The somewhat-annual trip north for Nookachamps seemed promising early in the week: weather was dry but cold, I was feeling good, my dad was in town to join on the drive and watch. The weather report changed Friday, however, and stuck us with a day that qualified as the race's "winter running" advertisement.
Temp in the 30s and rain and sleet/slush the whole drive up (at least the organizers have the mercy to start the run at 10). Warmed up for two miles in a sideways rainfall, and I have to admit I wasn't really encouraged. But our old friend Dal Wylie was at the gym, so that brightened things. Dal is 70 or so, he's the old dairy farmer who taught me to run long distances for training in high school. He and his farmer buddies had a running group, and Wednesday evenings they'd do 10-15 around the fields or in the hills. He knew my dad, so he started dragging me along; and look how that turned out.
I stripped down and headed to do a few strides in the rain on Laventure, there was a big field as usual. Ran into Mac Cameron at the start line, he's one of my XC buddies from high school who I haven't seen since then. So at least I had a distraction from the weather.
A group of the 10k runners grouped together from the start (there was also a 5k and half). Five of us or so ran a 5:44 first mile, which ends with 1/4 mile or so of an uphill, then blazed a 5:30 second mile, which has a nice long descent. The pack had broke loose at that point, but I kept a guy in orange in sight, since he told me he was running 36:00-pace. I felt good until he turned off Swan Road to the hill that goes up to Baker Heights. A southern wind blew straight in our face at that point, and it was icy. Then the hill comes after 1/4 mile -- that split was destined to suck, so maybe it's ok I missed it. I still had orange guy in sight at the top, but two others had pulled between us. I got my act together on the 4th mile when the course leveled out, though I was feeling the cold and wet. I'm guessing the splits were 7 (or more) and a little over 6 minutes for those two.
At that point I caught a really small kid, he was 15. Really tough kid, he was hurting but he wouldn't let me go. I thought I'd shake him right away, but he stuck with me to the end until I outkicked him. So it was kind of fun to have some competition for the last miles, especially the Martin Road hill (another steep one) and the cruise through the SVC track. I had lost sight of orange shirt and the rest of the top five during mile 5 and actually stopped looking at my watch sometime in there, so it was good to have the kid keep me somewhat focused so I could finish with a good kick. Crossed the line at 37:40, I think I was seventh and maybe second or third age-group, and of course it stopped raining then.
The time was slower than I wanted, but still a faster race than two years ago on the same course, when the weather was gorgeous and sunny. So I'll take it as a positive sign for where I'm at. I do need another 10k this year though, I'd like to see what I can do on a course without so many hills, and maybe on a sunny day.
Mile cool down around the college, then went for some chili -- they scorched it, and ran out of coffee. Boo. So we bagged the awards ceremony and went for burritos.