I have spent a lot of time over the past few years trying to determine the best triathlon pre-race routines so that I can go as fast as possible once the gun goes off. When I showed up for the race this morning I realized that my pre-triathlon routines don't really apply. I had no idea how to properly prepare for a running race. So, I decided to look for fast-looking people and copy what they were doing. I first stretched and then went for a little jog. I then skipped around...the fast looking guys were doing it, so I decided I should as well.
I eventually got bored with skipping and headed over to the start line. I arrived there about 10 minutes before the gun time. There was a lot of elbow room, so I positioned myself right at the front of the pack. About two minutes before the gun went off, a large group of elite runners came and jammed themselves right at the starting line. I ended up about 5 people deep. Oh well, so much for trying to get a position right up front.
Here is the course map for reference:
The gun went off and within about 40 yards the front pack started to spread out and I was able to find a clear path to run. I noticed a few guys simply take off right from the beginning, but I had the discipline to ignore them and stick with the amount of exertion that felt correct for me. At about 1.5 miles into the race, I found myself in a group of 4 people and there were about 4 others ahead of us. As we headed South on Catalina I tried to settle into a pace that was pushing, but not too much such that I would blow up before I got half way through the race. I felt pretty strong for the next couple of miles and began to pull away from the pack I was running with near mile 4. My confidence increased and I unintentionally put in a little kick as I started to head back on Esplanade. I soon backed off slightly because at that point I was starting to hurt. This wasn't the injury type of hurting, but the I'm tired as hell and want to lay down type of hurting. From that point on I kept saying in my head "just two more measly miles are left" and then when I hit mile 5 it was "just over 1 more measly mile...about 6 minutes of pain". Thinking about how much distance or time is left in a race really helps me to mentally push through to the finish line. Even though I sorta felt like I was going to die during the last two miles of the race, I felt fairly strong on the little climb away from the Redondo Beach Pier near the 5.5 mile mark. It is good to know that I can push through hills late in a race, a skill that will be crucial this year at Wildflower. Once I got to the top of the hill, I knew it was mostly downhill to the finish. I opened up my stride and let gravity pull me to the finish line. At that point, I didn't really know where I stood within race pack, but my goal was to prevent anyone from making a kick and passing me during the final stretch. I was successful in meeting that goal.
I ended up finishing 4th Overall and 1st in my Division (M30-34), with a time of 34:15. Full results can be seen here.
Here are the Garmin stats:
Overall, I'm pretty happy with my results. Finishing 4th in a race like this with a big field of real runners (not triathletes, there's a difference) seems like a pretty nice accomplishment. I also exceeded my 35 minute goal and actually finished about 13 seconds short of a PR. That's pretty good considering the fact that I would estimate my running fitness is only at about 80% of where it will be for the peak of the triathlon season. I hope I can build on this race and put together a nice 2013 race season. There's still a lot more ahead!
Sorry for the lack of pictures. Unfortunately I did not have any friends or family spectating for this race.
As always, thanks to Trisports.com for their continued support. Next race is the UCLA IronBruin on March 3rd.