March 2, 2014 by Enoch Nadler
Yesterday I competed in the Fresh 15k in Tyler, TX. Over the past month, my training has been going extremely well. I’ve mixed in some solid base training with a few speed sessions over the last few weeks. After some time away from racing I was excited to get the spring season started with a 15k. Never having raced in Tyler, TX and unsure of what other elite runners would show up, I came in with an open mind ready for whatever challenge I would face.
With Tyler being only a little under two hours away from Dallas we decided to drive over the morning of the race. Angela and I woke up just before 4am and drove down to Barnabas’s place to carpool with him, Agustin Hernandez, and Jason Trevino.
All of us carpooling to the race together was a fun team experience. We got to the race on time with no issues. We checked in with the elite coordinator and received our packets and then headed out for a warm-up. We checked out the finishing portion of the course and we could tell that we were in for some hilly running. We knew that it was going to be a challenging course especially since it was near 100% humidity with temps approaching seventy degrees. After the warm up we did some drills and chatted with some of the other elites. Benson Kipyegon, a really nice and friendly Kenyan, showed up to the race along with a few other fast guys.
I knew with Barnabas not being at full strength due to a recent injury that Benson would probably be my biggest competition.
My original plan was to not push the pace for the first 4-5 miles and then pick it up over the final part of the race. But as the gun went off Benson, Barnabas, and I grouped up at the front.
I decided that with Benson looking strong that I would keep the pace honest over the first few miles so I took the lead beside him and we hit the first two miles in 4:59 and 4:56. At this point, the three of us had separated from the pack a bit so I decided to back off for the next few miles until around mile 5 before starting to push it again. Benson kept on the pace though as we hit some hills and we ran 5:08, 5:06 and 5:06 to get to 5 miles. At this point, Barnabas had started to fall off the back since he hasn’t run a hard workout since early December due to injury. Just after mile 5, I started to put in some surges but I found it hard to change gears. I hoped that Benson wouldn’t be able to cover my moves but he hung tough and stayed right with me. I hit mile 6 in 4:56 and I had finally put a couple of seconds on him. I tried to keep pushing the pace but the course had a lot of hills so I just focused on my form and staying strong. Mile 7 was 5:09 and I was really feeling the tough course and conditions but I got a nice surprise that kept me going. Angela had made her way to this part of the course with our friend Harry’s help so she gave me just the boost I needed to push for home.
Mile 8 was the hardest of the course with a big hill named “heartbreak hill” so my pace slowed down to 5:20. I knew that Benson wasn’t too far back so I stayed on it hitting mile 9 in 5:12. By this point, I had gained enough space that I could start to relax as I cruised for home. I enjoyed the cheers of the crowd as I broke the tape and I finally got to enjoy a hard-earned victory.
I was happy to see my training partners Barnabas and Jason Trevino finish strong. And to see Agustin fight through as the top masters despite a recent back injury from a collision on the track. It was also great to see our friend Dawn win the women’s race in dominating fashion.
After an embrace from Angela, I congratulated my competitors before doing a few post-race interviews with the local media. It never ceases to amaze me how friendly and supportive all the guys are and it’s one of the things that always keeps me coming back to road races.
After that, I headed out with the guys for a nice cool down.
We spent some time at the post-race party and I was surprised by all the congratulations I received. I enjoyed shaking hands and taking many pictures. We cheered on the kids 1k and I got to meet the 2nd place finisher and pass on some advice and encouragement. These are things that make all my hard work and training worth it.
I was honored to be given the opportunity to say a few words at the awards ceremony and was able to thank everyone for putting on such a great race. Tyler, TX outdid themselves with an amazing first-year event and I look forward to returning for years to come.
I am excited for the next few weeks to start hitting the track and rounding into form. I am not sure exactly what races I will do over the next few months but I hope to focus more on my speed. I plan to make the trip down to Austin later this month for the Texas Relays 5k and I am excited to get back on the Track!
A big shout-out to my beautiful wife Angela for all that she does and thank you all for continuing to follow my journey to Los Angeles 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials!
Post-race interview below: