I went into this race with very little preconceptions and fuzzy expectations. The only thing I knew was that I really wanted to race a short race. I had been showing signs of real improvement in my easy runs. Sean initially told me to skip this race, but I finally talked him into saying it would be ok, :) So here I was at the race this morning. I arrived a little later than I usually like, but I had pre-registered so that saved me a ton of time waiting in line. There were quite a few people at this race, close to 1700. After I received my bib and chip I did a short 15 minute warm up and ran into Geoff, a fellow Kenyan Way member, and new blogger. His goal was to run a 16:15. So I knew he was really confident and he was definitely someone to look out for in the race. The race delayed for a few minutes because of all the late registrations and sheer number of people. The weather was perfect, low 50's with practically no wind.
We lined up and the gun sounded. Initially for the first .5 mile I was probably in 20th position and was surprised at how long everyone maintained the blistering pace. Some guys were flat out sprinting. I eased in to a 5:10 pace and focused on maintaining this pace the first mile. Eventually about 10 of the guys fell back and there were a group of about 10 of us. I noticed that Geoff was about a second in front of me to my right. Rudy Rocha, a very good experienced runner, was also slightly ahead of me. I believe Wilmer Bustillos, the phenomenal masters runner was in 3rd position. The rest of the runners were probably high school runners? There was a guy who was about a good 5 to 10 seconds ahead of the pack and was looking pretty strong. I hit the first mile marker at about 5:12 by my Garmin and 5:11 by the course clock. I was probably in 2nd or 3rd position by now.
After I hit the first mile marker I decided to pick up the pace a little harder. I eased in to a 5:05 pace and eventually this propelled me past the leader at about the 1.5 mile marker. As I passed him I could hear him breathing heavily so I suspected he wouldn't be able to maintain a sub 5:10 pace for the rest of the race. I was now in 1st place but I really didn't focus on that. I just focused on maintaining pace. I could still hear heavy breathing when I hit mile 2. This confused me a little because I didn't think that the guy I passed would be able to hang with the pace that long. I later found out from Geoff that it was another runner and the initial leader had faded away. I hit the 2 mile marker at 10:17 by my Garmin.
During miles 1 and 2 I felt really great. By the start of mile 2 I was feeling pretty confident because I had almost two thirds of the race completed and I hadn't felt any duress yet. I started feeling the duress during 2.5 and the pressure increased slightly over the next .6 miles. The good thing was that I was still able to run extremely fast. I ran much of the third mile at 4:59 pace according to my Garmin. By the end of the 3rd mile I clicked off a 5 minute mile and I could hear no more heavy breathing behind me. The course clock said 15:30
The last .1 of the race was pretty confusing because we entered the Rockets tunnel through the Tundra garage and at times the tunnel seemed very narrow and like it was about to finish. So I was very unsure and at times was wondering whether I was running past the finish line. I probably slowed 4 to 5 seconds here. I finally hit the Toyota Center basketball court and saw the 15:58 tick off and I was totally confused. Remembering my previous splits I thought for sure I gave myself enough cushion to get under 16 minutes. Evidently that wasn't the case. I officially ended up finishing at
16:04 16:01. Shortly after my finish, Geoff came in at 16:12. Great, a Kenyan Way 1-2 finish!
Above: Photo with my college buddy Van Garrett
A couple of things here. I PRed today and I am quite happy. It's great that I was able to run a time like this with little to no speed work. Spring racing season is here and that will include lots of speed work. But we must not forget the long runs because that is what got us here. So I'll keep that on the agenda as well. Here are my splits:
5144 secs last .1 ???
The last split is very peculiar. I suspect that the course ended up a little long(maybe I didn't take the correct tangents?) or the last mile ended up getting skewed because of the buildings, etc. This is ok, the main thing to take away from this race is that I'm getting better. CORRECTION: I checked the results page and it said I ran a 16:01.