As the race started, one guy shot out to an early lead and he looked young, gifted and fast. Not only that, but he had a permanent tatoo of a winged foot on the back of his left ankle. That's bad news.
Then I noticed that he had another tatoo. This one was three words in huge letters on his back, stretching all the way from from one shoulder to the other. So huge that despite the fact that his singlet was blocking much of the letters it was still very easy to read..."PAIN IS TEMPORARY". That's when I turned to Kevin Ford, the eventual race winner and series champion, and announced that we were about to be creamed.
However, Ford and I managed to catch the tatoo guy by the one mile mark. Then the three of us worked each other for the next couple of miles with each of us taking a few turns at the lead. It was pretty exciting to share the lead with two other fiercely competitive runners as we continued to push each other.
At the 5K turnaround I managed to build a very modest lead over Ford. Then, after we completed the hairpin turn, we were surprised to find that the tatoo guy was well behind us. The post-race rumor was that he was suffering from a cold, so although the pain triggered by the cold was temporary it would apparently hold long enough to keep him out of contention for the rest of the race.
It was a nice ego-booster to be in the lead for all of the out-going runners to see, but then Ford bursted my bubble by passing me at the 4-mile mark with a decent amount of authority. I had decided ahead-of-time that I would not, under any circumstances, push myself up the steep hill at the 5.5-mile mark or launch my usual finishing kick. My achilles was still on the mend and there was no sense in risking a setback with the fall racing season fast approaching. That meant that I needed to have a decent lead heading into the hill in order to pull off a win.
Alas, I didn't. Instead, Ford had me by 10 seconds at the bottom of the hill which meant that the race was his unless he faltered big-time. Unfortunately for me, he faltered only small-time and nipped me at the finish by 5 seconds.
So the win eluded me, but I clocked a 36:13 which meant that I managed a 5:50 pace over a challenging 10K course on a bum achilles tendon. So I'm mostly pleased, but it's a little disheartening to think back on the race and realize that I had a very decent chance to pulling off a win if I put in the usual 110% effort near the end. Howver, I'm trying to keep the big picture in mind and save my achilles for a fall marathon, if that's still possible.