Geez, you'd think a bear was chasin' me with a title like that. Hmmm, not a bad idea. Maybe, I would run faster. Nahhh, I don't know of any bears that eat turtles so I am probably okay.
Anywhoo, this race was at the fairgrounds in Berea at 9:00am. I arrived at about 8:15am. The race usually drew about 200 participants and with it being a fundraiser for a school to win $5K I thought it could be even more crowded. I was shocked to see only about 20 or so cars when I arrived. Result: a decent parking spot for about 20 minutes or so I thought (I will explain in a minute).
I had not planned on racing today, but the Walrus had called and said he was on his death bed with a cold and was not going to race. I had planned to take pictures of him and the newest member of TEAM EVOTRI as he was looking to renew his runnig confidence after a somewhat less than average 5k (2) weeks prior and Trisaratops after being off the circuit for a year was back for her debut. I was still feeling a little whipped from that 30k. My legs had still not seemed to put in an appearance through the last 2 weeks of running and my dumbass had gone on a trail run with my running buddy and rolled my ankle on Thursday. This normally never bothers me, but it had felt a little tender for the past day or so. I believe it is the result of having a 30 year old body and not that of a 25 year old. So, yeah plan A was shot to hell.
Walked over to registration and signed myself up for the 5k! I was itching to see if I had recovered enough and could run a good race or if my anemia was flaring up and slowing my recovery. I had to know. I had always been a better than average athlete throughout my life and running last year had been like an isotonic contraction...the effort had been there, but no results. It had been a hard, frustrating pill to swallow.
The race was not chipped so I pinned my Bib on my racing jersey and made a mental note to NOT start in the back of the pack where I used to live.
Here is where I refer to the decent parking. I had pulled though the parking spot so someone could park behind me as I saw a row about 10 cars down making its way behind my truck, but some stupid people who couldn't walk from one row over had started parking in front of us too. Now, how the heck was I supposed to get my car out with people behind and in front of me. I have found the only cure for type A people like me that that get annoyed with dumbshit like this is running (biking and swimming). Well, I was running today. I had two choices...1) Wait until someone tried to park in front of me and tell them they were lazy and a dumbass for parking me in and that if they take their dumbass another row back they can use the extra distance as a warm-up or 2) back-up and take two parking spots so no one can park behind me. It was close but with the votes tallied I backed up. I was irritated, but I usually am on race day so I am just fufilling my self-efficacy.
As I was going out for my warm-up with about 30 minutes to start...did my eyes deceive me, was I dreaming, nope...a trisaratops sighting and she was dressed to race. Right away, I smiled and trotted over to say hi and give her a welcome back hug. We went out for a warm-up and chatted about everything, hit the potty and then went back to our cars to strip off our warm-ups. I whipped out the racing flats the walrus had finally talked me into getting and headed to the start.
Tot trot over, cool temperatures to make the unshaven hair on your legs stand up and rain/hail...CHECK...ready to now start the 5k. Trisaratops and I started about 1-2 rows back as we new we would still be faster than most. She said she was using this as a tempo run and it was a little slower than my last 5k pace so the plan was to hold onto me for as long as she could, unless of course I ran +8:00 pace, which did cross my mind. "Don't be negative dumbass." I told myself. I did recognize a few fast people and some members of the former TGR right away. So much for a slow race. I swear I am like honey attracting bees. Every race I go to the speedsters show up.
Trisaratops and I wished each other luck and at "GO," my Garmin and I were off. It was a very, very fast start. There were a lot of guys and a lot of young people. I was unavoidably sucked in. We made it out of the fairgrounds and over a quarter mile with people still jockeying for position and running hard. I was sucking a little more air than I would have liked so I immediately gave myself a mental slap trying to gain control and run my race. There were a few very small rollers through the first mile that seemed to help me gain ground on those around me. There was a little girl about 14 I ran down about .5m out. Then there were these 2 girls from a cross country team that were behind me, then in front of me, then behind me. They were erratically running and the one girl it seemed was trying to draft off her friend from 10 feet behind (silly girl) and in doing so instead of taking the inside corner of a turn nearly ran into me by trying to go wide to follow her friend. I refused to budge and go wide. There was a perfectly open hole on the inside and when I run corners I run tangentially as every second counts. I forced her to the inside and she easily caught her friend and although she may have been annoyed with me I did her a favor. After that I broke away. Mile 1 and the timer calls out 6:43. I nearly stopped dead in my tracks. I had not run a 6:00 pace since high school. I felt really strong and I was elated. I was genuinely shocked and then I remember Trisaratops...oh no! I vocally said "I am sorry S." Hoping somewhere behind me she was not planning on how to kill me. I had gone out way faster than planned. I was saved when my Garmin beeped down the road a few minutes later...7:09. That was better.
