As the defending champion and with great running conditions on Sunday, I had high hopes heading into the 2015 Super Half. I also had some pretty high goals - I wanted to defend my title and break the course record. My training had been focused on the running since we'd gotten back from our Utah trip, building both the endurance, volume and speed. Coming into the race, I was confident about the edurance but still felt my speed was lacking. My workouts were indicating that I should have been able to run just around 1:29 - but it would have been close. Between a low running volume and focused training on endurance mountain biking, speed on two feet has been hard to to find!
After my warm up, I gave my coat and pants to Nick and found a spot on the line. It was a little nippy in my shorts standing in the shade, but I knew I'd be fine once we got started. Tim gave us a few last minute instructions and blew the starting whistle. Once again, the Woodland Park HS band and choir sent us on our way. A bit of a fast start - everyone was in a hurry to warm up! I was in second, right on the heels of leader, trying to find my stride. The pace should have felt comfortable, but I wasn't settled. I just felt off. Hopefully it was just the shock of racing again. I tried to settle the doubts in my mind and kept my focus on the purple jersey in front of me. She looked smooth and comfortable while I felt choppy and stiff. First mile came and went - faster then I'd wanted but expected given the downhill start. It would be the next mile that would tell the tale.
Due north on the Santa Fe Trail, I was sliding slowly backwards - losing contact with the leader. Just about mile two and another woman caught me, sending me into third. I was feeling better, but still not settled. And we weren't even at mile 3 yet. On the little jaunt out to the road and back, two more women caught me. Nick was waiting to take some photos there and I indicated my displeasure in how I feeling to him. As usual, he ignored it and told me to keep pushing.
Time to get my head together and focus on the race. I was in fifth, and starting to feel a little better. My mile times weren't as fast as I wanted, but I was consistent. The workouts I'd done on the course were also helping as I knew the little hills and dips. At the turn around, I was able to see how far back I was from the other women - further then I could make up in six miles, but maybe I could close the gap a little. There were also some women very close behind me. Up until then, I'd been working to hold 7:00 pace - well off my goal of 6:45s. But the physical issues I'd been dealing with seemed to have subsided. If I could pick up the pace and hold, I would be able to maintain my fifth overall.
Finally. The feeling of running that I loved. It was still harder then I wanted but I was flowing and feeling smooth with each stride. It wasn't super fast, but it was faster then I had been running! I was no longer sliding backwards - actually starting to reel in some of the guys around me. I stopped fretting over my watch and the pace it was telling me. I wasn't going to meet my time or place goals, so it was time to just run as hard as I could. I still hit the split at every mile, but I wasn't looking. Just running.
Nick was just before the entrance of Monument Valley. He gave me some intel on distance between me and fourth. Two miles? Wasn't gonna happen. He also told me I had a tail - needed to keep moving. I hit mile 13 right at 1:30 - slower then I wanted but with a good back half, unlike last year. I'd held on to fifth overall and gotten 2nd in my age group against some very fast women, with a two minute improvement from last year. And I realized that I'm far enough away from my running that I need to keep a better base. I can't just expect to be able to run 6:45s any time I want anymore without training. But it was a great day for a race - and nice to see so many people out supporting the Colorado Springs running community.