First race of my "season." I need to race a little more frequently, and this was a great chance to test my fitness and try to take down the local hero.
The race was pretty well organized, and we got underway at 7:30am. The course was sort of an out-and-back that started at Champions Square at the Super Dome, ran through downtown and part of the French Quarter, and finished on the 50-yard line inside the stadium. It was about 70F w/ a 64F dew point, which felt awesome. Local hero got out very quickly, and I felt obliged to follow. I was worried about how terrible my legs were feeling right at first, but then I saw we came through 1/4 on my watch in 71. He slowed from there and we made the 1-mile marker in 4:55, then my watch beeped 8 seconds later at 5:03 -- not sure which is more accurate since there are tunnels on the course. My watch read 3.04 for the course, but again... tunnels and an indoor finish.
The 180 turn was at 1.3, and shortly after that he slowed further and I assumed the lead. I was hoping he'd hurt himself with the fast start and figured if I continued to push the pace I'd open up a gap eventually. Didn't see a 2-mile marker but caught 10:20 at 2.05 on my watch, so I'm assuming around 5:07 watch time.
He kept throwing mini-surges at me, which I didn't think were particularly effective. He'd come from 2 yards back, I'd accelerate slightly, and then he'd back off and I'd lead again. Each surge was maybe 10s, and I only had to speed up a little bit to cover. Again I was hoping it was a sign of fatigue and that I'd be able to pull away.
A gap did open, and I increased my pace. But it wasn't enough. I should've thrown a 60s or so surge to try to open a better gap, but he eventually closed it as we rounded the Super Dome. I lost focus as we came around the Dome and missed my opportunity. The finish kind of caught me by surprise... Suddenly the entrance to the Dome came into view and he took off first. I accelerated as he passed and stuck on his tail into the dome, found another gear but his was better. I ended up backing off knowing I was beat. Finished about 2 seconds back.
It was GREAT to race again. I am SO disappointed to lose in the sprint. I have historically had difficulty shifting gears when I'm tired, and this is something I need to work on. The speed is there. Sometimes the will isn't.
PM - Added a little more workout volume to the day since this has been a lighter week and I didn't feel too thrashed by the race. 3 x cruise mile @ threshold w/ 1:00 rest.
5:12, 5:16, 5:14
Surprised myself a little. That 5:12 felt easy. The next 2 felt like work, but it felt right.