Back to Spokane for the annual Bloomsday race and post-race fiesta.
Beautiful morning to wake up to, bright sunny skies but not too warm. Our group of 11 drove into Spokane and set up camp at the bus station, as usual, but we could have just stayed outside for the hour's wait (though it was nice to beat the bathroom crowds). We were even in the Second Seed staging area 15 minutes before the start, which might be a record for us. The extra time paid off, because I was able to sneak in a bathroom trip with like 3 minutes until the gun and still sneak up to a good spot in the crowd. That positioning was part of this year's plan, I figured I could shave a second or three by simply not wasting time stepping around people in the first 400 meters. (The goal was to drop six seconds overall, which I was very confident about and felt great about all morning.)
The start was like usual with a morass of people, but I had a pretty easy time weaving through the field this year. I think the spots just opened up my way, nothing strategic that I did. So let's say I caught a break, and ran pretty evenly and relaxed for a first mile of 5:46. I was with the Whitworth track team at that point, and let three or four of those guys pull me through the second mile, 5:50. I was a little stiff, like I didn't stretch enough, but figured the pace was correct and that I'd loosed up as we got out into the sun. The third mile was about the same, even with the smaller hill we had to climb, and I had a 5:50 again.
I lost a little momentum on the turn near Spokane Falls CC, and felt the pace slip as that road crests. I figured it was ok to float a bit because I had a downhill coming before Doomsday Hill, and ran 6:00. Still ok, as far as my goal time went, even though I knew I'd slow up on Doomsday. I was actually passed by a lot of people up the famous hill, maybe 8, but I kept the pack I was tailing in sight and tried not to let my heart race while grinding uphill. The race put timing mats on the bottom and top of Doomsday this year, so I figured people would be tempted to race it. I crested and hit the mile at 6:18, maybe a touch slower than I should have. I thought I'd get there sooner, but those mile markers are always a little farther than you think.
Mile six was the one I usually struggle with, and I did again this year. It's not tough, it's just mentally tricky to adjust the pace back down when you come off of Doomsday. I knew I needed to keep it going sub-6 there to hit my sub-44 goal, but fell prey to temptation and rested mentally a little bit. I kept the pack in striking distance but this guy was surging and falling behind all weird next to me, which maybe threw me off. The mile went by in 6:13, which was 10 seconds slow and I knew put me right on the edge for the goal time.
The pace picked up there for the group I was with and I hung with them, even put on a little surge that actually felt pretty good. I managed to keep that pace consistent through the last mile, which really whizzed by. But even a 5:53 and 2:24 (for 0.46) wasn't quite enough. I knew it when I turned the corner for the last 200m. The finish is a downhill stretch toward a bridge and I could see the digital clock pass 44:00 as I approached. Shoot, it was a 44:15. I managed to clip one guy right before the line, but I needed the guy in front of him to make Top 25 for my age group (which is a perenially goal).
I was spent, and stood there second guessing the little surges here and there that make a difference in a shorter race like that. Ah well, only 10 seconds off last year's time, so I can't cry about it. I love the course, had another wonderful experience, picked up the best finisher t-shirt of the past three years, and ate my $25 worth of pizza/donuts/fruit in the Second Seed tent. Then Mike and I cooled down for two miles as the streets of Spokane emptied, sat on the grass for an hour as our 40,000 friends left the neighborhood, then drove back to Donnie's and ate too many nachos. That's the most important annual goal, and we all nailed it.