Surprise Race Report - 8k Chilly BOB Fest Roadrace

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Jen found out about a small local 8k on Wednesday and suggested I run it. The course goes around Windsor Castle Park, which we run all the time, so I thought the race would be a good idea. I had already run my normal weekly routine Monday-Wednesday so I didn't really have a chance to 'train' or 'prepare'. I just had to trust that my weekly routine was enough to power through an 8k. I did an easy slow 5 miles on Thursday and didn't run at all on Friday so my legs would be fresh. I went into the race with 22 miles for the week already.

Each turn around was at the bottom of a pretty steep hill.
My strategy for this race was a bit different than my previous 5 mile race. The course for this race is an out-and-back with two forks on the side. That  means there were three turn-around spots and each one was at the bottom of a hill. This was a very hilly course and meant that it would be hard for me to race a consistent pace. Instead I decided to race my heart rate. My goal was to keep my heart rate at about 160 bpm, which is about 86% of my max heart rate, right in the lactate threshold zone. This, hopefully, would keep me giving max effort the whole time even if my pace had to slow due to a hill.

Pre-race - The race had a few hundred participants and was fairly low key. They did have chip timing which is really nice for such a small race. The start was at the manor house on the Windsor Castle Park grounds. The weather was cool (45 degrees) and breezy but the sun was shining. I did a few strides down the road to get my legs warm. The wind was blowing and I knew that between the hills and the wind my legs were in for a beat down.

Mile 1-2 - I went out with the lead pack and ran the first 400 meters at a 5:30 pace. My heart rate hadn't jumped up yet so I just kept racing whatever pace that heart rate could sustain. At 800 meters I was in 4th place and I was gaining on 2nd and 3rd. They kept slowing and I kept feeling good so I pushed on and passed them. I did consider for a moment latching on and running with them as a pack. But I decided to chase first place and press on alone. I slowed down a bit as I kept my heart rate right around 160. The guy in first place was about 20 seconds ahead of me (now in 2nd place). He looked strong and I just kept running trying not to over think the situation. At mile 2 I approached the first turn around. It was straight down and up a big steep hill, run around a cone, and then down and up the hill again. My legs burned and I ignored my pace and focused on my heart rate. 6:19, 6:29

Mile 3-4 - The turn around gave me the opportunity to see my pursuers without looking behind me. There was a group of about 4 guys about 15 seconds behind me. I was running about 15 seconds behind first place and was feeling very lonely. It is hard to run alone in a race! Why do I always end up in 'no-man's" land? Mile 3.5 was the first of the two forks. It was a brief up hill, then a big down hill for the turn around. When I got to the bottom of the hill to turn around I had a brief side stitch. I felt like I was maxing out and about to explode. I literally stopped at the cone for about 2 seconds to re-group and I seriously doubted I could hang on and maintain my place. I started running up the hill and just took it one step at a time. My legs felt like jello going up the hill and my body felt like it was traveling through molasses. The main problem was the wind. It was a steady 15 mph in my face. The only thing that kept my going was knowing that everyone else was in the same situation as me. If it was hard for me, it had to be (hopefully) hard for everyone. The leader was now about 30 seconds ahead of me and my pursuers were still about 15 seconds behind me. 6:49, 6:48

Some people coming through the small finish line. At least they used a chip timer!
Mile 5 - The last push was down the second fork. It was down hill, around a cone, then back up the hill to a flat 400 meter sprint to the finish. I somehow still maintained my space between first and third. My legs truly hurt but I finally started to think I could hang on. When I made it to the top of the hill I started to sprint and surprisingly felt I had a little kick left in me. I ran really hard to the end and crossed the finish line in 32:26 and held on to 2nd place overall. First place came in at 31:51 and third was 19 seconds behind me. Somehow I had managed to pull off a 6:16 last mile (well, almost a full mile).

Post-race - Not much to say here. I got my obligatory bananna, water, and granola bar. Stayed around to get a hat and cup as a prize and then drove home. Apparently this race didn't have any good prizes, even for placing 2nd overall. It was a very challenging race and my legs felt tired and sore that afternoon. I think I the heart rate strategy was helpful because it would have been near impossible to maintain a consistent pace going up those hills in the wind. Side note: After the race I noticed the guy who came in first place was wearing shorts with KU on them. Turns out he is from Kansas, like me, and graduated from the University of Kansas in 2007! We had a nice chat and felt good that a pair of Kansas boys topped a small race in Virgina.
This is as good as the loot gets for such a small race. Not even a gift card for 2nd place overall!


  1. Wow I'm really impressed with your pace and congrats on 2nd place!

  2. Thanks! Racing is both really hard and really fun.


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