I made my first visit to Greensboro for a road race ever. Yes, as hard as it may be to believe, I never raced in Greensboro before this morning. It was just around 6:30 when I rolled into the parking deck and then went in search of the race morning packet pickup.
I didn't have to look too far because they were already open for business.
Packet in hand, I went back to my car and got comfortable until it was time to warm up.
With only a slight wind and a cool morning temperature, conditions were ideal for racing.
As I finished up my warm up and was doing some strides, I saw Caitlin finishing her prep work. We exchanged "waves" and went to finish the last of our prerace rituals.
I was hanging slightly back and as we walked to the starting line, I came up beside her to wish her luck. She asked what kind of pace was planning to run and I honestly said "I don't know". Really, I didn't know. This would be my real racing effort in months. In looking over the course before the race, I knew it was hilly. I wasn't setting any real expectations.
I also knew that Chad and John both Masters runners would be here so I hoped that I be in the mix. If I was lucky, maybe I would snag a 3rd overall masters award.
We get the final countdown and we are off. The start is on a road that is 5 lanes wide so there is plenty of room for everyone.
Chad starts to pull ahead. Caitlin is slightly ahead of me with John running right beside her. I tuck in at this point. I wanted see how my body was feeling. To my benefit, the first mile aside from a small hill is all downhill. We pass the first mile. I see Caitlin check her watch. I just ignore my watch. No need. My breathing told me everything that I needed to know. Caitlin starts to push the pace and I follow. The ladies with her dropped back and so does John.
We turn left to make the loop around the park. Caitlin surges up the hill. I cannot match her hill surges but once we crest the top either she eases up or I am fighting back. I am not sure which. We start this trend over the few miles. She surges going up the hills then I pull it back once we are over the top. We finish the park loop and return to the road that runs back to the finish. We pass three miles and I wonder if I can stay with her for another two miles. Already in the back of my mind, I know the last mile is nearly all up hill.
We are cranking along during the 4th mile. We hit the one little rise and strangely Caitlin doesn't surge up it. I actually pull even and pass her. Stilling thinking I have this long climb to the finish, I bury myself trying to create a gap. No such luck. She is hanging just off shoulder like a dog with a bone and doesn't want to let go.
We make a right and go around this little park. Caitlin is still just behind me. I look at my Garmin. I have only half mile to go. At almost the same instance that I look at my Garmin, I suddenly feel my quads starting to tighten up. By the time, we run to the main drag again, Caitlin has a few yards on me. I never recover that distance. I don't look back to see if anyone is closing. I focus on trying to close the distance to the waving red hair. She nips in me in the final half mile by a couple of seconds.
The only thing I might have done differently is not bury myself during the 4th mile. Like they say "Hindsight is 20-20". It was a good race and fun race. Caitlin and I don't race together very often and when we are evenly matched, I really enjoy those opportunities.
Having someone to race against really forces the mind to focus on formulating a strategy to outwit and outlast them. The passage of time really seems to disappear while this is happening.
Statistically, I finished 7 overall and 2nd male masters to Chad. Chad ended up running 27:11. I finished in 28:41. Not bad when I take into consideration that this was a tough little course. Other than the last mile, my splits never varied more than a second – either 5:40 or 5:41.
In the USA T&F-NC competition, I finished 4th overall and 2nd Masters.
It was a good day all around.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner