Last weekend Coach Heins took a small group of five from the distance team out to Palo Alto, CA to run some fast times and enjoy the good weather. However, whether either of those was actually accomplished is debatable. We were welcomed to California with rainy skies that wouldn’t let up but for maybe three times: when we got on the track to do our strides on Friday, about 10 minutes prior and 30 minutes after our race on Saturday morning, and during the faster heats on Saturday night. Otherwise, it was raining.
My trusty sidekick Tim Freriks and I raced, as I just mentioned, on Saturday morning in the slowest heat of the 5k. Like most distance runners, Timmy is a pretty consistent guy — he has thought through most things and rarely flip flops. So when we heard that we were in the slower morning section, just like our 3k last month at Husky Invitational, Tim was a little upset that we wouldn’t be racing in the evening with the more intense atmosphere. Since I haven’t really raced outdoor track since 2008 (2 races in 2009 as a redshirt), I could care less. (Sorry to throw you under the bus, Tim)
The race had a fairly large field, with two alleys and 27 total athletes. The first mile or so was pretty bumpy, but I was more than comfortable holding my own in the pack. In these “slower” heats, there tends to be a lot of freshmen and sophomores who are not as experienced. They probably haven’t done battle in the middle of the main pack at NCAA Cross before. (where you learn to fight or die)
The pace started off quick enough, running 69s for the first 800. The pace lagged a bit from there, and Tim took it over. Once he started pushing the pace, the race strung out a lot. I felt fairly comfortable through about halfway, but began to slow considerably the last mile. My last few laps had some 72s in there, which really killed my time. I ended up closing in just a 68 and running 14:37.66 for 13th place. After the race, Coach Heins told me I looked really tired the last mile, which is probably the result of three consecutive 100-mile weeks and a 20 miler six days before the race. All that considered, I’m content with a 13 second PR to start off the season.
Next up is a STEEPLECHASE in Albuquerque this Saturday. This will be my first steeple since 2009. The goal is just to get one in for experience points, but of course I’m always looking to run a PR (9:09 in 2008).