We woke up to find out there was a strong wind coming from the west. The dreaded "Return of the Westerlies". We looked at the route to figure out which part would go into the wind. The route is shaped like a big circle, with two twisty diverticula going into the circle; like Mickey Mouse's outline, except the ears point inward. The wind would be in our faces going up to the top of Mickey's head and in our backs in the way back.
My advice for the Girl was solid: find a group of guys and draft like your life depends on it. The last 5 miles, if you have any energy left, should be super fast.
The start went and a little group formed in the front. First, we were five, then four, then two. The other guy was leading into the wind, and I pulled up and told him we should try to work together. We did for a few kilometers, but every time I was drafting, it felt too slow, and every time I would lead, he hd a hard time holding on. Then he dropped off, and it was me and the lead-out bike.
The first K was 3:26 in the headwind. That's a 5:29 mile, so faster than PR pace. It felt very easy. The next few Ks were just around 3:30, right on pace for a PR. 5K in 17:36, just 6 seconds off PR pace. At this point, I was convinced I was heading for a big PR. The legs felt great, and the backwind was still ahead.
Then, the legs started getting a little heavy. The next kilometers included Mickey's ear. One K was pure backwind and yet the split was over 3:30. I tried to accelerate to get the legs to turn over faster, but they didn't oblige. I went through 10K in 35:35, ie. 35 seconds off PR pace. I still felt a PR was possible, if I had the legs on tat last windy stretch. Then came Mickey's second ear with lots of turns, including some near-180 degree turns. My legs were getting stiff; it wasn't fun anymore and I was slowing down noticably.
I came through 15K in 54:20 (or thereabout), ie. almost two full minutes above PR pace. I was so tired I thought about walking up a couple of the small hills (of which there were very few). At this point, I had the strong wind in my back and was beginning to pass the back of the 10Kers. What I had told the Girl was terribly true; a strong backwind is only worth-while if you have the legs for it. I couldn't make mine turn over nearly fast enough. It felt like running downhill with stiff legs. I came in in 1:16:xx (xx meaning something high but I am not sure how high).
Look at me here; it's hard to tell that I have lost weight lately. The legs look chunky. My form is crap; the shoulders are slouching. The photo was taken with 4 miles left. I did win, though, which was a big plus. I even won a 200 dollar gift certificate to an upscale running shoe store.
Then came what I enjoy the most at these races. I jogged to the car and got into some warmer clothes; got the Girl's stuff ready and found the camera. Drank water and ate some energy bars from the tables.while waiting for her. The first woman came in 1:28 and the next 10 seconds later. The Girl got third and a PR with a 1:33:40. Not quite what she was hoping for, but everyone agreed that the wind had made the race very hard.
She had started out with the eventual winner, going through 5K in 20:30 (!!) and 10K in 42:20. So her race was a lot like mine; she started out too fast in the headwind. This is her with 4 miles to go, looking tired but stronger than her husband.
Here is a priceless facial expression:
All in all, it was a fun race and good ending to the "fast" part of our season. Now it's time for a triathlon, a 50 mile race and the Transalpine in the fall. Maybe we can squeeze in a few shorter runs here and there.