So I guess Saturday went about as well as could be expected and I’ll mark it in the ‘average’ category
I woke up feeling a lot better than I had done Friday morning but could still tell during my warm up that my heart rate was far more elevated than usual and that the race was going to be a real struggle towards the end.
I planned to head out as conservatively as possible but a couple of things scuppered that idea immediately. Firstly I found myself positioned away from my rivals on the left hand side of the two starting locations. After the ‘gun’ went off I shot down the left side of the median and was having to shout ahead to the race director to ask him when I needed to break over to the right and join the rest of the race. Not an ideal start.
Once I did get across and join the rest of the field I found myself in the lead but immediately joined by Chris. He was hammering it so of course I just tried to settle in with him. I was feeling pretty decent at this point so just went with it. That meant I was probably 5-10 seconds ahead of where I needed to be at the mile. We ran side by side for the second mile too but our pace had dropped significantly as we climbed the toughest section of the course and I was paying attention to Chris rather than the pace. Chris dropped back and I was joined instead by Richard, who had run a much more even paced race and was having a great day. We ran stride for stride for the next half mile and I could tell that Billy wasn’t far back either at this point as I could hear his name being cheered a few seconds after mine as we passed people!
As we approached East for the final time and the long slog up to the finish my pace started dropping and Richard got a gap. His motivation to win his first race, get a pr and get some decent points ahead of Chad and Billy in the GP series was clearly going to trump my general feeling of blah and so it proved, Richard being able to cruise to victory with little fight put up by me. It was a highly impressive performance from Richard and a significant moment in his running career. Big PR and a GP race victory. Not to be sniffed at, great job Richard! I held on to second ahead of Billy and collapsed in a suitable heap at the finish line. My time of 16:24 was my 2nd slowest on that course but probably about as fast as could have been expected.
Immediately after the race I went over to congratulate Richard and headed out for a cool down with a big group of people, licking my wounds but at the same time contemplating the bigger picture. Also Saturday underlined again how great the Charlotte running community currently is. So many friends to race hard against and so many people who weren't racing out there supporting (rumour has it there were three Olympic Trials qualifiers cheering us on). Good stuff.