Run strategically to win
3 mile warmup with Marley
8k Race in 28:40 w/ splits of (5:32, 5:42, 5:47, 5:45, 5:49)
1st place, $1000
2.3 miles warmup for 10.3 total
Garrett and I headed to Greensboro on Friday afternoon for my first road race in Greensboro ever. I've basically run in all the other major cities of North Carolina, but for some odd reason Greensboro never came onto my radar for other races. The Gate City 8k event director is trying to create North Carolina's premier race here in the heart of the Gate City, and they did not fail to impress. The race provided all the elites several perks besides just a deep prize purse: Garrett and I shared a king size room on the 23rd floor of the Sheraton. We attended a dinner banquet at the Sedgefield Country Club, where the ACC was founded. They cooked us made-to-order spaghetti with all the vegetables and sauces you could imagine. The best part was the three-tiered dessert table with an assortment of sweets including, but not limited to: chocolate chip cookie bars, cheesecake, key lime pie, boston creme pie, pecan pie and more cookies. Finally, they gave us picture books from a famous NC water color artist for awards.
After conversing with USATF LDR Chairs, Andrew Allden and Molly Nunn at the country club lobby, Garrett and I seated ourselves with Marley, Brock and his girlfriend, and Joel Tull, my former massage therapist from WFU. We ate the delicious food and had too much of the delectable desserts while the Mayor of Greensboro, an accomplished runner himself, talked to us about the event.
Race morning came and went without a hitch, with my trusty sidekick Garrett along for the ride and for general assistance. He waited in the car while Marley and I warmed up for the race together, discussing our race plans and just catching up. After putting on my race flats (I opted for my Nike Marathoners instead of the Flyknits so that my legs wouldn't feel so fatigued like they did two weeks ago), I headed to the start line. I ran into John Hinton and asked him what pace he was looking for because he typically beats me at these things, but he said he wasn't in as good of shape. Then, I spotted Bill and asked him the same thing. He said quite frankly that he just didn't know. Well, he did just run a 2:46 marathon a couple weeks ago!
The Mayor of Greensboro said "Ready, Set..." and then a girl sprinted off for what they would call a false start in track..and then he fired the gun, where everyone else took after the girl. One of the elite women took off hard, and I settled in a safe distance of about 10 feet behind her. Marley and two other girls were on my shoulder, as well as John Hinton and Bill. The first mile was entirely downhill and after I passed the first mile mark, I made a slight move to drop my female counterparts and continued on the rest of the exceptionally hilly course, side by side with Bill. I pushed on the first big uphill, and on the corresponding downhill, let out an audible sigh of relief, to which Bill responded, "Don't give up and Don't give in." I grunted in response.
Bill and I continued to play cat and mouse for basically the rest of the course. I would push on the uphill, settle on the downhills, as he pushed past me on the downhills. The whole race I felt rather terrible and by mile 3 I just kept repeating to myself: Race hard and race fast. Mile 3 passed by and I wished we didn't have another loop before heading back downtown. I could already see the big buildings and wanted to take the direct route rather than the loop around a small park. During the fourth mile, we went up yet another large, steep hill and Bill really gapped me here. I truly thought I was going to die here, but I think my repetitive mantra inspired me to speed up and tuck in right behind him. With less than a half mile to go, it was all uphill to the finish. Somehow I powered past Bill even though I felt awful. My stomach was hurting bad and I just felt tired. I crossed the finish line a mere 2 seconds ahead of him and was so grateful for the finish. Had Bill not been there, I definitely would have been hard pressed to run sub 29:00.
The next female racer, Ginny Cronley, wasn't too far behind in 28:56 and then 3-5 were very close together at around 30:xx. It will be exciting to compete with Ginny at other NC USATF races as she may be inclined to participate in the Endurance Series, like I am. What I really love about this series is that it brings out new talent that I can compete with. Sometimes I'll lose, sometimes I'll win, but either way, I know that there will always be incentive for younger talent to come out and compete hard.
Overall, I'm pleased that I executed a race strategy that allowed me to win and bring home $1000 for the family slush fund. I am not thrilled with my mentality during the race, which was rather negative through miles 2-4. Hills are definitely not my strength right now, which is understandable, but I need to be tougher on those types of courses. Looking forward to my next one!
The 2017 Boston Marathon
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