What to freakin’ say about this one.
Lets start with the good stuff. I took 1st place overall. Mind you, it was a smaller race and last year’s time gave me a hint that I’d have a shot at winning if a similar crop of runners showed up. That never happens though, right? So in my mind, a top 3 spot seemed more likely.
I’ll share the story of the race in just a bit but let me say this – yes, it wasn’t a fast race nor was it a large one but this was a bucket list goal of mine: to win a 5K. My son saw me twice (thanks to his awesome Papa for watching him and bringing him out to see me) and gave me the biggest smile ever.
Years ago, I recall looking up my grandpa’s times for the local turkey trots he’s done. He’s no longer with us but that was such a cool thing when I found his name on the old race results on a local site that keeps track of that stuff.
One day my son can see that his Dad won a race. That’s pretty cool (because there’s a good chance I may never win another one!).
Before the race, as we bunched up by the starting line I was checking out the competition. Lots of younger kids (not the ones you’d be worried about) were at the front. Then came another younger dude, with a XC hoodie on (the one you’d be worried about).
I thought, “uh oh.” His name was Connor. I only know this because the kids were raving about him and asking him all sorts of questions and even chanting his name! I thought, “fuck you Connor.” (just kidding, I love you man). He was the only one who looked like he was on one of the running teams so I figured he’d be a 16 minute racer.
I was unusually anxious and nervous before the gun went off. My expectations were super high. Even on my best day, could I live up to them was the question?
I knew the course fairly well after warming up on the first half of it. We shot out and I felt pretty good. I took the lead after running the tangents like a pro (a first for me!).
I wondered who would shoot ahead of me. Nobody responded. I didn’t bother looking back – it was way too early.
Mile 1 ticks off. I see something like 6:23. Hmm. Not bad but I honestly felt like I just ran a 6:15 mile. I can live with 6:23 though.
At this point I was running by feel and making sure I was above 260 watts and that I was. I guess that’s why I expected a better split there.
The coolest part of being in the lead? Having the cop car in front of you lead the way. It just felt cool. More on this son of a buck in a bit.
This was the point my main competition emerged. A guy who was in the 20-24 age group was appearing in my peripheral.
This was also the point where I saw my father in law and son. Pretty neat for them to see me in the lead, especially my FIL. I knew this had to provoke many thoughts, like “hold on dude!” But he’s been in many, many races and he knew there was a lot of race left.
We head down Charlotte Avenue and I know exactly where we are going and what to expect with the little undulations.
He’s literally on my right shoulder now. We turn down a street that has a little decline. I’ve done half mile repeats on this street many a time. I push going down these declines because I know that was the time to do it. He’s definitely not as close.
So here’s the real interesting part of the story.
I had to email the race director for a course map since they didn’t have one online.
Check this out:
That little segment inside the red circle is what changed this year. The person noted in the email that instead of doing that rectangle , just make a right on Hunt Ave (highlighted part).
Well guess what the cop car did? It went the old way. The wrong way.
I had to make a decision at this point. I was told the new way was to go down Hunt Avenue. I had the 2nd place guy right on my tail. If I go rogue here and go right, will he? Or would he have followed the cop car and assumed I was either wrong or trying to take a shortcut? And had I done that, would it have created confusion among the other races behind us? The best case for all of us was to accept that the course would go longer and avoid all of that mess and just follow the cop car.
This is the problem with an uncertified course. I tried finding a certified one to fit in my schedule but it just didn’t happen. Lesson learned.
I told race officials afterwards what the cop car did and they chuckled. One person said as long as everyone ran that way, it doesn’t matter. Here I am thinking, yes it does matter! I want to run really hard for 3.1 miles, not any longer. At the end of the day, that’s just what you may have to deal with on an uncertified course.
So where was I? Alright. we are approaching Mile 2 and my watch goes off with a 6:3X split. Argh, how did I slow down? I didn’t obsessively monitor my power. I occasionally checked if I was above my personal power goal of 260 watts and I was close to that line most of the mile. Oh well – time to kick it up for the last mile.
Shortly after this point, I saw my father-in-law and son again and this time I was definitely ahead of my main competition by a few feet. I couldn’t hear a lot of what he was saying but my FIL definitely shouted “Finish it, Bill!!” He was screaming other words of encouragement as I passed and I have to admit – it gave me a hell of a boost. I just had to hang on for a little bit longer.
My big goal was get to 2.5 miles and lay the hammer down. Bury him.
Before I knew it, 2.5 miles arrived and I said, OK it’s go time. I tried picking it up just a bit more and this is where I put some distance between me and my main competitor.
2.75 was the next time I checked my watch. I told myself, run a fast 400 meters, dude! Once I get to 3 miles, I can sprint home. Well, the strategy worked except for one thing – I had a little more to run than .1. Instead the final distance was 3.23.
I admit – I kept peaking behind my right shoulder to see if he closed the gap any. I was worried. I didn’t have a ton of juice left in my legs. I really didn’t want to have to dig even more than I did. Thankfully, he was just far enough behind for me to realize that I was going to win this thing. It felt really incredible for a few moments.
And the clock didn’t work at the finish line so I had no idea what I ran in that time frame initially. Shortly after someone said 20:54.
That’s nowhere near my goal or prediction. But the extra distance does count for something. According to Strava, I hit the 3.1 mark around 20:09 so I was still well off the mark from my goal.
Here are the splits:
So here I was, totally conflicted after I crossed the line. On one hand, I just won the race. I think that definitely impacted how I ran. I was so focused on that as opposed to a time goal but… I was running as fast as I could so it’s not like I was being strategic and costing either of us time. I think I was mostly disappointed by the extra distance. And if I’m being real – I was pissed I didn’t run faster splits. I need to be faster dammit!
I cooled down for a few miles and the awards began. Found out I won a signed game-ball by LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills. Check it out.
I feel like I have a lot more to write about this one but I’m going to leave it here for now. I really feel like I have a lot more to give and the best has yet to come. I’m never satisfied after a race. I need to run a hell of a lot faster to even think I’m ready for a BQ.
I’m really curious about what power I averaged for the race, and my RE and how this changes my power zones. Let’s just say Coach sent me an interesting message that I will share tomorrow. Hopefully I will have the answers to all of this and how close am I to a BQ.