Brisk morning for a race - in the 20's, but the sun was shining and only a (very) slight breeze from the South. With 3' snow drifts at my house it was nice to run on 99% snow free trails.
Going in to the race I was a mix of curious and hopeful of how I would do. After the race I am okay w/ how I did, would have liked to have done better - but am accepting that with the arthritis in the knees limiting the ability to train well - the race was a good reflection of my current fitness level and therefore, ability.
I wanted to go out at a 7:30 pace for the first couple of miles, then see how things were from there - gradually increase if possible. 15:04 at mile 2, doing okay - no aches or niggles but also not feeling super strong. Maintain. Mile 4: 30:20. By the end of mile 4 I knew there would be no 1:35 finish (pipe dream goal).
So, I just kept on going - gradually losing a second or more per mile pace as each mile went by. At the turnaround point I was about 65th overall. For the next 3 miles it was a mix of being passed by the occasional runner, me passing the occasional runner.
W/ about 3 miles to go at the last aid station 2 ladies had eased up behind me, one of them being the eventual Masters winner. I decided to try hang with them the rest of the way in - requiring more effort but I was able to keep within 20 feet of them both for the next 2 + miles.
W/ a half mile to go, I tried to push more and caught back up to them - all the while we were catching two other guys ahead who were dropping back to us. It was a good thing they were there as the competitive juices in me used them as targets. With about a 1/4 mile to go I passed the 2 ladies and bridged the gap to one of the guys. That last few minutes was a blurr, definitely accentuated by a lack of oxygen to the brain - but I managed to pass by the one guy and squeeze in front of the other guy with about 10 feet to spare from the finish line. Spent.
1:41:27 officially, 60th place overall (367 finishers), 9th out of 59 in the (40 - 49) age group. As mentioned earlier - a good reflection of where I am at in my physical abilities as a runner.
What's next? In the short term - some slightly aching quads but really not too bad. Will take a couple of days of not running, maybe some stationary bike and / or eliptical work and then run w/ #12 the last 2 races of the Winter Distance Series. I'll run when I can, sticking to the trails, enjoying where I live and make the most of each opportunity to run.
Here is a pic of yesterdays race - w/ about 1 1/2 miles to go. Kind of sums up where I am at w/ running mentally - I'm the guy in the middle of the photo - a little out of focus - running to keep up, running to keep life in focus. Eh, not really - the other photo I found of me running yesterday my eyes were closed, head down, looking like I was about to cry / pass out / or both.