Date: March 10, 2009
Location: Garner, NC
The course was advertised as flat and fast. I beg to differ! As I’ve been training for the upcoming ultra and I haven’t been doing speed work with a group, I’ve been concerned that I’ve slowed down. I’ve been too focused on endurance and not enough on speed. Like last week’s 10-miler, I didn’t take this race too seriously. In fact, Saturday’s group run (part of Karhu Day at Bull City Running) was at a fast pace, and my legs were a little tired Sunday morning—early Sunday morning, as a matter of fact. As the race started at 7, I got up at 4:30, and arrived at the race at 6. I registered, and began my warm-up routine. I ran into Devon, and he informed me that he and Bobby, yesterday’s 1st (Bobby) and 2nd place winner’s of the Capitol City 10K, were running the 5K, as if the winner finished in under 15 minutes they would earn a $500 award—and Bobby did!
The 10K race start began about .10 of a mile from and 5 minutes before the 5K start. A running acquaintance, Arturo, was running the 10K, and we chatted briefly. He predicted that I would win. I informed him it was a training run. A conversation with another runner went something like this… Him: Is your name Paul? Me: Yes. Him: Is your last name Potorti? Me: Yes. I’m sorry, have we met? Him: No, but I keep track of the standings. I was at first a little disconcerted, but he later introduced himself (Clyde), and we talked after the race. As with most runners, he’s a nice person.
The race was a charity to raise money for Down Syndrome awareness. The lead cars were an unmarked police car and a convertible. A young girl with Down Syndrome, who it appears that all of the volunteers knew, sat in the back seat watching me and the racers. Thus, we were all trying to catch her! I did indeed. Read on.
As I had an uncomfortable warm-up, I wasn’t sure how this race was going to go. Given everything, it went remarkably well.
The start consisted of a count down from 10, and we were off. I took off, and no one went with me. I almost immediately caught up with the lead cars, but they took off rather quickly as I approached. I could hear a runner behind me for about ¼ mile, and then there was silence. I led from start to finish.
The start and finish of the course were on a 4-lane highway, and for the first mile or so the far right lane was blocked from traffic by cones. The course then traversed through very nice neighborhoods. And hilly neighborhoods! I stayed with the lead cars, but ran most of the tangents.
I’ll admit it: my fear was that the 5K finishers would catch and pass me. Fortunately, Bobby and Devon did not! Even with my 5-minute head start, they had to be close. Given that there were less than 50 runners in the 10K, at least they didn’t have to worry about too much congestion.
Just before the 5K and eventual 10K finish, I started the second lap. It wasn’t long before I began passing 5K walkers, all (or at least those not wearing headphones) who were very encouraging. I cheered them on as well, and even said to one group, “This is you at next year’s race!” They laughed and ensured me that they would not be running any time soon
A small loop additional loop was added to the course to reach the 10K distance. I was running up yet another hill at about the 5-mile mark when I saw Bobby and Devon running a cool-down. Devon shouted words of encouragement, and Bobby said, “It’s downhill once you reach to top of this climb.” “I know,” I said, “I’ve already run it once!” They both laughed. I then asked, “Is there anyone behind me?” To which Devon replied, “Yes, some black kid walking.” I had to laugh, and while I broke my stride, it was a nice reprieve.
The finish, as mentioned, took place on a 4-lane road, again with the far right lane blocked with cones. With about ¼ mile left, I started my finishing kick. Here’s where it got interesting… The police car sounded an alarm (that bleating sound made to warn people of an approaching emergency vehicle) to warn a female 5K runner to move out of the way. She was wearing headphones, and her music was evidently so loud that she couldn’t hear the alarm. I had no choice but to run outside of the cones. I not only caught the convertible, I passed it and the police car as well. The police officer was kind enough to wave me by, and he even commented, “She can’t even hear me!” I yelled at her, “No headphones while you’re racing.” She returned a blank stare. Few things anger me more than casual runners wearing headphones—particularly on a looped course.
I’m convinced I could have finished in under 37 if I hadn’t had to slow down near the finish…
This race was well organized, very well marked, and the volunteers were all very helpful and encouraging. This was also the friendliest group of police officers I’ve encountered. In fact, the police officer driving the lead car made a point to find me after the race to offer his congratulations and his apology for the runner with the headphones.
I won an iPod Shuffle. I made sure to select a blue one, and I gave it to Jeff as an early birthday present.
I ran a 2-mile cool-down run after the race, stopped by Bond Park on my way home and ran 4 miles at 7:20 pace, and took Xander for a 6-mile trail run at Harris Park. I still got in my 18 planned miles.
Xander eating ice cream after our run, 5K winner Bobby (between yellow and red shirts), and friend Laura