Wow. A record crowd showed up for the 5K in Milford (USATF-CT Championship race #3). 400 hundred race day registrations, which was enough to blow through the all the registration forms, race goody bags, and force Marty to delay the race by twenty minutes.
I was certainly not expecting much. I did do three hour plus runs in the week since the Fairfield race, but not were speed workouts. With my knee being sore still, it's much easier for me to go out and ride- 60 miles on Sunday, 42 in 2 hours yesterday. I rode hard yesterday, pushing in the wind and going after some decent hills.
As the sanctions representative for USATF-CT and a member of the LDR committee, it's great to have such a large crowd for the race. As an athlete, well, the guys that show up because it's a USATF-CT race are better athletes (than me, that's for sure) and that means my name sinks down the results list like a stone.
Holiday races tend to offer one feature other races may not- costumes. Guys in red,white and blue top hats, suspenders or other patriotic gear. This year, I saw a guy in his late 60s or early 70s in cowboy boots. He started, unbelievably, in the third row. He apparently ran the entire race in the boots- no socks. I'm thinking some really scary blisters happened there.
The front was really tightly packed and as often is the case I wanted to get a team box going but there were only three of us standing right there. First Chad Brown was nice enough to move his feet a little, then I got some help from one of my teammates and managed to get off the line. My right foot had actually been turned out and back, which is not how you want to start a short race.
Sort of. The race featured some pretty serious false starts, which I won't go into because they were accidental and did not affect the finish. Meanwhile, although I was in the second row, the middle sagged backwards while the ends went forward. The race starts up a sort of sloping grade. Hill would be a strong word, but not much. I was in about 60th place as we took the first turn. I was behind a number of women, several kids in basketball shorts and high-tops, this guy Rodney with the the big head band, and possibly, although I can't confirm it, Doc Whitney.
It could easily turned into panic time, however, a number of people around me are people I should be either right behind or in the area of as I watch them run away, so I settled in. My knee had been bothering me all through the warm-ups, during strides, and I tried doing a knee-bend once and that was definitely a bad idea. However, as I started running hard- but controlled- it really didn't bother me. In fact, it might have helped me have a better race by forcing me to run a little slower.
I was just over 5:30 for the first mile and I seemed to be out-dueling people on the hills. There was a lot of back and forth and a few guys passed me, but I felt like I was having a good, controlled race. I hit 2 miles at 11:20 and still going ok. Marty saw me when I gave the V sign and he called out my name.
I was a little gassed in the last mile. I haven't run a 5K since Christopher Martins. I let one guy get passed me, but other than that, I held my won as we took the last turn. I was sure Kerry was bearing down on me and teammate or not, I didn't want any women beating me. That's silly, I suppose, but oh well.
I went through at 17:48. Wow ! First, it's kind of sad that 17:48 would excite me. Five years ago, I was still running sub-17s on really good days. Of course, I was probably running 5-6 days a week back then, still doing speed work, and so on.
However, it's a good time for me. The last time I broke 18:00 minutes was a 17:59 at Christopher Martins in 2005 and it was my fastest time since a 17:47 at the Corporate Challenge in August 2005. It was also 20 seconds faster than last year, although last year's race was my best training day before Lake Placid (I followed up the race with a 98 mile ride, my longest of the year outside the Ironman). 18:08 was the closest I had all last year, even the one race I won...
Better still, teammates of mine were the top man and woman- Kerry for the women, Oscar for the men.
But the biggest shocker of all- Charlie Hornak shaved his head...