On Saturday a group of us met at the Heritage race site. It was mostly b-teamers and a few close friends. Believe it or not there was a chill in the air. I had planned ahead and grabbed a pair of arm warmers and a wind vest for the ride.
We headed out on the course and rode the Mighty Magnolia route. If you have been on hills all summer you will definitely notice the lack of flats. I had brought a new friend along for the ride. They are just getting into triathlon and they have been build base miles on the trace. That first loop was an eye opener. About half way through the course he had dropped off. I held back and finished the ride with him. It took it in great stride. The ride had highlighted some weaknesses (new rider, hilly course) and he started to mentally construct his winter cycling plan know that come spring he would be better, stronger, faster.
The group got another loop of the course. This time without the arm warmers and wind vest. The temperature had turned perfect with the rising sun. We regrouped at near the lake and after a slow transition Robin pumped up the crowd and wanted a handicapped, staggered start to the 3 mile run course. He was the only one wanting to time trial. Robin and I are cut from the same cloth. Many times I am the instigator. The other times it is Robin. I said I was not looking for an all out effort. Robin looked at me and said, “Isn’t everything a race?” He knew he had me. I am fond of saying, “If this is not a race then how am I winning?”
I told Robin to treat this like a race and give me a minute a mile head start and chase me down in the last quarter mile. This has happened in so many races. I build a slight lead on Robin to just have him pat me on the shoulder as he passes. He usually says, “Come on let’s go!” I am always gone by that point but somehow I muster something more – just not enough.
I took off on the run at a hard effort. The run course is equally hilly at the Mighty Magnolia. I decided I wanted to just run by pace and zeroed in on 6:30 miles. This would be a hard effort on such a challenging course. There were no cones to mark the course. There was red paint from last year but it had faded. I was running hard and my breathing was very labored but the legs came good. I was enjoying the run, enjoying the suffering. I have been running a lot of intensity but it does not compare to being chased. You find an extra gear. You can do more.
I ran the first 2 miles at exactly a 6:30 pace – while the run was hard it was a measured output. Even on such short run I did not want to blowup and fade. Unfortunately I missed a short out and back section on the course. I had picked up the pace for a strong finish and hit the start / stop line with 2.71 miles on the Garmin. Robin never caught me – and wouldn’t have but I wanted the full 3 miles. Just for the record I was not the only one to get turned around. About half of us ran different courses.
My splits for the effort were – 6:42 / 6:29 / 6:13 (last split was 0.71 miles) for an average of 6:29. It was a solid effort on tired legs. I am glad Robin was there to throw down the gauntlet. His splits were closer to 6:00 even – much faster than mine but not by a minute. I believe he has run this course in the 5:30 range!
After the run we headed towards the lake. The water was in the mid-70’s and was cold when we waded in. We had a short swim and we warmed up to the water. The lake now felt awesome. It was refreshing and good for the legs.