Every few weekends, Skelly schedules me to run a “Long Run Workout.” I absolutely hate doing these since it’s basically a long run, plus speed, that is required (almost) to be done alone. The. Worst.
When I saw the 8 Mile option for the Lake Country Challenge, it seemed like a good compromise. I would get to run with other people, and I’d get a quality workout somewhere around Goal Half pace and Tempo pace.
Of course, coming into the race, I always like to be competitive, and with only an 8 Mile and a Half being run, I thought there was an opportunity to grab a top finish in the 8 Mile. But do that while running my race.
I had more or less told those who would listen that I was hoping to sit on 6:25-30 for most of the race, and kick it in if possible at the end. That…sort of worked. But I’ll get to that.
At the start, I ran into my buddy Lawrence, who I thought would be there. Our conversation at the start line was super brief, but I did learn he was also there for the 8 Mile, which meant any chance for the outright win for me went out the window. Fine.
As the gun went off, Lawrence and another dude absolutely took off. Very quickly, two small packs formed in back of those two. There was a group of three a little ways up the road, and then a pack of four, which included me, only a few meters behind them.
I crossed the first mile in 6:26, which was about perfect for what I wanted. A crisp morning, and a flat mile, helped and I was thrilled to hit the first mile perfectly.
The second mile continued down this straight shot before going up a hill, and turning into a neighborhood. I made a couple passes back here, and churned through Mile 2 in a 6:25. Perfect.
Mile 3 ran us next to Lac La Belle (which the course looped) which made it a fairly flat mile, with one incline hidden in there. A fairly uneventful mile ended up as a 6:27 for me.
The fourth mile took us up a big hill, and around one of those bendy country roads. Coming around the bend, I found myself in 5th across the board (Lawrence and the other guy way in front) but didn’t know who was in the Half or 8 Mile. Mile 4 was another 6:27.
Almost right after the fourth mile marker, the races split. The Half went out for an out and back to add the extra 5 miles, while the 8 hung a left to do an immediate rolling hill.
As quick as the turn was, I instantly found myself completely alone. No one in sight ahead of me, and no one in sight in back of me. Before getting back to bigger roads, I made a quick pit stop to use nature’s bathroom, before carrying on. Because of that, Mile 5 was a 6:37.
Mile 6 was the first really tough one for me. I didn’t see a soul the entire mile, and we were getting into some rolling hills on the west side of the lake. At this point, I was thinking that I might as well have just done a long run workout since that would have been the same thing. Cleared Mile 6 in a 6:35.
Mile 7 brought more of the same, but a few less hills. It also brought an aid station. Had literally any runners been around me, I probably don’t stop there. But I did, took a quick breather, and was back at it. The AS slowdown yielded my slowest mile of the day, which is fine, at a 6:44.
The final mile was on a sidewalk back to Oconomowoc Beach. I made a concerted effort to pick up the pace, but stay in control of form and breathing. Other than one slowdown to make sure a delivery truck didn’t plow me over, this was a very efficient mile, my best of the second half. That last mile was a 6:32.
That was good enough for an overall 6:31 pace, and a third overall finish. Turns out, I had almost a 3 and a half minute buffer on either side of me. In other words, no one was anywhere close.
Overall, I was happy with this result. Sure, I wish my pacing had been a little better in the second half. And I’m sure it would have been with other runners. Or if I had eaten more than a Cliff Bar at 5:30am. It’s a good point to see where my fitness is at with about two months before both Winter Series start in earnest.