July 17, 2010
This was to be just the 2nd track race I have participated in since taking up running back in 2004 (I raced a bit on the track in high school, but was never very serious about it). A couple of years ago, I raced in a 5000m in windy conditions and had a mediocre performance struggling to maintain form in the last couple of laps. I had never raced 3000m before so I didn't know exactly how it would go. I resolved to try my best to run a smart race and split my laps evenly so as to avoid falling apart on the last lap or two. My 'A' goal was get under 9min, but I knew that pretty much everything would have to go right for me for that to happen.
I was placed in the elite race with quite a few other very solid runners. Simon DeJong, Nixon Kiprotich, Willy Langat, Keith Mills, Shawn Nelson, and Nick Walker were all in attendance. I fully expected to be closer to the back of the pack than to the front when we got to the finish line. Before we began, I got to watch a kids 800m, an open Mile, an Elite Mile, and a open 3000m while I did my warm up on the infield. While track may be more tedious than a road race for the racers themselves, they are certainly more entertaining for spectators and it was great to be able to cheer on everyone.
It was soon our turn and the 7 of us lined up and were off. I expected the pace to be a little faster than it was as I was only slightly behind the leaders after the 1st lap (which I completed in 1:13). Shawn, Nick, Willy, and Nixon were in front of me with Keith and Simon were just behind. After the first lap Keith pulled in front of me and knowing that we are similar speeds, I resolved to sit behind for a little while and let him do the pace making. However, after the second 400m passed at a slightly slower 1:14 (which put me behind my 1:12 goal), I knew that I had to speed up or I would definitely not get close to my goal time. I pulled past Keith and picked up the pace just a bit. I went though 1km in about 3:03, a little slower than I was planning, but not bad either.
I was feeling relatively comfortable at this point and felt I would be able to put in a solid effort throughout the race. The next 3 laps passed in 1:12, 1:14, and 1:13 respectively so I was maintaining the pace pretty well. Midway through the race, I was surprised to find Nixon coming back to me. Earlier in the year he posted some good times on some of the Island Race Series races, including a 49:02 at Merville 15k which was over 2 min ahead of me. I understand that he has been injured for a while, however, and not able to train or race at his peak which is really too bad.
With 1km to go, it started to get tougher to maintain the pace as the lactic built up in the legs and the cardio system started to reach its limits. With a concentrated effort, however, I was able to sustain my pace and hit the final two full laps at 1:13, and 1:14. With about a lap to go, I found myself running right in the middle of the group with Shawn, Nick, and Willy running about 80m ahead of me and no one right on my heels. Unfortunately, the leaders were too far ahead to try and catch, but I decided that I felt good enough for a finishing kick anyhow and started to go with 200m left. I pushed hard, right up to my limit, but also trying to keep some semblance of decent form. I closed the final 200m in 34 sec which I was fairly happy with.
My official finishing time was 9:06.7 good for 4th place out of the 7. Willy managed to out kick Shawn who had led for most of the race for the win in 8:48.8. While I was a few seconds off of my goal, overall I was pretty happy with my inaugural 3000m outing as I raced smart. In retrospect, I may have been able to shave a couple seconds off if I had kicked a little earlier since I seemed to have a bit of reserve in the tank, but it would not have made a huge difference. I definitely think that with just a little more training in the bank and a good day I could get under 9 min. Thanks to Chris Kelsall for putting this track series together, its great to have some different options for racing this year.
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