2016 Frostbite 15k
1:13:37 (7:54 min/mile) 15/30 AG 101/447 Overall
January 17, 2016 – Race number one for 2016 came very early in the year for me in the form of a 15k. The Richmond Road Runners put on several running races every year, and even though I was not a member, I decided to sign up for the Frostbite 15k to keep my training motivation level high over the winter holidays. I’d only run one other 15k back in 2014 (where I injured my left IT band), so I was also using this race as a litmus test of my improvement since that time.
It decided to snow on race morning, and given the weather, it really wasn’t going to be a very spectator friendly race. Thus, I headed down to Maymont Elementary School solo, with the wife and kids all snug in their beds as I headed out. I thought that I was arriving extra early, but as I pulled up to the school, every available parking space nearby was taken. I ended up parking about five blocks away, so I did a bit of a warmup jog on the way from my car to the school.
After checking in and getting my bib, I warmed up and stretched some more inside the school, preferring to stay warm and dry inside. The snow was really coming down, and it was a very heavy and wet snow that I wanted to avoid until race time. Pretty much everyone else had the same idea.
A few minutes before the start time they shuffled everyone outside and put us in the starting corral. This was a self-seeded start, and I ended up putting myself in the first third of the pack. Most of the runners ahead of me seemed pretty serious, which was reflected by the fact that a lot of them were wearing shorts and running singlets even though it was dumping snow. Kudos to them, but I hate being cold, so I was pretty much covered head to toe.
After the National Anthem and a few words from the race director, we were off.
Miles 1-3 (7:54)(7:55)(8:04)
My goal for the race was to try to run an 8 minute mile pace. I’d averaged an 8:11 pace in my only other 15k in 2014, so I definitely wanted to better that since I had almost two additional years of training under my belt. The first quarter mile from the starting line was all downhill, and then the course flattened out. I took off rather quickly with the rest of the crowd, but I knew that heading back uphill at the finish wouldn’t be quite as easy.
My goal for the first couple of miles was to run an 8:05 to 8:10 pace so that I could try to negative split. As is generally the case, however, I went out faster than my plan, which may have been due to the fact that there were so many fast runners in the race. I tried to stick with my plan, but I guess I got a bit caught up in keeping pace with the runners around me.
Mile 1 was pretty uneventful, but as we backtracked to the west to pass the starting area, a car managed to make its way onto the closed course. I swear that the driver must have been coming home from a long night of drinking, because he was passing all of the runners in the oncoming lane and almost ran over the guy ahead of me. Thankfully, there was a police officer nearby working the race, and he soon had the trespasser pulled over on the side of the road. I suspect (and hope) that it didn’t turn out well for him.
After passing the second mile marker, the course began getting a little hillier. None of the hills on the course were super tough, but there were certainly some rollers that made me dial it back a bit on the upslope. The hills in mile 3 resulted in a ten second slower pace than miles 1 and 2.
Miles 4-6 (8:07(7:55)(7:50)
By the time I hit mile 4 the course had made its way into Byrd Park. There was a water stop that the course passed by three times, and I saw a few spectators there for the first time all day. By that point the initial adrenaline rush of the race had worn off, and the first signs of fatigue began to set in. Nothing terrible, but breathing was becoming more difficult. Still, my pace for miles 4-6 steadily decreased from 8:07 down to 7:50, and I was getting cautiously optimistic that I’d be able to hold on for a sub-8:00 minute mile pace. There were, however, some nagging doubts in the back of my mind that a blowup was still possible.
Miles 7-9 (8:02)(7:55)(7:58)
Miles 7-9 were painful. The adrenaline was gone, my lungs had begun to burn and my quads were hurting. The course ultimately left Byrd Park and headed back towards the bulk of the rolling hills – which would be capped off by the climb back up to the finish line. I did my best to crank up my Ipod to try to take my focus off of my burning lungs, and I kept my motivation up by trying to pick off runners ahead of me. By that point of the race I really wasn’t getting passed by any runners, and it felt good to move up in the field a little bit.
After making a right turn onto Colorado Avenue, I knew that I only had one left turn before heading uphill to the finish line. There was only one other runner in my proximity at that point (#395), so I made it my final goal to make sure that I passed him. As I pulled up along side him he decided to try to fight me off, and we turned left onto Allen Avenue for the final climb to the finish line shoulder to shoulder.
Miles 9-9.3 (6:59/mile pace)
The last tenth of a mile was straight uphill. Thankfully, I had left a little bit in the tank, and I was able to run at what felt like a sprint towards the finish. After a few yards of running neck and neck with #395 he finally gave in and let me have my minor victory. I crossed the finish line in 1:13:37, which came out to be a 7:54 minute/mile pace. That was 15 seconds per mile better than my prior 15k, so I was happy with my effort. It seemed as though my plan to have an early season race had worked to keep my motivation up, and the holiday weight gain to a minimum.
I knew there was no chance of making the podium at a Richmond Road Runners event, so I pretty much headed back to my car as soon as I crossed the finish line. By the time that I got back to my car it was covered in several inches of snow and I was soaking wet. I really hadn’t felt cold during the race after about the first mile, but after finishing the race the cold began to really set in. Thus, it was nice to get the car started and then turn on the heated seats.
Race number one for 2016 was in the books, and I considered it a success. Race number two would be the RTC sprint triathlon several months away, and I had some unfinished business to attend to there since I had busted my goggles at the beginning of the swim and then flatted two miles into the bike in 2015. In the meantime, I had some new equipment to begin acquainting myself with for the upcoming tri season.