So, shortly after my post the other day expressing my hope that a few notable absentees was going to make my quest to notch another Skyline print all the more manageable, Ben posts a status update on Facebook announcing the creation of a team of him, Bob Marchinko and Brad Popple for the race. Now this made things interesting as I fully expected all three had a shot at running sub 16. Given that my combined record against Bob and Ben is probably somewhere around 48-2 in their favour, a top three finish was now certainly going to have to be earned.
The day before the race I thought about the set up of the course, the competition I was going to be facing and the favourable weather conditions in the forecast and came up with my tactics for the race. The plan was to gun it from the start, take it out hard, try and stamp some authority on the race and hang on for dear life on the last downhill mile. So I did.
As soon as the gun went off I hit the front as we headed up the hill towards 7th Street. My tactics had made an immediate impact as Bob shouted after me "What happened to easing into the race, Paul?!" I think my early injection of pace had thrown them off guard a little.
Right on 7th and the long drag up towards the mile mark and beyond. I hit the mile in 5:09. I could hear someone close behind but didn't want to look over my shoulder and see who it was. I had fully expected more people to be right there but it appeared I only had one close pursuer at thi point.
Just past the halfway point I discovered that the pursuer was Bob as he pulled alongside me. The old Paul may have taken his foot off the gas at this point and settled in to try and keep 2nd place but not today. I actually put in another little surge and created a gap again. We hit the 2 mile in 10:16 and had 'just' the downhill mile to come. Some quick math in the head and a sub 16 definitely looked a possibility. As we turned on to the last 500m descent to the finish I could hear Bob catching me and lo and behold he soon came past me. I tried to respond but was pretty much all out already and he soon had a five yard gap which he kept through to the finish.
So 2nd and 15:53, fully 29 seconds faster than I ran this race last year and a very satisfactory performance. Obviously I was pleased to get the top three finish but the most pleasing aspect of the race was how I executed the race. I was far more aggressive and less passive than usual and it worked- definitely food for thought for future races.
Oh and I'm now leading the Grand Prix standings haha!