Filed under: Better late than never.
There was a time, when I started racing, that 5Ks were my bread and butter distance. I was in my mid-30s, ran 70 miles a week, ran twice a day. I'd run anything, but 5ks were my race of choice. I could go, run a mile warm-up, run the race, do a half mile warm down and go home.
Hard to image. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Absolutely not. There are moments (when I'm in the Sound and the water is so rough I can't see the buoy 20 feet in front of me) I wish maybe I was still that guy. 5Ks are affordable, the training for them is reasonable, the equipment is affordable...
Those moments always pass. I can't hear Clocks without wanting to be in water of Mirror Lake at 6:59 AM. Or Beautiful Day. I may be kidding myself about being a triathlete the same way I was kidding myself back then about being a serious runner- I was never willing to do the speed work, as far as I'm concerned.
Anyway, I showed up early, grabbed my registration stuff, and went out and ran the course for a warm-up at 7:30 pace. Is that a warm-up pace for me, looking to run about 5:45 ? Who knows ? (Eric knows) Who cares ? I wanted to run the course twice and know I'm a lazy bastard and that after 'giving everything I had (cough cough, eye-roll)' I would wimp out on the warm-down after a mile. Also, Margit's workout would start when my finished, so I needed to run and get home, epecially because we had a party and dinner lined up. And even 10K is barely a workout...
I love this course. Margit and I have both won races on this course (although not this race) and I had my best 5K in several years on the course last year. I spent the last 15 minutes before the race lining up a perfect straight line run through the start, which is uphill and winding. I was all set.
Then about a minute before the race this woman in basic running clothes, training shoes, kind of, well, solid for an top runner, and her boyfriend, who was clearly just well, not a top runner, lineup right in front of me and the guys next to me.
I didn't want to say anything. For all I knew she was some hotshot runner (her boyfriend, not so much).
We started. She totally blocked me. It was insane. The start is very tight and once you are packed in, you really have nowhere to go. She had me absolutely pinned behind her and her boyfriend. It was just like one 3000 I ran in high school where I got boxed in by the other team. Experience told me to bite the bullet, take a few hesitation steps, and get the frak around her and her boyfriend, who was already fading.
I was not all happy thoughts because I then had to work on the hill to return to contact with the people I should have been in contact with. If I hadn't been with Charlie Hornak after the race when I did see her, I might have made a regrettable comment to her, like I did during the race at Griskus to someone.
The race gets off to a fast start. Cheryl Anderson, the first woman and a Branford resident, was right in my general area. I knew as we took the first two turns and headed up towards the seawall that I was not quite at last year's pace, but there were a lot of people around me and I worked up the hill to pass some of them. Then it's mostly downhill after the turn at the top of the hill to the mile mark.
I was on pace to run 17:50 or so. I went through the mile mark and there was a lot of backside pressure but I was trying to run my own race. Cheryl passed me in here I think and decided against battling anymore. I'd try to stay close, but I don't get points for my team- it was a USATF-CT race- for beating unattached (or attached) women. Just open and masters men.
I was a little tired. I'd ridden 60 miles the day before at an aggressive pace because, well, I'm a triathlete. And stupid. Don't forget stupid. I was coming back to the best 5K I'd run in years, a state championship, and running on tired legs.
I could still see George Buchanan, but he was like a mirage wrapped in the pain of my slowness.
We climbed the hill, the course's big hill, and then hit more downhill as we wrapped around a neighbourhood. I took a cup of water at the water stop and poured it over my head, because that's what I do.
I battled back and forth with a couple of runners, wrapped back around towards the main road, remembering from my warm-up that the perceived uphill basically is non-existent.
Then it was downhill again and I was on fumes as we turned the corner and ran towards the back-door entrance to Foran High School. As we made that last turn, I was passed or last contact with three runners, which was hard to take- two would finish just a second ahead of me when I made one last, late- just too late surge.
But when I saw the clock I knew I was breaking 18 for just the second time in the last two years, and although it was 18 seconds slower than last year, I guess I'll take it.
I'm a triathlete after all. Why am I running 5ks anyway ?
Oh yeah, to break 17:30.
I had a nice conversation after the race with Keith 'Newton' Guinta, then warmed down with Charlie.
Glad I went ? Sure. Happy with how I ran ?
Of course not...