Yesterday was Stage 3, a 30K XC race at Bechtel Park. The course is a 5K loop, which is run 6 times. It's not very technical and there are no giant hills, but the hills that ARE there can wear you down.
My goal/plan for the stage was the same as it is every year: to run even times on my laps. The time I wanted to run each lap in may change each year, but the plan of even laps is always the same. Some times it goes to plan... some years it does not.
Here are my lap times from past years:
2011: (1) 28:33 (2) 29:27 (3) 31:23 (4) 32:43 (5) 35:30 (6) 36:42
2012: (1) 29:48 (2) 30:40 (3) 31:06 (4) 32:17 (5) 33:27 (6) 33:26
2013: (1) 28:54 (2) 28:41 (3) 28:13 (4) 27:58 (5) 28:01 (6) 28:33
2014: (1) 26:50 (2) 26:48 (3) 26:47 (4) 27:07 (5) 28:38 (6) 28:21
2015: (1) 26:22 (2) 26:55 (3) 26:46 (4) 27:28 (5) 27:23 (6) 27:20
2016: (1) 26:06 (2) 25:37 (3) 25:52 (4) 26:46 (5) 26:22 (6) 27:06
As you can see, my first year was pretty bad. I was more than 8 minutes slower on my last lap than I was on my first! 2012 was significantly better, but still an almost 4 minute differential. I started to figure things out in 2013, which, I guess you can say about a lot more than this stage, my times dropped across the board in 2013. I started running smarter at that point and it's evident in my pacing for stage 3. The difference between my slowest and fastest laps in 2013 was less than a minute.
2014 through 2016 weren't as consistent, but finish times were quicker. In fact, stage 3 is the only stage that I've improved on year after year.
Back to this year...
I ran with Merzi for almost 5 loops. We started out together and had the same idea as to what we wanted to do for lap times and finish time, so we stuck together. We are very close in the cumulative as well, so I figured we'd be running about the same this day. We chatted a fair bit as we ran, but not constantly. It did help to make the time (and loops) go by more quickly. Thaddeus was coming up behind us, so before the end of lap 5 Merzi picked it up a bit and Thaddeus followed, I stuck to my plan of being even and let them go. I ran the last loop mostly solo, and finished in 2:23:32, 40ish seconds behind Merzi and Thaddeus, and first female across the line.
My splits for this year's race:
(1) 23:56 (2) 23:51 (3) 24:03 (4) 23:44 (5) 24:00 (6) 23:58
The difference between my slowest lap and my fastest lap was only 19 seconds! I'm very happy with my consistency on this stage this year.
There were no changes in the top three on either side, but there were changes in the relays! I don't know exactly what happened right now, but you can certainly check things out on the results page and also on the H+P site, since the bulk of the relay teams are from the club!
After the stage was complete, I had a nice lazy afternoon in the hammock until it was time to get ready to meet up with some of the other runners for sushi and then out for a drink. It was a great evening with good friends.