Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Trot Double

I just happen to live in a place where I'm allowed the opportunity to run two races on Thanksgiving morning. The first one is a 5K run on roads that I run and ride on all the time, the second is a 5 miler in the same park as Brian's Beachside Boogie.

I look forward to this all year. I'm not sure why except that it's the sort of unique experience that you just have to take. I've also done well at both races each of the times I've done it, so why not go for it ?

Well, it is getting harder. The 5k in Branford started at 0830 one year, I think, then got moved to 0900, and this year they tacked a kids race on at 0900 so the start time for the 5K was supposed to be 0910. Now many races start late, and with kids, you never exactly know what will happen. On the plus side, the Branford race is run by JB, and JB usually starts everything on time. However, of all his races, this one is the only one I've ever seen with major timing issues, and if a timer isn't ready, that's all she wrote.

Margit and I both ran with Ian and maybe the highlight of the day was Ian pounding out half a mile in like 4:56. He's starting to get it....

I helped clear away the cones and buckets at the starting line (also the kids finish line) and @cvelardi started the race.

The 5K
As soon as I heard go, I started running. And I mean running. As hard as I could, not only did I get the exact line I wanted out of the driveway of the middle school and onto Damascus, there was no one around me. I had my headphones still in and all I could hear was the music and the sound of my own feet. There was a car in front of me, but I wasn't actually looking at it. I was just running. There was nothing going on inside my head. We got to the second turn and that point, probably more than half a mile into the race, where it dawned on me that a) what the hell was I doing and b) where the hell was everyone else.

A few seconds later, I was swarmed by a pack of high school and college kids. I tried to stay with them. Sort of. I mostly tried to maintain as much speed as possible. This was my first race since the Ironman and I was feeling good, but I was also slipping right into the pain cave.

Then JT went by me. Damn it. JT is still a great runner.

I just kept running, hoping no one else could slip by me. The turn-around was out there somewhere. The hard part of the race was after the cone- it's a straight out and back. I was watching the backs of the guys in front of me and the people streaming down towards the cone. I felt like some of those people might have enough of a kick, but except for the guy I was battling directly with- a 30 something guy that hadn't been able to hang onto JT. After the cone it was a gentle sloping uphill and I was really suffering, and I was pretty sure after that hard start, I was going to blow up.

But I didn't. JT slowly pulled away, and the 30 something just was able to gap me as we headed back to Damascus, but no one else closed in and as I made it around the bend back, I felt like I was running well. I even thought I might have a shot at breaking 18:00, and I did. I was running hard, but at the same time I was settled.

Maybe too settled. I turned the corer into the school and the clock was right around 17:50.

So close. I ended up running an 18:04. Grrr. So close.

I was 8th overall, and won my age group.

I tossed my chip to a volunteer, went over to my backpack, which I left by the finish line, slung it onto my back and started jogging to y car.

I was worried. I thought if it were later than 9:35, I would not have time to make it. I was whipped, absolutely spent. I got in the car and it was 9:35.

On 95, I did my best to relax. This is because I was basically shelled from the effort of the 5K, and because there was moderate traffic. At first I was making good time, but as soon as I got off the highway there was a mile long backup. What had seemed like plenty of time to get everything done was suddenly nowhere near enough time to get parked, get to the start, and oh, I had to go to the bathroom.

Of course, everyone was headed to the race, so it wasn't really that bad. The road we were driving in on, was also the road the race was on. Got parked.

Jogged to the line.

Settled in with the elite runners, Jessie, the college kids, and so on. Granted, I'm not that fast anymore, but I'm close enough. And then, two minutes after I got to the line, just before the anthem, Maureen got there, so there were two of us doing the double.

The 5 Miler
I don't think I've ever felt like I was in a swim start at a road race, not even New Haven, until Madison Thursday.  I was running in a mix of 50 or so people, moving up past some and getting passed but others. We made the first left-hand turn and it was still tight as hell, just a ton of people. This was the perfect thing for me really because I couldn't think about how tired I was from the other race, I was really fighting it out, and trying my best to stay both in a rhythm and not let anyone get away. I went through the first mile just under 6.

There was some wind out there because there is always wind in Hammonassett. We ran back towards the start and I hit the two mile mark still under 6  minutes a mile. The very top guys were so fast I didn't see them going out as I was going in. I saw Jesse and thought he was top six or seven and was running in the 10th-11th spot. We made the turn and headed back out and now I felt like the race was settling into a rhythm and for the first time I could kind of see and end coming to the race. I was running a steady pace and we were headed out to Meigs Point- once we rounded the turn I'd be in the home stretch.

The tide was in- way in and covering the road. Everyone else ran around the water, which was ankle deep or shallower. I went right through it, because that's how you save time. I hit three miles still under 6 minutes per mile and I was pretty sure I was going to break 30. Was I going to break 30 ? After running an 18:04 I desperately wanted to. But I was back and forth with 3-4 guys. Once we turned the point the wind came on and the running got tougher.

It seemed like everyone was settled in now. We heeded back towards the rotary and we all had our places, just running hard- I passed the four mile mark and I was still sure I'd break 30 by a few seconds. People were streaming out the other direction, at less than 3 miles when we were well past four- and that's with me being beaten by the race winners by 5 minutes, which is a- wow, some fast people. There was only one woman ahead of me, and none pressing.

The last mile was slow. I was running at the same speed as the guys around me, running pretty well, but 30 minutes was getting away and I didn't know it. People were yelling and screaming as we came in and I was still kind of fighting to catch the guy in front of me and hold off the guy behind me. We hit the two mile mark and there was less than 15 seconds to break 30 minutes and I didn't make it. BUt I beat a guy on the line by a few tenths of a second.

I also won my age group by 1:02, running a 30:05.

Overall Impressions
You get what you pay for. I thought I ran the 5K all out and failed to break 18. Would I have broken 30 just running Madison ? I think so.

I have nothing to complain about though. I won my age group at two races- beating 135 others at Madison, 77 at Branford. 3700 other people ran one race or the other slower than I did.

But that's not what is it about, not at all.

I had fun. That's what it is really about.

I had a blast.

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