Friday, May 7, 2010

Twilight 5k

Total Time: ~60:14
Total Distance: ~8.22 miles
Race: 15:30
Place: 1st

W/u: 22:44 for 3.12 miles
C/d: ~20 mins and ~2 miles

Fun event this evening in Uptown Charlotte. I started my preparation from Inside-Out Sports where I signed a few awards for the Park Road Montessori guys who completed the Let Me Run program. Tonight was their "graduation" race as Melissa Bell and I have spent 12 practices getting them ready to complete a 5k race. Dozens of people have been telling me about the event, the course and the venue for tonight. Everything indicated that it was a great local 5k, and I couldn't help but get excited.

I had to hurry off to Uptown because I knew finding a parking spot was going to be a chore. I would have just started my warm up from Inside-Out Sports, but I had stuff to give the kids running in the race. Luckily, I found the best spot in all of Uptown as it was (a) free and (b) right around the corner from the Wachovia Atrium. After the race I would make a quick fly by my car to see if it was (a) still there and (b) ticketed. Tonight I can safely say I won the parking battle.

I started my warm up around 6:15 pm after being stopped by Mr. Tim Rhodes to chat about Gatorade Endurance Formula. It delayed things a little, but I was still able to check out the race course. I needed to see just how fast the first two miles were and what the final hills were really like. When I got back to the Atrium, the chip pick up line was nearly out the door. I was already in a rush to try and find the LMR'ers so I "elitely" moved to the front of the line and took chip #547. I never did see the boys prior to the race, but I knew Melissa would have things under control.

The start line had the usual suspects like Paul Mainwaring, Stephen Spada and Greg Isaacs. There were a few guys that I felt could challenge for the win like Ryan Bender, a guy with a Charleston Track Club kit (Chris Bailey) and a guy from the Georgetown Running Company (not sure if this guy finished). My plan was to run comfortable for the first 600m, press the pace through the mile, keep pushing to 2 miles and hang on during the hills at the end of the race. I didn't wear a watch for the second race in a row as I am getting back to running strictly on feel.

When we were given the signal to begin (the GPx Series really needs to invest in a starter's pistol), I jumped out to a slight lead. I felt comfortable running into the headwind on Tryon. The goal was not to push until making a turn about 1k into the race. I delicately weaved my way through the baby joggers who got a 1-2 minute head start. I could hear footsteps close behind, but wasn't going to look. At the first turn Ryan Bender made a move onto my shoulder and another runner was nearing the turn. We made a few quick turns that brought us to the mile mark in 4:58. A group of Inside-Out Sports employees cheered me on at the corner of Church and Bland.

I turned the legs loose over the next couple of minutes getting a few strides of breathing room. On the downhill at 1.5 miles I tried to open up a bigger gap. Aaron Linz cheered from under the I-277 freeway. I approached the turn onto Cedar street and prepared for the first hill. After grabbing a cup of water at the water stop to dump on my head, I pressed harder. My hill workout this week gave me the confidence to push on the toughest section of the course. I hit two miles in 9:48. I took a little glimpse behind me as we turned onto 4th St. and saw that Ryan was still in contention if I fell apart.

Pressing to the line. (Photo courtesy of Ashley Armistead).

The final mile was tough, but I was able to maintain effort. In the back of my mind I had Allen Strickland's 4:00 minute wager which he explains here (and makes fun of me for the Tequila 400). I needed to run about 15:40 to earn a beer from Mr. Strickland and that meant I would be running all the way to the tape. I crossed the line in what I thought was a little over 15:30, but turns out I ran just that. After grabbing some water and congratulating Ryan and Chris I headed back out on the course to find the LMR'ers.

On my way back over the course I saw Allen was nearing the final turn. He asked me what I had run, but I told him that he was going to owe me a beer if he didn't pick up the pace. I kept jogging back waving at all the runners until I found Aaron Linz near the Bank of America Stadium. He joined me for a few minutes until I found Jay and Quattro who were about 1k from the finish. I turned around and ran with them to the finish. Jay finished in 28:06, Quattro in 28:59. I repeated this process until all the guys were done. My cool down was done when Garrett crossed in 36:59.

I had a great time tonight because I raced well and got to see the LMR'ers complete their goal. I know they all had a great time and hopefully they've started to enjoy running as sport and not just a part of sport. This is the first race in many months that I actually felt strong and confident. I got to the hill on Cedar St. and didn't back away from the pain. I wasn't going to allow the hills, heat or humidity keep me from running an honest race. I accomplished that tonight and know the training is headed in the right direction.

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