I’ve had the Champlain Classic on my race calendar for a while. The 15K distance and timing from VCM was practically perfect for my last big workout, while the race environment offered the opportunity to simulate race morning schedule and manage some nerves. What I didn’t plan on was a huge airport delay on Saturday that left me dehydrated and exhausted! Needless to say, I didn’t feel great going into yesterday.
My legs were pretty shot after a week in heat and humidity so I was grateful for a race plan that didn’t include much racing. Will’s instructions were simple: go out at marathon pace EFFORT, then aim for tempo EFFORT then close hard over the last 1.3 miles. The emphasis on effort was important; on a hilly and gravel course like the Classic, pace isn’t always what it seems. In fact, my pace altered very little over the race, thanks in large part to a strong headwind after the turnaround and no one for miles to help with the wind.
The first part of the race was effortless. There weren’t a lot of runners and we separated quickly. One guy tried to hang with me (and smack talked about beating me), but he was gone by mile 3 and I was alone for the rest of the race, which made me grateful for the out and back nature of the course so I didn’t feel just totally alone. When it was time to move to tempo section, we were on the rolling paved part of the course and I focused on reeling in the leader and trying to run relaxed in a strong headwind. Mile 7 was the only rough mile; I felt like I had no opportunity for recovery and that I was just chasing my breathing, which is not how I like to run workouts. By the time I saw Will and Watson just before 9, I was focused in and clicking through gears trying to chase down the winning man, but I couldn’t close the gap with only a mile to work with. In general, the effort felt good and I always love a battle of the sexes duel.
Almost time for taper!