Wow, 10 years in a row for me, for this series. I thought It was somewhere around 8 and I wanted to double check so I went back and counted. 2003 was my first year. My 15K that year was 1:21:10, ave pace 8:43 and second to last in my age group. I love this series and I love my 10 shirts and 10 wooden "metals".
Diversion over, now for this years 15K. I'm writing this the day after and I already read everyone's race report so I don't feel like I need to rehash how windy it was.
My time was 1:04:17, 6:55 ave pace. This is only 3 seconds slower than last years PR. Not bad considering the less than Ideal conditions of this race.
I took 3rd in the 10K and knew this was the best I could do against the competition in my age group. The man I had to beat for 3rd was Erich Kuster, and I liked my chances in the 15K. So at the beginning of the race I sought out where he was and marked him. My strategy was to hang with him for most of the race and then throw the hammer down on him in the last mile or so. (It worked for the 10K)
My splits going out were 6:57 6:57 6:44 6:48 (32:00 flat at the turn around) and here is where it gets interesting. Erich was about 25 feet ahead of me and that's right about where I wanted him. Up to the turn around I kept him about 10-20 feet ahead of me, everything was going well. Shortly after the turn around an Ironman passed me. I knew he was an Ironman because it was on his calf and he ran a little ways in front of me on the way out and I passed him about a quarter mile before the turn around. I was very happy to see him pass me because I knew we were running about the same pace so I jumped in his slipstream and he wound up pulling me all the way up to Erich with ease. When we passed Erich, Erich said "I'm going to hitch on to this train". So the three of us ran together for for the next 2.5 miles each taking turns pulling into the headwind. It was great while it lasted, we would each pull for about 3 minutes and rotate. It was Tour de France on sneakers. Our splits were 6:59 6:56 and 7:03. Unfortunately I got dropped at mile 7. I just couldn't hang and those two began to gap me. About a half mile later, Erich got dropped.
I still had Erich in my sights and was not going to give up. I wanted that silly 3rd place white ribbon. My next split for mile 8 was 7:00. I was closing the gap on Erich but very very slowly so I gave it all I had and honestly thought I would catching him the last mile or within the last three tenths. I wound up with the fasted split of the race trying to catch him, 6:43. Not bad for the 9th mile of the race going into a stiff headwind. The last .3 was 2:10, by this time I knew I was not going to beat Erich so I probably slowed a little even though I knew I was very close to a PR. 2:10 is the equivalent to 7:13 so I really pooped the bed this last third.
At the finish I got to talk to the guy that I drafted with, Nate Marcotte and of course Erich. This was probably one of the most fun races I've ever had. It's fun to know who your competition is and be matched close enough to have a duel. If I weren't chasing Erich, I would have run slower today for sure.
Turns out, what I thought was a battle for the white ribbon was actually a battle for 4th. Water showed up, bumped Rob Murphy from Masters winner to AG 1st, Taha Mahamood 2nd and Bill Cobler 3rd. You four gentlemen are way out of my league.
Even though the conditions were bad, that meant they were bad for all of us. I was excited to compete for the white ribbon. I'm glad I did not know about Walter prior to the race. That would have changed the dynamics of the race for me and I would not have even tried for a PR due to the wind. What a day, what a race!