I have been reading "Men of Oregon" by Kenny Moore and in his book he describes how Bill Bowerman would instruct his runners to float down the backside of the track during the 400m. I figured I would try it. I told myself to just relax run at a 7/8 and float through this mile. Bowerman also discusses the importance keeping the hips thrust forward to increase the efficiency of lifting the knees during the step over run and of a forceful exhale to remove as much CO2 as possible, so even though I was not short of breath, I was breathing like horse in the Kentucky Derby.
Now during this mile of "floating" two different women, these ones in their 40's had run me down. They passed me but I hung with them only about 10 feet back. Another girl who seemed overdressed in a hoodie and aerobic tights bounded my all three of us seemingly weightless. Needless to say we lost sight of her and she finished well ahead of us. I opted to skip the water stop as not to lose the two ladies and it was only a 5k. Again, every second counts. The timer at mile 2 called 14:02 (7:19). I had faded. My garmin again beeped farther down the road at 7:22.
At that point, I knew another PR was there for the taking so I began doing the calculations to complete the last mile. It goes something like this....
You have 1.1 miles to go, probably less as you talk to yourself while covering ground. At the start of the race when you hit Adams St. you were at 3:16 on your Garmin so anywhere from .25-.5 miles from the finish. When you hit the turn back to Adam's Street now your going to have to pick it up and at the fairground entrance you need to be moving pretty much all out. Stay on those ladies in front of you by the way. Don't lose them. They don't seem to be pulling away from you.
We soon made the turn back on to Adams Street. I was still with those two ladies and a few guys. My roommate had given me some advice the week before about breaking away from someone. She had said the chances of them runnning you down after you pass them and beating you at the finish are very small. I knew I had to breakaway. I picked up the pace and caught the dynamic duo. The one breathlessly said "good job" to me. I thanked her and said you too. I pushed on and pulled ahead, but they stayed with me, one on each shoulder. I could hear their breathing so close. I was hurting and I couldn't shake them. "C'mon, " I told myself. "Break them, pull away, open your stride." And with that I very painfully pulled away. We were so very close to the park entrace, but I had pushed too hard too soon. I was about to crash. After what seemed like an eternity I made it to the park entrance. I could see a guy and a girl ahead of me. I forced myself to forget about what was coming behind me and focus on running them down. I made up some ground on them, but only cause they had not started kicking yet. I was unable pick up my pace further. I could only hold on and even that was about to come to an abrupt stop. I could see the clock and it read 21:?? I was pumped. My lungs were on fire. My body felt like it was moving through quick sand, but it only took 1 second to decided make it or not I was gonna try for sub-22. As I got closer I could see 21:46, :47, :48. Could I throw myself across the finish line in time? Apparently, not. I had good eyes. I could see from miles away. I was too far out. I crossed the finsih right behind the two people I had been focusing on ahead of me. They had beaten me by 1 and 2 seconds. Official time 22:09! Another PR.
I had manage to hold off those two women by a few seconds. I was relieved. My legs were back. My body was healthy. I sent up a small "thank you" prayer. I was okay. I had run my best race thus far in my super fast new shoes and there was no more hail.
After catching enough breath I headed back passed the finish to cheer for trisaratops. She ran under her tempo time and did exceptionally well. She was pumped. She was back and she was racin.' YAY! JayZ would be super-duper proud of his mommy.
We did a short cool-down and changed into some warmer clothes as the hail had ceased, but a steady cold rain wasacomin'down. The race had lots of post-race goodies, so I opted for my coffee and key-lime yogurt while we hung around for the raffle, awards and $5K winners. She gave me some inside info on the good, the bad and the ugly of an ironman while we hung around. I managed to pull off 2nd in my AG as first was a 21:59. Unfortuanately, T and I did not win any raffle prizes, but her school was in the top 3 it looked like to win the money and this birdie mascot was crushin' on us. I didn't have the heart to tell him we were both taken. I was elated another good day of running had befallen me.
So often I think back to the way things were and the runner I WAS and compare them to the runner I AM. I think about how things could change again so quickly, but today was one of those ups when I felt unstoppable (well, almost unstoppable). I don't know how long things will be like this but I don't want to worry or dawdle on it as I seem so often to do, so with that I am going to hide my fears in a box under my bed, accept the fact that I am coming into my own with running and make it official. No more maybe, no more we will see. It may suck and I may fail, but my decision is made. I am now accountable. I am no longer the runner that hopes to try for Boston some day. I will be that runner that tries for Boston at the Cleveland Marathon on May 18th and everybody that thinks I am too slow can KISS MY ASS!! And that my friends, will only be the beginning.....