Striders 5K this morning. Abnormally warm day for early February, mid-40's for temp, overcast, no wind. In other words, perfect. I arrived to the Start about 50 minutes before the race, checked in, and warmed up for a few miles. I knew from my elevation profile that this race would be very hilly, as we will essentially run up and down the highest Bonneville Shoreline terrace. I was rather dreading it.
At the start line, it appeared that there was a very good field: Joe, Corbin, Bob, Steve, Sasha, Leon, Nate, and so on and so on. Basically all the usual suspects, and then some. I put Top 3 and money out of my head and decided to just focus on running smart and "my race".
The first mile felt pretty easy and had a good amount of flat and slightly uphill terrain. Sasha's GPS beep cued me to look at my watch at 0.5-mile, which I hit in 5:34. The gradient increased substantially by the end of the mile. Went through the mile in 5:23, which was right where I wanted to be. I was in 5th place at that point, further up than I expected given the field.
By the end of the 1st mile and into the 2nd mile, things got really steep. I focused on trying to stay smooth, not make any foolish moves, and keep from going too anaerobic. The crest of the big hill came sooner than I expected, and I was still feeling quite good, so I knew at that point that I was going to have a good race. I moved into 4th, passing Leon at some point, and then Joe started falling off Corbin and Bob. I realized that if I kept my pace, I would pass him. The downhills were like roller coasters, and I just flailed my arms for balance and let gravity chunder me down at high speeds. I passed Joe on the downhill, and I was then in 3rd. If I could hold that, I would take a home a little cash which is always nice. Mile 2 split was 5:39 (11:02 2-mile).
The last mile had mixed up and downs, but mostly downhills. I just tried to keep momentum going and my form good. With about half a mile left, I realized that no one was going to catch me, plus I was starting to gain on Bob and Corbin. Unfortunately, I couldn't quite get enough oxygen into my gaping mouth, but still tried to push it the best I could. Corbin made a move up front, dropped Bob, and put more distance on myself as well. Bob came back to me a bit, but I ran out of road, and he ended up finishing a couple seconds ahead. I finished strong, but it wasn't exactly a blazing sprint either. I would describe the race in general as a steady effort without too many surges, very even "pacing" and effort given the terrain. Last mile split was 4:59. Last 200m was 35 seconds. Overall time was 16:36. 3rd place. Also noteable: a 1-2-3 finish for the Wasatch Running Center. Overall results are here.
I was VERY pleased with this race. I did not expect to finish in the top 3 in that particular field, and was quite tickled to finish that close to speedsters like Bob and Corbin. This is a great start to the season!
Cooled down a few miles with everyone afterward.
PM - Did an easy 5.5-mile afternoon run to get some more mileage and shake the race and car trip out of my leg. Felt pretty good.