The air was cold.
Although the temperature was only 36, I was chilled to the bone when I arrived and remained shivering despite my 2+ mile warm-up. In fact, my hands were in pain. I slithered into the front seat of the car and slipped off my tights and disrobed down to my singlet. I left a wool hat on the top of my head and squeezed my hands back inside my cold gloves. It was 7:57am; time to roll.
We started out fast and I tucked back behind 3 younger foes. It felt good to open up and double down on my stride. The first mile was downhill and I slowly made gains on the young chaps just ahead of me. By the time I hit mile 1 (4:56), I was in 2nd place. Shortly after the mile the course had a sharp uphill and I began to walk down the leader somewhere near the top. Once there I hit the downhill hard and then opened it up for the next 5 minutes. My pace had slowed considerably by the time I hit mile 2 (10:10), but I seemed to have the race in the bag at that point. I felt strong and comfortable and reminded myself to keep on trucking.
I hit the tape in 15:56. My last mile was my slowest (5:16), but I wasn't too tired so I think I just got too comfortable out on the course and just got into my own groove. Essentially this was exactly what I was hoping to do; get a W and run sub-16. While not fast, the silver lining is that I ran this same race 2 years ago in more favorable weather and hit 16:01. This was before my "dream (spring) season" of 2010. If I can start putting in some miles while continuing to keep things fresh, I might be able to turn things around. The shorter, more poignant analysis is - damn, it felt good to race again.