Loose as a goose from the previous bad race, I was ready to go. I wanted to expel the demons from the last race.This race would be a straight out and back course and completely flat. Even though it was in the warmer part of the year I felt that a fast race could be had. I arrived early and did a 3 mile warm up. During my warm up I thought about the 9 mile progressive run that I had done 2 days earlier where my run had gone down to the 5:20's. I thought to myself, I wasted my race right there! Sure enough my legs agreed as I had trouble running faster than 8:30 pace on the warm up. On my way back I ran into J.P. Machemehl. Sugar Land is his hood and so seeing him here was not a surprise. We both talked about how slow we felt and were basically having a contest about who felt the worst. He said he wasn't going to go out any faster than 5 minute pace and I said if there is nobody but me and him in contention then I won't go out any faster as I really didn't feel up to it. On my way to the starting line I saw fellow Kenyan Way Elite runner Carlos Arias. He, like myself, had a bad experience at the Astros 5k and I'm sure he also wanted to exorcise the demons.
Soon enough we lined up and the gun sounded and we were off. We started out pretty slow as no one really wanted to pick up the pace. the first quarter mile a kid, maybe 8 years old, led the charge. Then a master runner who I'll call "Indio" since that's his nickname led for another quarter mile. We must have been running about 5:17 pace at the time and for the first time in a looong time I felt like a crowd of people (20+) were directly behind us. Then J.P. picked it up a touch and we (Carlos, J.P., and I) quickly separated with the rest of the crowd. J.P. finished the mile in the first position, Carlos second, and me third, 5:08 mile.
During the initial part of the 2nd mile I felt like we were jogging, which was fine with me, because I was slightly averse to feeling pain at the moment. We hit the turn around and that is when J.P. started to pick it up pretty good. Carlos started breathing heavily so I ran ahead and placed myself in a better position behind J.P. After a while I started to feel uncomfortable myself. I started to reach that point in the race where I always ask myself "WHY DO I DO THESE RACES?!" J.P. started to pick it up even more. Then I asked myself the second question I always ask during a race, "WHAT IF I STOPPED RIGHT NOW?!". Inevitably my desire to finish always overrides my desire to quit so I kept going. During this time I also thought to myself J.P. is out in front and I know he feels more comfortable running from the front. I hoped to myself that he doesn't turn the dial up even faster. Second mile 4:59.
The third mile was tough but by now mentally I know the race is almost over and I have less than a mile left. Fortunately for me J.P. didn't turn it up even another notch and I was able to hang on during the 3rd mile. Right before the 3 mile mark is where I pull up along side J.P. and I almost expected him to slow down a little bit because I was hoping he wasn't going to make this a hard last .1 miles. Unfortunately he started pushing so I had to push too. And right at the last moment I broke for it and created some slight separation and ended up nipping him at the finish by 1 second. I jokingly chastised him for making the race so hard as I laid sprawled out on the road. The last mile was 5:03 and the last .1 was 31 secs.
It was a great race. The final time was 15:41 which is my fastest time in about a year and a half. Yes, it's been that long since I've raced this fast. The cool thing is that I did it this summer which bodes well for me hitting 15:30 or better sometime this year. I have to thank J.P. for pushing the pace so hard during the race as without him I probably would have run 16:xx.
Once again it was a great race. I was happy to run in front of true heroes who would sacrifice their lives for our country and who have sacrificed their well being for us. They are true bona fide heroes and they have my utmost respect and appreciation.
2 months ago