Today was a white out blizzard when I arrived a little after 9am. No way was I going to warm up, I sat in the car until 2 minutes before the gun went off. Once I took off I didn't think it would be too bad, but the wind was behind us, a very strong wind. It wasn't as bad as It was at 9am but it was still pretty bad. There was about two to three inches of snow on the road. The first mile was 6:57, which I pretty much where I wanted to be. After that, I missed all the mile markers. Lots' of snow and poor visibility. I know at the turn around I was 31:58 which means the wind was blowing me along at 6:52 pace.
At about a mile and a half out, I caught up to Erich Kuster. He's faster than I am but I figured I could hang with him today and hopefully we could work together on the way back into the strong headwind. It worked, we traded on and off taking pulls. I've never felt a bigger advantage drafting than I did today. When I was tucked in behind Erich it was sunny, warm and easy. I felt like I needed to push him in the back to move us along. When we would switch, the reality of the blizzard would be back in my face and it felt like running up a steep hill.
About two thirds of the way back Erich said he would let me finish in front of him. He felt like I did more pulling. At one point he wanted to drop but I encouraged him to keep it up and tuck in behind. That's probably when I did the longest pull. I was feeling great but about 3/4th of a mile out I was spent and Erich was much stronger. At the finish he gaped me by about 20 feet but he stopped short of the line and let me cross first. We are close in age so he sacrificed the age group blue ribbon. Thanks Erich, my first one in this series in 11 straight years.
It turns out I must have seen the 7 mile mark, I hit my watch 50:05 which was a 7:09.5 pace. 17:09 for the final 2.3 miles. That would have been 7:27 pace. I was dead tired. This turned out to be one of the most fun races I've ever run. Working with Erich battling the headwind, pulling and tucking for four and a half miles, the sense of comradery and teamwork in an individual sport made this race special.