I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed racing this race. I was so happy to meet up with Anthony because he makes things fun! He has great energy and such a love for our sport!
My biggest stress before the start, and most likely Anthony's as well, was the fact that I needed to find a bathroom at 10 minutes to gun time. We knew the port-o-potty line was going to be too long. I decided to just skip it and hope everything would be ok… but with 8 minutes until the gun, we were warming up and passed a Quickcheck. I decided to see if I could make a quick pit stop. I am certain Anthony was thinking "OMG, really… we don't have time for this!!!" But I was quick and we made it to the start with plenty of time to stand around and chat with others. Thank you Anthony for being patient with me :)
The last time I raced Sunset was 2013 and I was in good shape. Right now, I am starting to feel really good again! My training volume is up with out being forced. I met Anthony for Speed Work last week and got to open up the stride for some fast 300's. I ran 21 miles on Sat and then another 14 on Sunday without excessive fatigue and no soreness. I logged 75 miles last week. My immune system feels strong. My fingernails are no longer brittle (which has been a reliable signal to me about how healthy I am: No fingernails = racing is bad… Healthy fingernails = racing is good).
Last Monday I raced President Cup. I used that race to run hard but to focused on Pacing myself and sticking to a plan. I ran 6:50 pace with control, but I did suffer a hard fade in Mile 3. I felt like I hit a wall and was not able to dig there for anything more. But after a week, I felt stronger.
Today's plan was to target 7:00 pace or better, with the ultimate goal to conserve on the Mile 2 hill so that I could really find a Kick this time.
M1: Gun goes off and I try to count ladies to have a sense of where I am. I see at least 3 ahead of me. Over the course of the first mile, I am passed by 3 more. I figure I am 7th. I am remembering my good pace work from President's Cup and I settle in to just sub-7:00 pace. I am a little concerned because this effort doesn't actually feel as easy as I had hoped it would. I was concerned that I would fall about after 3M where I hit the wall last Monday.
I know we make a left turn and CLIMB in mile two. This concerned me. I look to my left and notice these houses are sitting on top of lawns the consist of steep down hills. I make a comment, "OMG, those lawns are so steep they must be impossible to mow. I would just grow MOSS!"… that makes runner near me LOL. My comment about the lawn was really more about me knowing that those steep lawns represent the exact grade of the hill we are about to run up. I settle down and mentally prepare to climb. M1 6:57
M2: We turn left just after Mile 1 and the pain starts. I let people go. I feel tired. I know I don't want to leave it all on the hill. I think about Anthony and how I told him he should sit back in mile 2 and let people go. I told him to plan for a 20 second fade. I follow my own advise to him because I believe it is the smartest way to handle this course. I pass one lady just over the crest. I suspect I am 6th now. M2 7:20
M3: Just like what I told Anthony… as soon as we crest the hill we need to work to get our paces back down to our goal average pace over M3 and M4 and but plan to be ready to CRUSH mile 5 to make up for Mile 2. I had forgotten that that climb we survived at the start of M2, comes back to us as a descent at 2.6 miles… This is the place where everything started to go right for me! A small pack was ahead of me, 2 ladies were in there. Runners were somewhat conservative on the descent. I decide to so the opposite and just let go. I run as fast as I possibly can using gravity in my favor, flailing my arms like a maniac! If my quads hate me then so be it. This move was amazing and I FLY past at least 6 runners on this short descent. I suspect I am in 4th. M3 6:44
M4: I didn't feel like that blazing descent too took much from me at all. I think, hmmm, maybe downhill racing is my thing? ;)… Mile 4 is simply not as fast as Mile 3. There is a little inclining along the way that slows pace in the early part of the mile. This mile is hard. I focus on a few people I know run well that I can see ahead of me and I try to reel them in. There is one more female in my sight and I want to be able to get ahead of her before the sharp turn on the way to mile 5. I want to be out of her sight at some point so that there isn't a target on me during the fast final mile. I am not looking back so I don't know if any other ladies are coming for me. Just before the drop off at about 4.5M, I pass her and again blaze downhill to put some distance on those I am passing. I am hoping this moves me to 3rd. M4 6:52
M5: I am already up to speed since the very last part of Mile 4 starts us off with a short steep descent. The final mile is mild downhill to the track. I feel really strong. I am reeling in men now. There are no women in sight, but I am afraid to look back… but I want to look so bad! I am hoping the cheers from spectators can help me know if there are ladies behind me running me down. I won't turn to look. Where is Jim O when I need him? He always gives me the information I need to race hard.
I just run as hard as I can and turn on to the track… 3/4 of a lap and I can stop. I feel good and then with 150 meters to go, right on my right shoulder I see her in my peripheral vision… she was like a running ninja… silent and sneaking up to kick past me with 100 to go… I didn't even her her breathing. I only knew she was on me once she was there.
I remember the last 100 meter of the final 300 meters I ran with Anthony on the track when we ran a 1:01 300 meter split. I had to dig hard to pull up on him and it was the fastest my legs had moved in a long time. I also remember telling Kim during our final kick of our long runs that leaning forward is like pressing the gas, lean in, drive the arms, lift the knees and the speed will happen…. I do it all and I find that I do have another gear! Yes! I pull away and she doesn't come with me. I am running as if it was 100 meter dash and I feel awesome! M5 6:34
This is the best race I have had since October and I really needed this to start to feel like myself again! Thank you Anthony for reminding about Sunset. I am so glad I went!
Time 34:39 (6:56 pace)
OA place: 27
Gender: 3rd (by 2 seconds)