After watching 4.5 hours of the Baltimore Running Festival on Saturday, it was my turn to race on Sunday morning. Of all the events I do each year, the Terp Trot probably holds the most sentimental value. For one, it's the only race I know I can win (partially because it's the only race I've really ever won, in 2002 and 2006), but also because it's great to go back to College Park and run a race.
I think I first did the Terp Trot back in 2000. The course was much different then, still starting in between Byrd and the Union, it made its way through Lot 1, around VMH and back up towards the Union. As you screamed down Campus Drive, you then went halfway around the circle and down towards the nerd portion of campus, before coming back up by the North Campus dorms and finishing through the stadium walkway. I liked when it was completely contained in campus, and started and finished in the same spot.
When I did the race again in 2002, the course had changed to include "College Park" - although really this just meant crossing Route 1 and going behind Frat Row and Leonardtown before returning up College Ave. The finish features a sharp left hand turn at AOPi, with about 25m to go to the line. In 2002 I ran side by side with Tri Guy Tommy before outkicking him at this turn. In 2006 I won by a minute and didn't need to worry about it. This year it again proved the difference between first and second.
Saturday was a warm day, for October 11th, and the sun was strong. Not ideal marathon conditions at 80 degrees, but I thought it would be great for Sunday morning. After barely drinking or eating all day on Saturday, I headed to the afterparty at Arjun's. As a result of some friends in town that evening, I didn't get home until after 1:30, and let them sleep in my bed. This meant a crappy sleep on the couch. If it had been anything longer than a 10k I was racing, I wouldn't have done that.
Woke up a few hours later and it looked like it was going to be another great day. I picked up Alyssa and drove down to CP, registered and warmed up. My boy Ron $ Willoughby was there doing his first race in 2 years, and my friend Karen, who just finished her first marathon on Saturday came out to watch. I always scan the start line for the competition, and noticed a few of the usual suspects - wrestling team (not really competition but fun to watch), a couple HoCo guys and that dude from Annapolis Striders. We chatted at the start a little, and then I noticed two fairly legitimate looking dudes.
The gun goes off and I quickly move to the front before being passed by a guy on the wrestling team for about 100m. That's always a highlight of this race, one or two of the guys on the wrestling team gets a rise out of his teammates by sprinting at the start, before blowing up. Anyway I make the turn into Lot 1 by myself, and am alone as I speed down towards VMH. I can tell there are a few people behind me, but try not to look back. I can tell one kid (one of the two from pre-race) is catching me on the uphill, and sure enough we are side by side coming down Campus Drive. I couldn't tell if he was strong enough to get a lead, but we did exchange the lead a few times before he started pulling away by the chapel.
Apparently I had come through mile 1 in 5:27 and mile 2 in 5:49. The 2nd mile was in the spot I always remembered it, but the first mile seemed to be a little early. After crossing Route 1, where I saw Alyssa and Karen cheering, I was able to catch the kid and subsequently pass him as we went behind Frat Row. I was psyched, as I felt the momentum had shifted, and with 3/4 of a mile to go I should be able to hold on.
Au contraire, as he was coming back on me around Leonardtown. Only it wasn't him, it was a newcomer (the other kid from pre-race) and he seemed to have the legs. As he passed I could only think DBAP, and did everything I could to stay on his shoulder. I adjusted to the increase in pace, and as we turned onto College Ave I still felt good about my chances. With a minute to go, I started to pick it up, and I guess with 100m left I took off, hitting the last turn in first and never looking back.
It felt good to secure a win for 2008, my first W since 2006, and with the time of 17:18 it was a few seconds faster than last year and only a few seconds slower than my time from 2002. It did feel extremely hard though, and I think last year I was in better shape, just reeling from the piriformis problem I was having.
After the race I cooled down with the guy who got 2nd, and then waited around a while to get my crappy little award. I actually kind of swept the awards (first 19-29, first UM affiliate, first overall) but gave the two awards away and kept the overall. It was a gorgeous day in College Park - not a cloud in the sky, mid 70s, strong sun - so we grabbed a bite at the Bagel Place before heading back home for a fun-filled day of corn mazes and apple orchards.
This was race #22 for the season, eclipsing my previous best of 21 races from 2006. I actually skipped on a race report for race #21 since it was worthless (Bel Air Mile, 4th place, 5:24 in the rain and crappy weather, which was also the day of my birthday party). I need to check results later for what happened at Hereford, since Bull Run was rescheduled for the day of Baltimore Marathon.