The first 5K was rocket fast. Actually I thought the leaders went out quite conservatively. It was the chase pack of about 6 (what do you call the 2nd pack that has no chance of catching the lead pack?) that went out a little fast. My goal was 10s/mile faster than last years pace. Instead I was 15s/mile faster. I was in 10th or 11th place at the 5K marker. The only one in the pack that I recognized was Nathan Alsobrook, who I couldn't keep up with over the O trail at the Bruiser last summer.
2nd 5K: Where'd everyone go?
On the climb to the yurt, I kept pace but the pack slowed. By the time I left the (super awesome) yurt aid station, I was alone in 6th place with Peter Sedgwick about 10-15s on me. At some point in the farm field behind the yurt, Ben Schaeffer (age 18) caught me and we ran together for a few miles. Apologies to Ben for not being more talkative but I really wanted to avoid getting a sidestitch! By the time we were 1/2 way around the farm field we had put quite a lead on the pack that we had just been in. Where'd they go? We passed Peter on the first hill into the Valley Farm loop. For this split, I averaged 8s/mile faster than 2010 but this included a really slow mile 5
3rd 5K: Running alone
Ben stayed with me until the last pass through the yurt (totally awesome) aid station but fell back at the yurt. After this, I was in 5th place, running alone and with no visible runner in front or behind me. Feeling good but I was clearly dropping down to my 2010 pace.
4th 5K: Wheels come off
I made it to the Grove with a sub 1:50 pace, which was my goal but the cloverleaf part of the Campus loop did it's damage - I was balancing on the knife edge of a side-stitch. I focused on breathing and made it to Oak Hill in good shape. Soon after the little field section in Oak Hill, the stitch escalated enough that I was worried. I was in 5th place and didn't want the stitch to escalate into the debacle from 2009 so I fully stopped and did about 40s of deep breathing bending over and stretching, then got on my way and feeling quite good. And I was still running alone with no visible runners behind me.
5th 5K: And the axles too
On the gradual climb in the Gloucester Hill loop the stitch was knocking on the door again. I stopped again and repeated my bending over and stretches - again 35-40s. Just as I was ready to run again, Denis Tranchmontagne caught me. I started running again and re-passed him. Very soon after passing him the stitch knocked again and I stopped again. Another 35-40s of stretching and breathing and Stephen Wagner passed me. He was looking pretty strong too. I took off and hung with him and we caught Tranchmontagne. I stopped at the Oak Hill aid station for water (I didn't want to drink the water while running because this screws with my breathing and that would induce the stitch). By the time we ran out of Oak Hill onto the final field I was maybe 20s behind Tranchmontagne and 40s behind Wagner. I picked up the pace some but didn't really begin to press until the turn at the bottom of the field. By the top of the field I caugh Tranchmontagne but couldn't catch Wagner.
3rd year racing this and I've yet had what I think is a really good race. I got a 1 minute PR but failed to go sub 1:50, which is disappointing. I never let my stitch escalate into unrunnable pain but stopped to let it subside. I had about 2 minutes of stoppage so this cost me my sub 1:50. Or maybe it saved the race because I was 6th overall, which is a bit surprising, especially given the depth of the field last year. Unfortunately I was 5th in my age group (WTF?), so didn't take home any hardware. BUT we did take home the 25K team award and Acidotic Racing graciously rewarded us with a case of Red Hook ESB. Thanks guys!
Brutally humid. 'nuff said.