This was the first race that I had targeted as an “important race” since the McMullen Mile. It was the least established of the 2010 Rochester Runner of the Year series (and it had no prize money), so I figured I would be able to pick up quite a few points for the RROY competition.
The race was a 12K (strange distance for a road race) through the rolling hills surrounding Mendon Ponds park. Josh also attended, but due to his upcoming Dutchess County Classic Half Marathon, he planned to run no faster than 5:50 per mile splits.
At the starting line, we noticed that none of the fastest local guys were present, so it seemed likely that we would contend for the win (a somewhat rare occurrence for us in Rochester, particularly for a RROY series race). My plan was to take the pace out around 5:35 to 5:40 and cruise at that speed for as long as possible. I hoped to take the uphills conservatively but to hit the downhill and flat portions aggressively.
After the “gun,” or rather “Ready, Set, GO!” (does Fleet Feet have a non-violence policy or something?), I darted out to the front and no one came with me, which was surprising because my pace did not feel particularly fast. My legs immediately start to beg my brain: “Maybe we can win this without having to work too hard!” But the logical part of my brain responds with: “No! You’ll be much happier with yourself if you win AND throw down a great race time.” But then the lazy part chimes in with: “Eh, you’ve been training too hard, it’s hilly and windy, just take it easy, fool.” Maybe the lazy brain was conspiring with my legs… In any case, I knew Josh wouldn’t be too far back, and he would be more than happy to out-kick me if I were to allow complacency to take over.
I came through the first mile in 5:49. I knew I wasn’t hammering it but it certainly didn’t feel quite that slow. I made a half-hearted attempt to push the pace and split the second mile in 5:30. Very suspicious. Josh and I would later agree that the first mile marker was a bit long. Third mile, 5:40. I was feeling strong at this point, and a glance over my left shoulder on a left-hand turn confirmed that I had opened up about a 20 second lead on Josh. I definitely should not have looked back because the newfound knowledge intensified the lazy brain’s influence: “Just run 5:50s, piece of cake. That’s all Josh is doing and your lead is plenty big.” Sure enough, I split both the fourth and fifth miles in 5:53. Main lesson learned from this race: don’t look back because that just means you can run faster.
The last two miles were quite severely into the wind, which along with some uphill sections, slowed me down considerably. I had trouble keeping the pace under 6:00. I need to get used to these longer races again. The good news is, I managed to take the win, which was satisfying. I’ve been feeling fitter lately, and now that the weather is improving, I am really looking forward to some great workouts and races. Josh finished a strong second place (which gave RKR the 1-2 sweep!), and he’s looking strong for his upcoming half marathon. Stay tuned to RKR for updates.
Full results for the 12K are here.