On Saturday morning I headed down for the 8th of 9 Grand Prix Races in the Run For Your Life Series. The 8th race is a tough little 10k course in the uptown area of Charlotte called the Brixx 10k.
Looking at the map of the course, Tim and his team had changed the course from the last time that I ran the race. Instead of the long uphill pull from the Central Piedmont campus to the uptown, the course cuts across behind the college and retraces most of the first mile back to the finish. While it doesn’t totally remove the hill because the Charlotte Uptown sets on a hill, it does reduce the grade and length of the up hill running.
I arrived for the race at about 6:30 AM and parked in the 7th street parking deck. It is a great place to park as it is located between the finish line and the starting line.
I met Mike B. and Chris L and headed out for a couple of miles to warm up before the race.
Then it was off to change shoes and some prerace striders. I like to do about 6 to 8 good strides during the last 10 minutes before the start of the race. This helps me feel like I am ready to run fast. Whether it is true or not, I never know until the race starts.
I saw Steve Spada at the starting line and went over to wish him luck. Even thou we are battling for the GP Master’s Title, I want everyone to run their very best.
The verbal commands were given and we were off. I settled in behind/beside Steve and just behind Chris and Mike.
We hit the mile in about 5:45 which felt slow to me. Chris pulled out about 10 to 15 meters in front of us. Mike, Steve, and I continue together. We were catching a few guys as they started to drop off the pace.
By mile 3, I had pushed ahead. Mike joined me briefly then dropped back. As we neared the end of a long down hill, Steve came up on my shoulder and started to up the pace.
I did my best to match his efforts. The course then turned up hill. Steve dropped off my shoulder at this point. I passed another guy and started to make some ground up on Chris.
As we pushed further up the hill, I pulled even with Chris. At this point, I was throwing in small surges. I was hoping to put some ground between myself and Steve and Mike.
When Chris and I crossed over the top of the hill, Chris quickly started to gap me. I tried to stay with him, but he was definitely stronger on this section.
At one of the turns, I saw Steve and Mike were working together or at least running together. I was hoping Mike wouldn’t tow Steve back to me. I know both Mike and Steve are very strong finishers.
I hit the final hill heading back to the finish. Chris was still a short distance in front of me. I used this fact to help drive my self forward. In addition I knew if I let up at any point both Steve and Mike would catch me. Look fo motivation where ever you can find it.
I passed by the 6 mile point and started my closing kick. The last .2 has one corner and then a straight line to the finish. I used the one corner to take a peek out the corner of my eye to see how far Steve and Mike were behind me. They were close but not close enough today. I put in one final sprint and came in just ahead of them by a few seconds.
The Brixx 10k was a good run for me. It was the fastest 10k that I have ran this year - 35:40. That is considering that the course is very tough and my Garmin measured the course at 6.32 miles.
However, I cannot fault the measuring of the course for all of the extra distance. At several of the corners we were asked to run around the outside of the cones. It doesn’t take many wide tangents to soon add up the extra distance.
After the race, Mike and I headed out for 6 more miles of warm down.
When we got back, I stepped into Brixx to grab some free pizza and rigatoni. I had to eat quickly because the awards were getting ready to start.
I received a tiny little medal for my efforts. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining. A lot people that ran the race and didn’t win an award unless you count the free food and beer. As I set here thinking about it, maybe free food and beer are not such a bad thing in light of these tough times. Running and the social atmosphere after race can provide a welcome relief from our otherwise busy lives.