Normally I wouldn't write a race report for something as short as a 5k, but this race was something special that it was my first overall win of any kind in an endurance event. Going in to the race I really wasn't expecting anything as it was only a month ago I ran a 20:30 after my off-season break. Since then I have been doing a bike/run focus as I start to prepare for London 2013. I have been putting in hard miles on the bike as I look to raise my FTP but I hadn't done a lick of speed-work on the run since I am slowly building my base up. I was really just using the race as a baseline to determine how to pace my runs for the next 4 weeks.
To start off the day I went for a nice slightly under 2 mile warmup. I tried keeping my HR south of 150, and I was surprised how good I felt after riding a total 70 miles the day before and feeling absolutely shelled after my last run on Friday. My average Heart rate was 145 with an average pace of 7:18. I arrived right at the start line with about 5 minutes to spare.
As I was waiting for the gun to go off I started off in the front like I normally do and I was sizing up the competition. It looked like there were a few younger kids that had the potential to be really fast and I saw Mary, the woman who turned out to eventually be the Overall Female winner. I knew she was probably going to be my closest competition as I've had trouble finishing in front of her in the past.
The gun went off and I shot out in front listening to the younger kids complaining about how they weighed 170 lbs and running up this hill sucks. I almost wanted to let them know I was closer to 180, but I decided to save my breath and my energy. I could hear heavy breathing behind me but I didn't look back to see if anyone was going with me, I just surged ahead and kept going forward. As I crested the hill that started the race I stopped hearing the heavy breathing and it turned into an almost eerie silence as I started down the hill. The leaves that were falling from the trees kept me on my toes as they sounded like footsteps, letting me know there was a long way to go and to stay on my game.
As I made my way on to the trail portion of the run the volunteers weren't ready as I caught them by surprise which would seem to be the theme of the day. Fortunately I had done a bit of course recon before and I knew that I had to enter the trail at that point. However, after about another 1/4 mile I hit a crossroads and I didn't know where to go! I turned around to find the first place female right on my heels and I asked her which way to go. She was able to muster it out and I followed her direction. This became the theme of the race as I would come across a turn and either look back and ask or guess and hope that she was still behind me when I turned around.
As we approached the turnaround it wasn't even set up yet! The volunteer who was supposed to be setting up the water station/turnaround frantically got out of his car and pointed for me to turn around and go the other way. That was when I got lots of encouragement from friends noticing I was winning as it was an out and back. I also got to see Erica looking good as she headed to her first age group win! I continued to push knowing I had Mary right on my tail and she seemed to be getting closer. The looks that I got entering the trail from the people that had just made it there were priceless. This was the closest I had ever been to an overall win, and I wasn't about to let it go.
With a little less than a mile to go I tried to see if I had any more in the tank, without ending up on E too early. I raised my pace slightly but it seemed like she did as well. As we made our way back through the trails and woods I knew where I was going so I could focus on just getting there as fast as possible while keeping her at bay. As I could see the exit to the trail I knew as long as I got there first I would be able to hold her off. I approached the exit swiftly and as I made the left turn, I looked back one more time and headed for the finish. I slowed down a bit right before the line so I could let it all sink in. Final results seem to be a bit off from my watch but I came across the line right around 18 flat. After years and years of training, I had just won my first race.