Short Version. I won !!!
I returned this morning for the final 5k of the year in Flowers Plantation. The course was altered from the one we ran at the Turkey Trot three weeks ago to make it easier to understand and avoid the confusion that caused quite a few folks to go off course but by doing so it added a few more hills to an already hilly course.
The weather was a bit warmer in the low 40's making it about perfect for running fast. I'm not sure how many entrants there were today but there were fewer and the cross country boys didn't seem to be here as I sized up the competition.
As we started I was immediatly in the lead but I could hear footsteps close behind. This first mile was identical to the one before other than the start hard been moved about 200yds up the road on a slight hill. Since I don't race the short stuff too often and haven't done any speedwork in several months I can't judge my pace at these faster speeds too well these days. As we began up the first hill I was already feeling the effort and in my mind I was thinking there is no way I am going to run 7:09 like I did three weeks ago for the first mile.
I could hear the footsteps a little closer but I never looked back. Finally hit mile one going down a hill and I have to admit I was shocked but pumped to see it was a 6:51 !! Oh yeah !
But then of course we headed uphill and I was already making my death groans and gasp and I could tell the guy behind me was gaining on the hill. The course leveled out and then down another short hill and I opened the gap a bit but then back uphill and the footsteps were getting louder again. He didn't catch me and as the course got easier again I just put the hammer down and pushed. In a couple of minutes I could no longer hear the footsteps and was hoping I had broken him because I was really hurting but I didn't want too back off. I knew I had a shot at a big improvement and I wanted every second.
We made a right turn onto the new section of the course which was an out and back spur. Down a hill and then up a hill and then I hit mile 2 in 7:25. A big slowdown but that was a very tough mile and it was still 20 seconds faster than 3 weeks ago. Just downhill from there was a u-turn and I was not happy to see that my gap on 2nd place was not as big as I had hoped. I tried pushing up the hill but it was hurting so much and I was about to get nauseous.
I tried to gather myself on the down for the next hill but I could hear him gaining. We turned and had a short steep down hill and then the mountain loomed ahead. A very steep tough hill with half a mile to go . I could hear him getting closer but he was hurting too. I was bracing myself for the inevitable pass. I thought I was going to throw up and I wanted to back off so bad. 2nd place to a guy 20 years younger than me would not be bad and I was still ahead of pace. But I'm just not wired that way. As the gradient of the hill finally eased off some I begin to channel my inner Honey Badger. I could hear Laura's voice in my head saying to surge now and break him. And it worked. I kept him from closing the gap anymore and as soon as we made the final turn and a nice easy downhill I put the hammer down one more time and the footsteps behind quickly faded away.
A slight 200 yard uphill finish and I sneaked a peak over my shoulder and no one was there. Woohooo !
22:26 which is a 40 second improvement over 3 weeks a go on a tougher course ! Something is working in this comeback !
Stay tuned. Big things coming !