I arrived at the starting line eagerly anticipating the race. In my mind I believed myself to be in pretty good shape. My workouts were going well. I was not peaked for this race but I felt I would be able to put in a good effort. The only 2 ominous things on the horizon to look out for was Sesar Figueroa and of course the hilly course. If Sesar showed up for the race then I felt that I was in good enough shape to try to hang on to him as long as possible and be pulled to an excellent time. But the hills on the Elysian viaduct were pretty extreme I was told. I wasn't too afraid of this since I had incorporated some hill and leg strengthening training. I ended up seeing Sesar at the starting line and exchanged some pleasantries and prepared for the horn.
It went off and we all ran out with Sesar taking a decisive lead ahead of us. I was in the midst of an unexpected crowd of young guys. I did notice young Carlos Arias, our newest Kenyan Way Elite team member in the mix early. I also noticed a tall blond runner who was running pretty strong. About a quarter mile in we hit the viaduct and head up the hill. We are hitting a pretty aggressive pace and there is a pack of us about 2-5 seconds behind Sesar. We hit half a mile, then a mile at a whacked out 4:50, totally uphill! Can you say insane! I can't really say anything because I was the main instigator in the chase pack, chasing Sesar. I just didn't expect to see such a crowd of guys still in the mix. The tall blonde guy was still in the mix, Carlos, and another shirtless kid all right with or directly behind me. I wasn't breathing hard but everyone around me was. In my mind I felt everyone else was going to die BEFORE I was (Boy was I wrong!).
So as we hit the 1.5 mile mark and headed for the turn around I'm still in second but Sesar has started to pull away a bit. He has about 10 seconds on us and we have slowed to around 5 min pace. Then we head up the hill again. Initially I'm good, just aggressively pushing and then somewhere in the next 45 seconds or so I bonk. I feel the strength quickly leave my legs like a gas tank with a hole in it. I watch as the tall blond guy, the shirtless kid and then another guy eventually pulls away from me. There was nothing I could do. There was no response available. The legs were done. The energy drifting away from me. I had to sit through a 5:15 2nd mile and then a 5:32 3rd mile and finally a 40 second .1 for a final time of 16:15. I was speechless. I couldn't fathom how badly I screwed this race up. I finished 5th.
After the race I caught up with Carlos and a couple of other guys that passed me during that 2nd mile. One of them happened to be the tall blond guy. Turns out we had been acquainted with each other from the past. He told me that he was the guy that finished second to me in the 2010 Houston Rockets Run. I didn't recognize him as he was shorter than me the year before. Turns out he was Craig Nowak. He won the state 5A 1600m as a junior this year! An obvious stud. I complimented him on his great strength as he was able to finish in 15:4x on a tough course, as a high school junior. Remember that name!
As for me, I remained disappointed in my own results. I knew what I did wrong and knew that this course was not a good indication of my current fitness, especially with how I ended up running it. The only thing to do was brush the results aside and forget about it. I had another race in 5 days. An opportunity to redeem myself.
As an aside: Sesar easily ran his own race finishing in 15:09. Another high schooler finished ahead of me, the shirtless kid but I didn't get his name. First time I've been schooled by high schoolers in years. Craig obviously is a stud, the other kid BETTER be a stud!!! Good job by the kids.
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