Not too much drama this weekend in Pinehurst, NC for the annual Turkey Trot 21k.
The winner got out quickly and settled in as I watch from about 80-100m back for the first few miles. Another two runners had gone out with him but I was confident with a solid effort of running within myself that these runners would fall back toward me.
After about 3 miles I was in second position and still looking at the back of the leader. We reached some hills around mile 5 and I was loosening up running solid 6:07's like clockwork. The leader peaked back and saw there was still someone back there and dropped in a 5:40 mile down to the lake and the low elevation point of the course at mile 7.
There was a long stretch here and for the first time I peaked back to get my bearings before heading up into the 3-4 mile stretch of climbs. I saw that my gap on the next runner was about the gap in front of me... I figured since I felt quite good that the race was all but set for positions and I could focus on just running my best time.
Over the next few miles the splits were a tad slower hitting 6:24 and 6:31 in there on those ascents. At mile 10 the course levelled out for good and now we joined with the 10k runners. I told myself to just run this remaining 5k strong and powerfully and set out feeling like I was on a longish tempo effort. The final 5k was covered in 18:45 and I really felt that I should have pushed like this a bit sooner in the run after seeing how well I responded and how my stamina was able to compensate for the lack of leg speed I was experiencing.
The winner was done in 1:17 and I came in about 4 minutes later in 1:20:58 for second overall... and all I got was a lousy, smallish duffel bag... not that I am complaining. The goal was to test my fitness leading into the full marathon in three weeks. My goal there is to average sub-7... to 6:45 per mile. I felt very strong at sub 6:10 for 13.1; while I won't make radical changes to my pace plan, I do go into this feeling more confident that some extra speed may be there in the second half of the marathon.
One more tune up 5k in two weeks, a couple of track sessions and tempo runs mixed with a final 2 hour effort and the day of reckoning will be here. A Boston Qualifier is the only goal at Thunder Road and I am feeling like this well within my capabilities at this point.