Paul, second from the right. Photo courtesy of the lovely Shannon Johnstone.
Date: Saturday, February 27, 2010
Place: Cary, NC
Pace: 5:43 mpm
I had originally planned to run a half marathon last weekend, but, due to slippery course conditions and my fear of injury, I backed out at the last minute. I then seriously considered running the Crystal Coast half, but Jeff suggested we stay in town and both run the Green Hope 5K, as it was held mere miles from our house and he wanted (somewhat desperately, it seems) to run a race.
I wore 2XU compression shorts AND brand spanking new calf compression sleeves. I wanted to try the calf sleeves before upcoming marathon. I very much like. I also wore Brooks Green Silence running shoes. I very much like for shorter races, but don’t think I’ll wear during a marathon. Mizuno Ronins, yet again.
As the race didn’t begin until 9, I was able to sleep until 5:30. Don’t laugh, this is an hour later than I usually get out of bed. I walked Xander, got bagels and coffee from Bruegger’s, and watched some of last night’s Olympics. (I think Apolo was robbed of his medal.) Jeff and I arrived at the HS around 8, and picked up our packets. I got a tee shirt, as they still had them in my size, but Jeff did not. Boo!
The facilities were behind the track, and this was about .25 miles from the start. As the track was open, I ran a mile of so to warm-up, and did 4-point squat stretches. Even though I ran 7 miles between 6:40 and 6:10 mpm pace on Thursday, my legs felt fine. What a relief!
I peed one last time, and headed for the start. I then had a very strong thought: I do not want to run this race. Where did that come from?
I saw former running team members R and J. R is a masters runner and an all around nice guy. We stood beside each other at the starting line (that’s him to my left), and caught up, as it has been about a year and a half since last we’d spoken. I pointed out the person who I thought would win, and R confirmed that he was elite, having just run a 2:17 marathon. He did win, and I didn’t even come close to finishing near him. I knew from the start that it was going to be a race for second.
I asked R his expected finishing time, and he said 17. I heard other runners, mostly high schoolers, mention finishing times in the 16s and 17s. All signs were that it was going to be a competitive race. (BTW, J talked about R, saying that he was underestimating his abilities. Something tells me she was none-so-secretly hoping that he would beat me.)
The fun went off promptly at 9, and a big pack of 20 or more runners, myself included, took off at break-neck pace. My goal was to not get caught up in the sharp right turn just 200 or so meters up the road. I managed to avoid catastrophe, and I also wasn’t tripped. By this time there were at least 15 or so runners ahead of me, and the eventual first place finisher had already put quite some distance between himself and the rest of the pack.
I spent the next .75 miles or so picking off runners one and two at a time. I was then in 4th place. I caught the then third place young runner just past the first mile (5:28.51 mpm), and said, “Good job! Try to keep up with me and we’ll catch the next guy!” He faded. The second mile of the course was a little more challenging, as we took a horseshoe turn and headed into a headwind. The young man then in second place was too far ahead for me to draft, so I just focused on forward leaning and running strong. We took a few more turns into a neighborhood, and at one point almost ran past a turn, as the volunteers were busy looking at something beside the road. I’m happy that the runner asked them if it was a turn.
I finally caught the young man then in second place just past mile 2 (5:54.42), looked at my disappointing split, and knew I wasn’t going to be able to run a personal record. The glass was still half full, as I knew I could still finish in under 18 minutes.
I was going to run with the young man, as I didn’t want to kick too early for fear that he’d pass me at the finish; thus, I didn’t surge. He slowed down a bit, though, so I continued running. I ran mile 3 in 5:34.48, and was pleased.
The last part of the course was run on a track. This involved a sharp right turn, 100 meters running into a headwind, 100 meters running into a sidewind, and the last 100 meter home stretch. I could clearly see the clock, and knew that I didn’t have to go all out to finish under 17. I also knew that no one was close behind. I ran the last .10 in just over 50 seconds.
I ran through the finish, grabbed a bottle of water, and ran to find Jeff. He was much closer to the finish than I anticipated. He finished very strong, knocking off 3 minutes from his previous best time.
I spoke with Anthony C., Shannon J., R, and others after the race. Oh, pancakes, hot chocolate, and coffee were the post-race snack!
I received a medal for first place male age 40-49, and gift certificates, totaling $60, to a local running store.
A fun race, a nice day with Jeff, and a wonderful run with my dog Xander immediately following the race.