Yes, I’ve had some injury issues and yes I may have been pushing it by not just getting back to racing after the injury but that race being the BAA half marathon but to be honest I’ve been feeling pretty good. If I feel good…why not race some more. What? Makes sense to me. LOL It just so happened that there was a 5k just down the street, with a late start so I figured why not?!
It was cold and rainy. I normally run a while to get warmed up for a race but I needed to run just to get warm. Now if you remember from my post about the Canal Diggers 5k, there was the guy in full racing kit standing on the start line who had NO business being there. Imagine my surprise when I not only see him at this race, but he’s doing warm up drills at the start line in front of everybody. Even though I didn’t feel that great, I at least knew I had something to focus on when the gun went off. A few laps to get warmed up and then up to the start line. I wasn’t going to stand on the start line, I figure about 1/3 from the front was a good location to see the field and judge how I felt. I couldn’t believe that I looked up to see “Mr. Pro Road Racer” had now taken off his tank top and was gonna run shirtless from the start line! Um, do you remember my saying it was COLD?! Ok, I have no expectations for this race but I would make sure that at the very least I was way ahead of this guy come the finish.
We start and immediately the lead pack forms…including “Mr. Pro” which means I have to be in the lead pack. The pace seemed comfortable but quick. The eventual winner took off right out of the gate so I was left with a couple 6 foot tall runners, “Mr. Pro”, a couple others and myself. I focused on putting distance between “Mr. Pro” and myself (which happened within the first quarter mile. Dude, get a clue) and when I looked up it was just the leader, the two 6 footers and me. I have this internal debate about looking at my watch for time/pace when I’m racing. I read an article about Ryan Hall doing that, thinking he was running too fast and eventually laying off and not placing at races because he got too wrapped up in the time instead of just racing. So, I settled in with these two guys. It was pouring rain and windy. I figured at the very least I could use these two tall guys to block wind and draft off as long as I could. I stole a glance down at my watch to see we turned the first mile on a 5:52. Woah! That first mile didn’t feel that fast at all. Ok, well stop looking at the watch for the rest of the race and focus on using these guys for as long as I can and keep running hard. The course was an out and back and when we hit the turn to come home it felt like someone had set off a grenade in my lower back/pelvis. I don’t fall asleep when I run but I certainly get into a rhythm and kind of zone out…but that pain brought me right back to reality. Holy mother did that suck! So I told myself “deep breath, compose yourself, you’re only looking at another 12 or 13 minutes of racing so grit your teeth and get this done”.
As I looked up at the course it dawned on me that we were running a downhill out to the turn and now we were steadily climbing our way back up it for the trip home. I hate hills, no matter how big or small and I know it’s a mental thing with me. One of my biggest “off season” things to train is hill work and learning to love them but that’s not gonna do me any good now. I just wanted to stay with these guys and see how what I had left in me for a kick to the finish. We hit the 2 mile mark and they started to pull away. I realized that if didn’t bear down, this is quickly gonna get out of hand. I was already having the “well if I don’t come in top 3, there doesn’t seem to be anybody in my age group around me so I’ll get that” chat with myself. Nope! Not gonna do it, just eat it and run as hard as possible. As we neared the end, I guess there was some confusion as to where the correct turn into the finish was and there was a bunch up of runners. The only thing I could think of as I closed was that I had no intention of not giving everything I had. I’ve laid off the gas in the past but not today. I looked around and it turned into a flat out foot race to the finish. Thanks goodness for the slight downhill into the gate because I was running on vapor with folks closing on my heels. It took all I could do to remain standing. It wasn’t a PR but it was MAX effort and it landed me in 2nd overall and 1st in my age group. Not a bad day, not a bad day at all. Hopefully I can carry some of that positive energy into the Army 10 Miler this weekend…