First off, a thank you to Simon of RunColo for the comp into this race.
There are a ton of races that fundraise for various different charities and causes, and this one was run in memory of a local girl, Sierra, who died two years ago from meningitis. Not only was it run in her memory, but also as a fundraiser for meningitis charities, and in its second year this race attracted a massive (for Northern Colorado) 1,300 runners. It felt like a lot of hard work went into the organization for this race, and they did a great job ensuring people realized why they were there (today was World Meningitis Day). In addition to conveying their message, the organizers had rounded up an army of volunteers and a ton of sponsors. I am guessing this race raised some serious cash, so good for them.
The nitty-gritty: I got to Crossroads Church, which served as race HQ, by about 7:15, giving myslef a good half hour to test my bum calf, which had been giving me some serious grief for a couple of days. It felt very tight, and after doing a couple of striders I had serious doubts about starting the race, but figured I'd give it a go and pull out if the pain got too intense.
From the gun, I found myself running in first - exactly where I didn't want to be - but nobody seemed too interested in setting the pace, and I felt aerobically comfortable. The calf hurt, but not to the point where I was concerned about doing serious damage. Halfway through the first mile, the eventual winner came cruising by, and I could tell by the smoothness in his stride that there was no way I would keep pace. Steve Folkerts and another guy also passed me by the end of the first mile, which I went through in 5:29. The pace felt good, and I figured I might have a shot at dipping below 17 minutes. The second and third mile, however, were slightly uphill, so I slowed even though I was maintaining a consistent effort.
Steve F went after the lead runner, and I was content to let them both go so I could focus on third, who had a ten meter gap on me half way through the second mile. I was in a pack of three guys at this point, one of whom - Doug Bell - looked to be about twenty years my senior. Doug and I dropped the other guy running with us by the end of the second mile, which I clocked at 5:47. I was pretty disappointed to see this split, but I wasn't going to sweat it with my calf the way it was. Through the third mile, I put a bit of distance between myself and Doug, but was making no ground on third. I felt like I could have pushed harder on this mile, but was dubious about being able to pick up third, so not wanting to chance anything injury-wise, I didn't push particularly hard. Went through three miles in 17:00 flat (5:43), and crossed the finish line in 17:32, with Doug in fifth just two seconds behind me.
I was disappointed to fall so far short of 16:5x, but considering I still had the Fruita 50 in my legs and a bum calf, it was a decent result on balance. I wish I could have given it 100% to see exactly where the top-end speed is right now after a winter of 9- to 10-minute mountain miles, but no big deal.
The plan for the upcoming week is to take it very easy, and not run a step until this pain in my calf is gone, which may well mean that I won't run until the Collegiate 50 next Saturday. Considering the work and miles I have put in through the winter, it would be a real shame to not get to the Big Horn start line in June, which remains the main goal for the season. If I have to take a goose egg through the week, then so be it.