I came into this race hoping for some guys to run with. Unfortunately, the Rock n Roll series is on a serious decline since Triathlon bought them, but last year there was a nice group in the 1:10-1:11 range, with the winner in low-1:09. With an elevation profile that looks like this:
I wanted to set myself up for a potentially fast race. I was feeling fatigued from the last couple weeks and took a big taper from Thursday on. I felt really great on race day.
Unfortunately, none of those 1:09-1:10 guys returned. Kevin Castille was on the line, and I know well enough to just let him go. He ran away with it in 1:05:58. Blazing fast for a solo run. I started quick to get away from the crowd, but then settled into ~5:20 pace. One guy followed me, but he dropped back after about a half mile and I was alone, and I remained alone from there.
The weather was decent, sunny and starting in the mid-50s and warming a bit through the race. Winds were about 5 mph, and I knew that holding pace would get tough into the wind. The first 4.5 miles had a tailwind down St. Charles, and I went 5:19, 5:19, 5:12, 5:17 for the first 4. Felt great, and I was happy to bank a little time on the 1:10 mark. Hit the U-turn at Audobon Park and turned back into the wind and slowed a little. Miles 5-7 in 5:17, 5:22, 5:23. I was feeling okay, but the pace was starting to get tough with the headwind, and I couldn't maintain it solo. Around mile 10 the course would turn towards City Park, and I knew from there the wind would be favorable. If I could reach 10 in 53:30 I'd need 16:30 over the last 5k to have a shot at cracking 1:10.
In last Saturday's long run, I tried taking some honey at 10 miles before starting the 10 miles @ MP. I got a nasty side stitch that just about derailed the run, and it resurfaced here in the second half of the race.
Miles 8-10 cut through downtown and the French Quarter. The wind and the side stitch got to me. 5:28, 5:28, 5:31. Clock read 53:35 at 10, and I wasn't sure I could manage a 16:25 last 5k. Figured I really needed 16:20 to be safe. I picked up the pace and reached mile 11 in 5:25 leaving me in more of a hole. 3rd place was a few minutes behind, I was hurting, and I eased off the gas a little. Mile 12 & 13 slowed to 5:30 & 5:43.
I'm bummed. Not so much that I packed it in (though that doesn't feel great) but more at running the thing solo. Looking beyond this spring, I'd like to make the effort to run bigger races. I'm just not going to reach my goals racing solo.