Wow, I haven't done one of these in a long, long time.
The Brianna Becker 5k was a 2 lap course following roughly a square pattern. The start/finish line was on the right side of the square. It and the bottom side were mostly flat. The left side consisted of 4 hills, while the top side of the course started at a high point that went into a slight dip in the middle to another high point at the other corner, which swept back down around the turn into the start/finish line.
When the gun went off it was a moderate pace with a small field. Everybody stayed bunched up down the first stretch, through the right hand turn, and along the next stretch. Then, after the second right hand turn (where I passed the eventual female winner of my age group), into the hills, the pack was tested and began to stretch out a little bit. The first mile marker was just on the other side of the first hill, and my watch said I had completed that mile in just under 8:00--way, way too fast.
I chugged through the next 3 hills and up the long, slow slope before the last right hand turn of the lap. I swept over the hill and down toward the lap marker and saw the time was 12:38. Again, way, way too fast. I glanced over my shoulder and saw 4 guys running together about 30 or 40 feet behind me. One of these guys ended up being the winner of my age group.
I motored down the front stretch, around the right hand turn, and into the next right hand turn. The 4 guys were still behind me by about 20 feet or so. Then, up the first hill, I felt my legs finally begin to weaken. One of the 4 guys--the age group winner--passed me right on top of the hill while the other 3 hung back. At the bottom of the second hill the next hill 2 of the next three passed me and the third caught me at the top of the third. By the bottom of the third hill the last guy had put 20 feet between me and him. Right about here we started passing the walkers who were at the back of the pack--that was a cool feeling. I managed to close it to about 10 feet before the start of the 4th hill, but he dropped me on that hill and I was never able to close the distance again.
Along the back stretch and up the final sweep I glanced over my shoulder and saw the female age group leader catching up to me, but still a good 50 or 60 feet back. I topped the hill and turned on the final burn. As I approached the finish line the clock read 25:50... :51, :52, :53,.... I kicked it up one more notch ... :54... final time was 25:55.
This topped my previous best time from 2009 by nearly 4 minutes!!
The miles lately have clearly been paying off.
The next target in my sights is a 54:00 10k, and I'm taking a shot at that on April 23.