This time the race was the Cody Yellowstone Opener, and I finished over a minute behind the winner. The course was similar to the other 10k races I've run here in Cody, but instead of starting and finishing at the Rec Center, up on top of the ridge that runs through the middle of town, it started near the Chamber of Commerce, down at the bottom. Also, we took Meadow Lane Ave. to the reservoir instead of the dirt trail. Both changes made the course hillier, and would have made it longer, so we turned around short of the cattle guard and ran the cut-off version of the reservoir loop. Overall the course was something like this, except with the turn-around a bit sooner (I don't know exactly where it would be on a map). For additional intrigue, this race carried a $300 prize for the male and female 10k winners. I wasn't really in great shape, but I figure I'm always a threat to win a race in a small town like Cody.
I actually led up to the turn-around, so for almost the first two miles. The eventual winner then turned on the jets and built a prohibitive lead almost immediately. He had clearly measured his pace for the first couple miles to observe the field. Another runner passed me as well, and built about a 30-meter lead. But at 14th St. he took a wrong turn; along Meadow Lane Ave. we had joined up temporarily with the 5k runners, who took a left at 14th, and he followed them all the way to the finish, cutting the whole reservoir loop (about 1.5 miles). I had studied the course and knew to take a right. The hill up to the reservoir took a lot out of me, and I didn't recover to my normal pace as quickly as I would have liked, but once I did I kept my turnover up and ran strong on the reservoir path. I think I would have had a reasonable chance to catch the second-place guy on the path had he taken the correct turn, but I'll never know.
Since the big climb was at the beginning of the race, and the climb up to the reservoir was steep and short, I think the critical parts of this race were recovery after climbs and downhill running. My recovery after the initial climb was fine but my pace between the turn-around and the climb to the reservoir didn't feel very fast. On the other hand, I really took advantage of the short downhill sections early in the race to pick up my turnover and extend my lead. I used to be awful at that, and it's become a real strength in my racing. As I mentioned above, after a slow recovery from the reservoir climb I felt like I got my pace and turnover up to a good level (I have no data to back this up). Coming down from the reservoir I did fine with my form and settled back into a nice pace before the final descent. That was a little dicier; my stomach started to hurt on that stretch, and as it's a pretty steep decline I wasn't really able to open it up. I lost a little momentum toward the bottom of the hill checking for traffic before crossing to the left side of the street, but there was enough residual hill to get my speed back up. If there had been anyone on my tail I might have tried to kick harder, but as it was I settled for a moderate pick-up at the end.
So I came in second, for the hundredth time, and with a time of 37:02, which was a pleasant surprise. Since my cats hid my watch I've been training blind and my mental energy has been diverted by my job search... I was afraid I'd lay an egg like I did at the Soroptimist's run in October. But I managed to put all the stress away and run about as well as I should have, given my training.