Early in February I gave a preview of the team tryouts to earn a spot on the National Instruments Corporate Challenge team for the Capitol 10K. Well race day finally arrived. With seven people trying out for four spots, it was sure to be competitive. I had done my research and knew who would beat me and who I could out run. My research did not leave me feeling very reassured.
The biggest difference, as Colin pointed out, is that for the tryouts, I’m racing against people and not against the clock. In all my other races, it’s always me versus the clock. That completely changes the strategy. Time is steady. People are not. In any case, the group jogged 2 miles to the track as a warm up. We got a brief review of the rules from MC Rich, took a group photo, and got lined up.
The Serious Seven: Me, Misha, Ryan, Joel, Justin, Mike, Paul
From the start the group broke into three factions: 3 in the lead pack, 2 in the middle, and 2 falling behind. I was in the “2 in the middle” group, which meant only one of us would be getting a spot on the team. Unfortunately for me I was hanging with Misha, who is known for having a lightning fast kick (aka speed burst at the end). After the first lap, the lead group had a solid gap ahead of Misha and me. I decided in the second lap I needed to try to put some space between Misha and me or I could be in serious trouble later.
By the end of the second lap I was creating some distance but terrified (and paranoid) that there would be a late surge to knock me out. For some reason I thought doing this would be a good idea, maybe to psyche out the competition… or because of other, undiagnosed reasons.
We cruised through the next lap and at each turn I tried to gauge my lead without hinting at my fear. Around lap four is when I noticed that third place (Justin) was falling off the lead group. He was one of the people I considered much faster and catching him was out of the question. Over the course of the next lap I was able to pass Justin to slip into third. Again, my inexperience racing actual people left me worrying that I was now just a sitting duck. I tried to hold it together and maintain a solid pace and make him work for it if he wanted to pass me back.
The final results show I was able to put some decent space between Justin and myself (see above, Justin in distance). Misha had a tough time with the pace, but to his credit he ran his first ever marathon 10 days ago in 3:13. In Austin. The big news though is that I MADE THE TEAM!! My third place finish means I’m the 9th fastest person on the ten-person team. Overall I’m most happy about redeeming my crash and burn from last year.
p>Based on my Garmin saying 3.33 miles, I averaged a
6:19 min/mile pace. Not bad, especially considering I’ve been doing approximately zero speed work since mid January. So with the tryouts behind me, it’s back to marathon training.