Monday was the only day with a workout. It was our second 3 x 2 mile workout of the year, and the last. And, it went amazing, probably the best workout as a team I have ever been a part of, plus the best workout I have ever had. Two weeks ago, I ran 10:17, 10:29, 10:40. This week, a total different story. My goal coming in was to just keep it even; I did not want to run my last one 23 seconds slower than my first one. Soon after we started, those goals all went away as I clipped off the first mile at 5:03, and finishing the first 2 mile in 10:14. So, I am already faster than last week, and I wasn't even in the lead after that, Corey and Erock were a little ahead of me. The next one went out even harder though, at 4:48, and I finished really solid at 10:02, a little ways ahead of CC. I was still feeling good after that, and I made up my mind before the last one started that I was going to try to break 10 minutes. Luckily, Blake Jones elected to lead us out for the mile; I ended up passing him and coming through the mile at 4:52! After that, I had to push very very hard but I came through under 10 minutes at 9:58-59. I was pumped that I just ran a killer workout and that I felt so good. Might have been adrenaline I was running on, but nevertheless I knew I was fit!
So, coming off a fantastic workout, it was time to recover, run some pure mileage, and prepare for the first meet of the year on Friday. Shane and I had a good run at the Forest on Wednesday. Thursday I ran a nice easy 8 at the course and I was feeling good. Friday morning, race day! I woke up early and got a 2 mile shakeout run in. After that I went to the ice bath, this seemed to work the morning of the Alumni Race, so I figured I should do it again. I also had to sit through two classes on Friday. I absolutely hate going to class the day of races. Nothing is accomplished in them. I am too busy dreaming about the race and hardly listen to anything being said. I am also very antsy on night race days. I and restless and just want to get the race started. Once the race starts though, I am totally calmed down and everything is a complete standstill. An experience that only a runner can experience and I love it.
The gun went off at about 5:45 and the race began. During a big race, I spend the first minute of a race getting settled in, eyes shooting back and forth, looking for space, and trying to get a decent position. This race though, The Shawnee State Invite, I don't have to worry about that stuff, I just got out in front of the pack. Linkous got even more in front of the pack. He went out like a rocket and got a good 10 meters ahead of everyone. No one went with him. Then, after that it was CC, Galen, Shane, and I. The only other person besides Shawnee guys was a kid from Mount Vernon Nazareth. His name is Mark and he beat me at Nationals last year. I started working on reeling in Linkous once we went through the mile. I was at 4:58, a pretty good time to be at. I didn't catch Linkous until about 2.25 miles. Once I got with him he dropped back some and I was in the lead by myself. This feeling is pretty cool, when you know the entire field is chasing you, it might be one of the toughest things to do as well, but I felt comfortable. At that point, I thought I might be able to open a bigger gap. I put in a surge and still had a lead till after 3 miles. I then realized that I actually was unable to pull away from everyone, because Galen pulled up beside me and I had to work hard to stay with him. Soon after, CC game up with us and that’s when I got behind. Corey and Galen kept going and I couldn't respond. Well, I was trying to respond by pushing myself harder and trying to get back with them, but it never happened. All that time though, I still kept them close and gave myself a chance to pass them. At one point I got within a couple seconds of Galen but never could get up with them. Corey ended up pulling away and winning, Galen came in second and I rolled in at third. We were rolling pretty hard at the end of the race, I think that each one of us knew how fit everyone was and it was going to take a lot to hold on to the lead. Corey did a great job. He ran a PR of 25:44, Galen ran 25:47, and I ran a PR of 25:53.
We were not the only ones to have a good race though. Before I knew it, we had 8 guys through the chute! Chuck ended up finishing 4th at 26:04, Link at 26:06, Shane at 26:07. Hickey was 7th with a 26:18, and Joe was 8th at 26:24. The next guy was the Mount Vernon kid at 26:30. So, we took top 8 spots, a perfect score, and 5 of the 8 PR'd. As for the rest of the team, counting the redshirt guys, we had 20 guys under 30:16. Stellar!
There are a couple comments I want to make concerning the race. First is that I made a bad decision in deciding to wear flats. I should have never did this. Sure, I PR'd and felt comfortable over the rocky areas, but I did not have the extra help while I was trying to run down CC and Galen. I am not saying I would have won the meet with spikes, but I am for sure they would have helped me. I will never make that mistake again. The only reason I wore them was for the rocky spot on the course by the 2 mile mark. The next issue about the race is how tactical it became. Four different guys led the race at one point, Link, CC, Galen, and me. Any of us could have won the thing. This will happen in a small meet though. With other guys to race, we will be able to work a lot more efficient with our teammates and not waste energy being in front of a big pack, or being alone.
All in all, how can I not be happy? What a way to start the season! I am so excited about how good we can be. The possibility of getting 5 guys under 26 is a huge reality now, and it could even happen at Cedarville on the 19th. Until then, we have to work even harder and keep our head in the right place. For me, I am really happy with the way I felt during the race. I felt strong and relaxed the entire way. I never broke down like I used to do in races. I feel fit and it is showing.
We are Bears......