Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Apex, NC
I had planned on running the Highcroft Hurricanes 5K, a race I ran two years ago. Having forgotten to set my alarm, I nonetheless awoke at 5:23 (the time I wake up every morning). I took Xander for a short walk, and then went to Bruegger’s for my Saturday morning usual. While placing my order, I noticed a half dozen or so large bags full of bagels and commented to the manager, “That’s a big order!” He told me that the bagels were a donation to the Monarchs in Motion race, and when I told him I was running a different 5K he encouraged me to run this race. I told him I would consider it.
Today is Jeff’s birthday, so he awoke early to open his presents. He wasn’t too keen on the idea of my running the Monarchs race, as he looked up last year’s times for both races and said, “You could win the Highcroft race.” I reminded him, once again, that I’m running races as part of my training for the upcoming Highlands Sky 40-miler, and that I was actually looking for competition. He said, “Then run the Catholic race.”
The race was run through a neighborhood, and when I arrived at 7:20 it was already quite crowded; thus I had to park in a lot in front of the church, and was informed by I volunteer that I could not exit until after the last walkers had finished the course. I said to him, “That’s quite alright. I’ll run bonus miles.” He said, “You’ll be waiting to pick up your award anyhow!”
I once again saw Arturo and Francisco (the eventual 3rd place finisher). Arturo was as chatty as ever, and said, “You’re going to win this one. There’s no competition.” He was right about winning, wrong about the competition.
The starting corral was quite confusing, as no one seemed to know in what direction we would be heading. As soon as it was clarified, I scoped out where I would start based upon who else was on the starting line. There were many young people, including both boys and girls. There was also a local female master, who is notorious for starting slowly and has gotten in my way on more than one occasion. I started to the far right, between Arturo and Robert (more about Robert in a moment).
Before the start of the race, the priest said a (surprisingly) nice prayer. The race began, and the very young boys took off—and dropped off about 30 seconds later. By about a ¼ mile, a young man had taken a considerable lead, another young man was in 2nd, and Robert and I went back and forth in 3rd and 4th. By mile one, Robert had taken 3rd, and I was no more than 50 or so meters behind. At about 1.5 miles, Robert passed the young men in 2nd and 1st, as did I not too much later. I encouraged both of them to stay strong.
This was the hilliest 5K race I have ever run, similar to the Southern Village race in Chapel Hill. Very challenging, and not a PR course.
As in races past, Robert would put some distance between us on the uphills, and I would catch up, but not pass, on the downhills. I wanted to see what he had left for the last mile…
Not knowing the course, I wasn’t sure when would be the best time to make a move. I knew, however, that I didn’t want to wait until the last ¼ mile, as I knew it was uphill. At about mile 2.7, I made my move. I passed him on a downhill, and surged up the next hill. He didn’t respond, and I quickly dropped him. I ran to and through the finish, waited a moment for his arrival, and congratulated both him and, a few moments later, Francisco. I grabbed some water, took off my shirt, put on my Zensah calf sleeves, changed shoes, and, as I still needed to get in some miles, ran an additional 3 at 8 mpm pace. As I was finishing, Robert was also cooling down, and he offered his congratulations. I turned around and ran with him for another mile. He let me know that he’s a track coach at Cardinal Gibbons, and he talked about his planning, strategy, and tapering for this race. It was a pleasant conversation.
The race director announced the winners from 3rd to 1st, and we had our picture taken. After he announced (and correctly pronounced) my name, he said, “And he’s the oldest one up here!” I won a $50 gift certificate to Dick’s, which I’ve already redeemed.