“I’m like a mosquito, I love humidity. I don’t sweat.” -Shakira
I generally enjoy opening my blog posts with a quote because it really sets the scene. Here we have Shakira utilizing a simile to explain that she has figured out how to hinder the body’s response to cool itself off in hot conditions. Shakira’s backward evolution is puzzling but what I am envious of is that she “loves humidity”. Last weekend in Jacksonville while racing the Gate River 15k (US Champs), I was everything but in love with this repressive weather phenomenon. Gun time conditions according to the “Hourly Weather History and Observations” table for March 12th was a meager reading of 100% humidity. Fortunately the temp was only 66 degrees. By the end of the race the humidity had subsided considerably but that was mostly due to the fact that the cloud cover we were enjoying while warming up had fled and the sun was completely out, beating down on us as we raced through the streets of Jacksonville. I trained in the heat and humidity for, well all of my running related life, and now I live in a region that prides itself on how dry it can be. Needless to say, I should have spoken to Shakira before the start of Gate to see how she mentally breaks down moisture in the air.
The point I am attempting to get across is that I was sweating profusely through out the race. I was hoping that somewhere in the beginning of it all, my body would remember how much training in Austin sucks and grace me with the ability to be “cool” but that never came about. I figure everyone else was feeling the same because we ran a tactical 15k, one that mimicked the start of a national final 1500 (maybe not that slow). Through the first few miles as we left the Jacksonville Jaguar stadium area and wound through Downtown and “uptown” (not sure on this one), our pack of 30 just felt out the pace and really only concerned ourselves with maneuvering turns. Our first 5k was just about right at 15:00. I avoided grabbing water in this region of time but once we crossed into that second 1/3 of the race, I did everything I could to dump full cups on myself and gasp for air. Somewhere around the 4/5th mile my “old-self” finally took presence and I made a quick move up to the front of the pack and tried to space things out a bit. While I was in the middle of this surge, I hit a wall and really started feeling the conditions of the day. I fell back into the pack (now 10-12 strong) and was pleased to see that the move helped space things out and regained some confidence. A few other moves were made here and there over the next 5k but anytime someone charged to the front you could just see their hesitation and eventual pull back as they allowed someone else to take the lead. We hit 10k in 30:04 and from 6 to about 7.5, no one was looking to win the race. Well I guess everyone was “looking” but no one wanted it. We then hit the “green monster” or the only hill on the course which is actually just a very large bridge heading back into the stadium area. This uphill section of this bridge encompasses the 7(ish) mile mark to right about 8.3. This mark is important because there is a mat laid out where the final mile begins to create a challenge for the fastest last mile. Anyways, we charged the bridge and immediately casualties began to follow. By the time the pack had reached the crest, we only had 5 bodies remaining. Around this point I attempted to put in my final surge in hope that it would stretch things once again and it did, but I saw the negative impact as 1-3 stretched in front of me. I was able to hold on to fourth with a 4:20 last mile and can at least hold solace in the fact that I “only” lost 12 seconds to eventual champion, Stan “the man” Kebenei.
Overall, I was very pleased with the performance. Tactical racing is not always my strong suit when it comes to having to kick relatively close to the finish line. Definition: I do not have a lot of closing speed. So when I can avoid that, I try. I did come into the weekend wanting a top three finish but after the fact, we evaluated the effort and decided that the 4th place spot was an admirable feat. You obviously never want to be too disappointed in a top 5 finish in any sort of U.S. championship but I really like winning so not winning is just a loss in my eyes. Black and White. Richard Fannin and Race Director Doug Alred put on a fantastic experience at the Gate River Run and as a newbie to the race, I could not have been more impressed! As the Elite Coordinator, Richard was seemingly in control of everything that concerned me for the few days I spent in Jacksonville. From airport pick up to the after race festivities, I was never in question of what I needed to be doing or where I needed to be. 9 out of 10 would do again (Richard can you fix the humidity?).