Monday, February 9, 2015

Laying it on the Line at USATF Masters

I went into Saturday's USATF masters XC championsips at Boulder's Flatirons golf course hoping to medal (top 3) in my age group but I knew I'd have to have a great day. However in the days before the race I decided that I don't have control over what other runners are doing, and just to focus on getting myself ready. Now that the dust has settled a bit two days later, I don't think I could have run much better. Still came up short my goal but those guys up front just ran fantastic.

My plan was for even splits with a steady effort and that hardly could have gone better. The first 2K lap was 7:49, then 15:43 (7:54), 23:44 (8:01), and finished in 31:28 (7:44).

Tell-tale age group bibs on the back of your singlet.
On the first lap I saw three or four guys in my age group up ahead, and I just keyed on one guy with the skyblue 55-59 number on his back, trying to focus on my breathing and not to overextend so early in the game. I was about 85th place at the end of the first lap. We were fairly strung out by lap 2 and I just maintained effort, but started picking off more people. At half way, I caught 60+ ace Doug Bell and could account four 55-59 bibs up ahead.

The third lap was tactical, I worked on the closest one (who was last year's age group winner). I passed once and  he came right back, so I chilled. But being from sea level, he was breathing harder so I felt confident and was able to pull away by the end of the lap. On the last lap one more in my age group was in my sights at that point and I set out to catch him. I thought it was California's Brian Pilcher, an age group ace whom I'd seen warming up in a white singlet. I figured I was fighting for top 3.

Early laps (Michael Scott Photography 2015)
So just worked on him, and with about 600 m to go I pulled away. I did sneak a peak back over the final 200 meters just to make sure  he wasn't back on me and put in as much of a kick as I could muster (which wasn't a lot). So I ended up 67th in the masters race, and for a half hour thought I'd been top 3. However, I learned that Pilcher and two of the local Dans (King and Spale) were at least 50 seconds ahead. They had gone out very fast (the Dans by 45 seconds on the First lap and were never in sight). A little short of my goal, but realistically it couldn't have gone better. The competition was a fair amount steeper and deeper than last year. 2014s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd went 7th, 3rd, and 10th respectively this time. And last year only two ran under 32 minutes, in 2015 seven did it.

Competition, I like it! Kudos to the top guys in my age group (King, Pilcher Spale, and Greer) and all the masters who ran hard out there on Saturday.

Michael Scott photography 2015

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