ENOUGH WITH THE SMALL TALK. HOW'D IT GO?
This one gets an asterisk. I finished in 2:22:09, which would count as my highest age-graded score ever... but the course was almost surely short. My Garmin recorded 19.85 miles and though it's not official, my only Garmin experience has been that the mileage runs long vs. actuality.
DID YOU WIN?
On most days, in most races, on most planets, I would have been recognized as the 3rd-place finisher in my age group, since the actual fastest 30-something male was the overall winner and would have been pulled out of the age group standings. But no, I managed to find one of the extremely rare instances where the winner was allowed to double dip and claim the age group title as well. So officially, I was 4th of 35 in the 30-39 group and 9th of 202 overall.
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
Ordinarily I would not have gone into this race 2 days after logging 14.5 miles, but this was not a true target race for me so I didn't worry about tapering. After running in ridiculous Texas heat all summer, the starting temperature in the low 50s was a welcome change, and I jumped out to a quick start before settling in for as many 7-ish-minute miles as I could.
About 5 miles in, I started to overtake some of the slower runners from one of the shorter races (5K or 10K, I'm not sure which). That gave me a little boost as I split off for two loops of Bald Eagle Lake. I was in 7th place.
At some point during the first half of the first loop, maybe 8 miles in, I chased down the guy in front of me, only to have a female runner zoom by. She went on to take 2nd overall and beat me by 10 minutes, which is a pretty remarkable combination of holding back in the beginning and/or hitting the gas, since I barely slowed down at the end.
I passed the 10-mile flag in 1:10:08, putting me well ahead of my 2:23 goal. Fatigue was creeping in and I just tried to hang on as long as I could. Halfway through the second loop I started to pass the back-of-the-pack folks running their first loop, which pushed me to leave all I could out on the course. With 2 miles to go I calculated that I needed only a couple of 7:43 miles to break 2:23, which put me at ease and probably led to me easing up a little (although I'm sure that was secondary to being really, really tired).
The lake loop was quite reminiscent of the familiar loop of White Rock Lake in that much of it was in the shade (but some stretches were totally exposed) and there was minimal elevation change, with just a couple of minor inclines (the total gain for the 20 miles was safely below 300 feet). This loop was shorter at 6.85 miles and much quieter. The views of the lake were pleasant and made one think of how great it would be to live around there... just not in the winter.
7:24 pace last .86
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
I got a shirt. The overall winners got jackets from the race production company and the age group medalists got... medals (and $20 gift cards to some place I don't remember because I was bitter about not getting one).
Tour des Fleurs 20K, Saturday.