the finish line crossing in 31:06 winning by a very comfortable 35 seconds. It was a big road PR and just 9 seconds off my track PR. Astounding. I really had no idea I could run 5:00 pace for 6 miles right now. My workout went well on Tuesday but I really had no idea.
This was a great confidence builder especially heading into the Seattle RnR Half next Saturday. Now I just need to stay healthy.