I've run a couple of local races in the last month. Both were micro races here in Salida. Both were good fun, for different reasons.
First, the Tales on the Trails 5k, which was a race put on by my wife on behalf of the Arkansas Valley Humane Society. I probably would have run with one or both of our dogs, but the older one has arthritis in his hip and the younger one has a heart condition. So it was on me to carry the torch for the family.
I won in 18:53. Second place was a young woman, nearly three and a half minutes back. I ran 5:49, 5:44, and then 6:03. I was by my lonesome the entire time. The last mile was uphill and the course was about 200 meters long. Had sub-18 been on the table, I might have found the extra energy to go for it, but when I was at around 17:45 with a quarter mile to go, I just put it into cruise control.
My watch said 3.23 miles and 18:53, which was just a shade over 5:50 a mile.
Race entry was $20, and I won a pair of shoes at 7000 Feet and some other swag. Not bad.
This morning was the Spiral Drive 4 mile. The Spiral Drive 4 Mile is an old school Salida race that usually draws a decent crowd from the local running club. It goes up about 600 feet over two miles to the top of Tenderfoot Mountain and then straight back down.
Race fee was $12 and the winner got a pick axe and a new pair of shoes. All finishers received an engraved wooden plaque. God Bless Salida.
It was a toasty morning by Salida standards, but I figured that wouldn't be too big a deal, seeing as how it was only 4 miles. It was also hazy from the forest fires. Wasn't sure whether that would be a problem or not.
Race started and a local runner named Nelson Jones took off pretty hard. I started to tuck up behind him, but then looked at my watch and saw we were going about 5:20 pace into a slight uphill, so I definitely needed to take the foot of accelerator to avoid a blow up at that pace. I deferred to him as the incline steepened, and he probably had 100 feet on me at a half mile. Over the next half mile, without increasing the effort, I found myself reeling him in. And then at right around the mile marker I put in a decent surge to get ahead of him.
I threw in a couple of extra surges to see if I could sneak away, but no luck. So as we approached the top I decided instead to conserve my energy to see if I could drop him on the downhill. Here are some pics, courtesy of Tom Sobal, from near the summit.
In the second picture, that was the moment when I thought I was making the surge that was going to put the race to bed.
Not so much. About a half mile down the hill, Nelson tucked in behind me, and the two of us started running together. I tried a few more surges, but they did more to drain me than they did to put any distance on him. I mumbled something to Nelson about how he was running a great race, and he took that as a sign to drop me.
I ran consecutive 5:23 and 5:29 miles down the hill, but Nelson ran about 20 seconds or so faster.
No pick axe for me.
My watch said 25:53, 6:16/mile, for 4.13 miles between 7050 and 7650 feet. I'm very happy with the effort, despite losing the lead in the last mile.
Don't think the bad air quality affected the race much, but it's definitely affected how I've felt since. Been coughing and wheezing all day.
Not sure what's next on the agenda. I'm traveling to Ireland in July for a cousin's wedding, so that'll likely be where I try to get my 17:29. Don't know of any races that will line up for when I'm there, so I think I'll just try to find a flat stretch a ground on a day with good conditions to see if I can make it happen.
I'd like to get some good mountain runs and races in this summer as well. Thinking maybe Georgetown to Idaho Springs, Breck Crest Half, and the Sleeping Indian Hill Climb. Brother's having a kid this August, and work has been hellacious lately, so it's hard to commit to much.
Today's race was very much instructive on how I need to improve my raw speed. This Monday, I tried to do six quarters at sub-5:00 pace and couldn't manage, and I ended up averaging about 5:15 pace for the bundle. In races like today where sub-5:20 downhill miles were required to keep up, I just didn't have the wheels.
So at least I know what I need to do next. Go get some wheels.