Skyline is always one of my favorite races on the calendar. It is run on one of the faster (certified!) courses you’ll find in Charlotte, has good prizes and takes place in April when the temperatures are usually still amenable to fast running. Despite personally running a disappointing time on Saturday, the 2012 edition of this race impressed again, with notably fast times (the top 10 were under 16:40!), excellent t shirts included with the race entry, great post race food and drinks and very good prizes. A good start to the 2012 Grand Prix Series indeed!
I was pretty confident I could sneak under 16 for this race but immediately from the start of the race I could tell it was going to be a bit of a struggle. Bert shot off into the distance (a view we are going to have get used to over the next few months- come on John Compton, Bert needs someone to race against!) and I headed up the ‘chase’ group, alongside Brad Belfiore (Boston 2012 survivor) with Brad Popple (low 15s guy when fully fit I believe) just behind us and then the main peloton behind him.
The race starts up a sizeable hill and the first mile continues gradually uphill up 7th Street. If you can get through the first mile in good shape there’s a good possibility you can get a fast time as the second mile is largely flat and the third mile is mostly downhill. Unfortunately I was already feeling pretty labored through the first mile which I hit in 5:16 (last year when I ran 15:53 I had gone through at 5:09). As we turned back towards the city on 5th Street Brad was still alongside me which surprised me to be honest as he had just run Boston (expect good things from this guy when he’s fully recovered!). On Thursday we had done a recon of the course so knew that 5th Street was ‘under construction’, all rutted and ready to be resurfaced, so as planned I jumped on the sidewalk and ran on that instead of the ‘road’. Through two miles in 10:31 (last year 10:16) and stealing ourselves for the final descent to the finish line. Bert was now practically out of sight (he went on to win the race by almost a minute) and Brad (at last!) had dropped back a little. I didn’t look behind so had no clue what was unfolding behind me, I was just running as fast as I could towards the finish line which unfortunately for me wasn’t very fast
I turned on to Elizabeth and the fast descent to the finish line. Soon I heard footsteps approaching on my right and it was no other than Greg Isaacs who quickly floated past me passing on his encouragement as he went! I tried in vain to latch on but to no avail and now all I was concerned about was getting to the finish line in third place at least so that I could pick up the $75 on offer and the skyline print. Fourth place and I’d win my age group but no cash or print! The third mile was 5:10 (last year 4:59) and I finished in 3rd place in 16:12, just in front of Brad Popple and the fast finishing peloton! Billy Shue (PR!) and Mike Mitchell (1:14 recently at Race Fest) closed out the TrySports Ambassadors team so we notched the team award and free dinner at Chipotle!
I have to admit I was surprised as much as impressed by Greg’s run for second. Normally at this stage of the season Greg is running in the 17s and comes on later in the year; this year, having already run 4:44 at the Museum Mile last week, he clearly means business! In fact everyone looked in darn good early form and if this is a sign of things to come over the Summer then the Grand Prix Series should be fun and competitive (Bert excepted!). Next up, Twilight 5k a week on Friday. Always a war of attrition because of the evening heat and tough last mile, this year’s race could be even tougher and tighter than usual! Looking forward to it!