"Which race are you running?" Sean asked as we were discussing racing options for Thanksgiving day. I replied "The Sheltering Arms 10k". "You should do the 5k, get a fast time in.", he replied. Right then and there I debated whether to do the 10k or the 5k. The 5k is my first love, but I knew this would be one of the few times I would be able to get a fast 10k time in. So I went up to the registration area with my decision still up in the air about which race I was going to do. When it was all said and done I chose the 5k.
Fast forward 2 days later. It's Thanksgiving morning and I arrive at Uptown around 6:45 am. Many people have already arrived. I recalled that last year there was a ton of people and I suspected that it would be at least as packed as last year. My suspicions were later confirmed. The weather seems perfect, so far so good. I go through my pre race routine of a 3 mile warm up and run of the course. One thing I did notice was the course was different from the one that was advertised so I was a little confused.
The race was about 15 minutes away. The crowd at this time was huge. I heard from a couple of people that there were as many as 8,000 participants. I weaved my way from the back of the masses to the front of the line and start my strides. I notice a few familiar faces: Sam Rodriguez, Mahta Mesfun, and my best friend Josue. I check out the cast of characters at the starting line and notice that it is filled mostly with high schoolers and maybe a few college guys. I think to myself, "This should be interesting". Right then and there I challenged myself to be the first one out of the gate. No sitting back and picking people off. No matter who sprinted or how fast they got out of the gate, I wanted to be the first one out. What for? Just because I had never taken that tactic and wanted to see what would happen. As we line up, Michael Garfield, The High Tech Texan, tells us at 4 different times to step back. One of these times he tells a runner "Hey...wanna be runner...messing with your watch...STEP BACK!" I think to myself, that's kind of a bold thing to say, as I mess with my watch. Later on, my friend tells me he was referring to me as the wanna be runner. :-) The 10k participants were lined up on the left side and the 5k participants were lined up on the right side, anxiously awaiting the starting gun.
And the gun goes off. The usual cast of characters fly out like bats out of hell. But instantaneously I shoot out very quickly. It isn't very long that I create a clear space between me and the second guy. I keep it going. A half a mile into the race I'm flying by at 4:30 pace and I hear a guy huffing and puffing to catch me. And he is getting closer. I'm not really worried because I'm making good time, so I decide to ease off the accelerator and relax. 3/4 of a mile in I'm at 4:41 pace and very pleased because I'm exerting minimal effort and feeling good. My pursuer finally pulls up next to me. We both hit mile one at about 4:46(a 1st mile PR) as my watch and the guy calling out the times both confirm it.
The guy quickly drops back. For the next half mile I'm still moving at 4:55 pace and silently amazed at how fast I'm moving. But after Mile 1.5 I start to tighten up a bit and now the actual grind begins. I basically grind away the second mile at 5:09 pace for a 2 mile PR of 9:55.
Mile 3 was a little bit tougher but also a little bit stranger as well. I had started to slow and was up to 5:18 pace. I managed to bring it down to 5:15 pace and was about to make the finishing turn up Post Oak. The only thing is that there was a cross traffic of participants and the police car just couldn't go through. So the cop stopped the car, got out and pointed me to go upstream into the crowd. I thought to myself this is insane. But I had to do what I had to do. So I ran into the crowd and had to come to a complete stop because there was nowhere to go. In a perfect world the crowd would have been on the left side of the road and we could have run on the right side. But this was not the case. So I stood bewildered for about 5 seconds until a few people told me to go across to the north bound lane which happened to be empty. So that's what I did. As I was running I looked around. I was sure that my pursuer had gone ahead of me. But I saw no one. I looked behind me and still saw no one. Could I have dropped the guy? As soon as I thought this a few spectators pointed him out to me. "THERE HE IS, THERE HE IS!" He was running in the south bound road. So there we were, side by side but on different roads. As we started nearing the finish people were screaming for me to go on the south bound side and catch him. I could see the finishes marked off as the 5k finished on the south bound side and 10k on the north bound side. So I bolted for the south bound side and finished ahead of my pursuer by 3 seconds. The final time was 14:59. I immediately knew the course was short but was curious by how much. The Garmin said 2.97 but the timing company later called it a 3 mile race.
I'm pretty happy about the final time given all of the confusion. I know I was in PR range and I did something that I never did in the past. I started out in 4:4x range for the first mile. I also finished 2 miles in under 10 minutes for the 2nd race in a row.
There were an abundance of good performances today and I'd like to congratulate everyone on their races. Here are my splits:
3 Mile Race: 14:59
|Mile 3||5:15 (Lost 5 seconds due to confusion)|
|Total Average Pace:||5:03|