What a wonderful way to end one year and bring in the next! Jeff and Tegan also ran this race. The course began and ended at the Cary Aquatics center. The race was well organized, and the course was well marked and well-lit (for being held in the middle of the night). Most of the course took place on the Cary Towne Center parking lot.
It was nice that the center was open, as it was a moist and somewhat chilly (45) outside, so we stayed inside until close to the start time. I ran a mile or so to warm-up, and then went to the starting line at about 11:50. I struck up a conversation with a high school runner (wearing Mizuno Precisions), and he informed me, when I asked, that he was planning on running the course in 16 minutes. My goal was to run close to 18. There were other high school and college runners as well. What a better way than partying to bring in the new year. Certainly a much healthier way.
The race began promptly at 11:59. The first sharp, right turn was just 20 or so meters from the starting line, and a young man cut me off. I actually lost my footing and almost tripped. Since he then began leading the race, I didn’t give it much more thought. Karma, however, is a bitch.
My watch beeped to let me know it was midnight. Jeff was behind me, so I silently wished him a happy new year and 16-year anniversary.
I ran side-by-side with the eventual winner for the first mile or so. The course crossed Cary Towne Boulevard and then circled a ball park before crossing the Boulevard once again. (As I always do, I thanked the police officers for holding traffic. It might seem like a waste of energy, but I appreciate all that they do to keep the races safe.)
I ran the first mile in 5:30. As it included downhills, this didn’t surprise me. I ran the second mile in 5:50. As this included all of the turns around the ballpark and the crossings of the Boulevard, I was pleased with this split.
It was during mile 2 that the leader/tripper began to falter. Karma. The eventual winner (a member of the Duke xc team, I believe) passed him, as did I. I wished him luck, and told him to stay strong.
At the turnaround, just before the mile 2 marker, one of the volunteers yelled, “Good job Paul! You can catch him! Pick it up, pick it up!” I have no idea who that person was.
I was running hard, and it was taking much effort. I would gain distance on the leader, and then fall back. As I was well aware of how far away the other runners were, I didn’t feel overly motivated to run much faster.
I ran mile 3 in 5:40. Not bad at all. I realized that I could run a sub-18 minute race. That was all the motivation that I needed for my finishing kick! I finished 13 seconds behind the winner, and the race director called my name as I neared the finishing line. I had the chip removed from my shoe, and I was off to find Jeff and Tegan.
Since I wanted to run as much of the race as I could with Jeff, I didn’t slow down my pace very much, and was probably running 6:1o or so mpm. I was getting strange looks from the finishers as I was running fast, but in the opposite direction. I was sure to say encouraging words to those not wearing headphones.
I found Jeff, and he had about 3/4 of a mile or so left. He was running strong, and I felt very, very proud. I talked with him, but didn’t ask him questions. He is a very good uphill runner, which I am not. He put in a nice finishing kick, and ran his fastest 5k (28 and change). I immediately ran back to run in Tegan, and she wasn’t very far behind. She, too, put in a nice finishing kick.
I received a trophy and a finisher’s certificate. Tegan was kind enough to take pictures.
This is my second fastest 5K time, and the fastest 5K time I have run since turning 40. I am convinced that the break from running, the focus on yoga and biking, and particularly the core conditioning training (with the exceptional trainer, Michael Kelley) were all keys to my improved performance.