Knowing this was going to be my last race of the year, I put in a final block of hard training with my usual training partners, Mercy Ray and Bree Ray. In addition to the Ray sisters, we pulled together some workouts with other friends and teammates who would also be racing in Seattle, namely Bob Julian, Maggie Donavan, and Dave Engstrom. Doing these workouts together in the weeks before the race helped get us all excited and ready physically and mentally to race cross country. In addition to Bob Julian and I on the BAC masters team, Mercy and Bree and Maggie represented the Rogue Valley Runners women's open team and Dave ran with a Oregon Track Club masters team.
With about one kilometer left to run I heard a guy coming up on me breathing hard and rhythmically like an air compressor working in overdrive. As this heavy breather caught me, I realized it was my friend and fellow competitor Joe Dudman from Portland. At first I thought, what the heck was Joe doing behind me, but that thought passed quickly as I heard my brain say “Stick with him, go with Joe”. I managed to tuck in behind for about 100 meters, but Joe was pushing hard and I was just hanging on. Joe pulled away and kept it up to the end bettering me by 11 seconds.
Since I was on the B team, I knew I was not in the scoring for a possible podium finish for the BAC, but our A team had to be in the running for 2nd or 3rd. First place was sewn up easily by the men from the Atlanta Track Club, aided by the overall masters winner. In the end, they scored an impressive 22 points and walked away with first. The race for 2nd and third was a little tighter, but in the end, the BAC A-Team finished fourth just one point away from a tie for 3rd. Had we tied and gone to the score of the 6th man BAC would have won the tie breaker. In fact, the depth of the BAC A and B squads was such that our B team, which I was the fourth runner, still finished 10th in the team scoring and with the exception of the Atlanta Track winning team, our 6th through 11th (all the rest of our team) were the fastest performer for those relative team positions.
This race and running with the BAC team was a great finale to my best running year so far. I was able to run lifetime PRs in the 5k, 10k, and marathon and even run faster over 5k and 10k than I did many years ago in High School. I set what I thought at the time were ambitious time goals (16:45 5k, 35:00 10k, 1:18:00 half marathon, 2:45:00 marathon) at the beginning of the year, and while I only achieved two (sub-35 minute 10k, sub-1:18 half marathon), I came close in all and trained myself to a level of fitness that made them all a real possibility if not probable. Along the way, I found some great training partners in the Rogue Valley and hope to continue on the same upward trajectory. Although I am relatively new to being a competitive masters runner, having taken so many years off from running, I am still improving and waiting to find that point where aging catches up with improving performance. So far it hasn’t arrived. Until then, I’ll keep training even harder, and hopefully smarter, than last year, and see where I can take this.
Time to rest and set some new goals and challenges for 2012. See you at the races.