I am sorry; this is a few of days late.
Saturday was a huge day for the Running Community in Charlotte and I wanted some time to let it all digest.
First, let me say that Saturday was simply amazing. I cannot remember seeing so much quality runners in the Charlotte – aside from maybe Foot Locker. There were 12 men in the open race under 30 minutes for the 10k. With nearly 400 entered in the open race, the slowest runner in the 10k was just over 45 minutes. I am giving a special shot out to Mike for running 35:31 against top caliper runners.
The Masters' Race had 400+ runners which was the largest field of any of races. The Masters' winning time was 32:36 and the guy was 49 years old so I guess there is still hope for me to run a PR.
The women's races were a little tougher to gauge since they were running the odd 6k distance. I have run with Kelly, Jocelyn, Meagan, and Caitlin from time to time. When they came through in 42nd and 60th place, there were definitely some fast women abound. As a team, they held their own by finishing 9 out of 29 teams.
Watching really good runners, there is one thing they all tend to have in common. They make the act of running look so fluid and effortless. I often wish I could some copy how they doing it and run the same way.
But to my race recap, I met up with Rocky, Matt, Chuck, and David before the race. I handed out numbers to everyone except David whom I had seen at the expo and had given him his number and shirt.
Then it was off to change and to get in some warm up miles. We ran along the first couple of miles of the course so we could watch the Women's Masters' race before heading back to the car and shedding the last of my warm our gear.
I headed back to the starting line and was just in time. Race officials were going down the row making sure everyone had on the same running jersey. If you don't understand, don't feel bad. It is a USAT&F thing. All team members must dress alike.
Then it was time for a hands-in morale booster and final instructions.
Honestly, I didn't really have a game plan for this race – short of not ending up in the lake when we were coming off the hill.
Bang! Suddenly, 400+ middle men with from joking and laughing to deadly serious. The one thing I have learned about cross country is personal space is a rarity. Suddenly, guys were elbowing and pushing. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw one guy go down. There was no time to look or stop – least I would go down as well.
If you are familiar with Mc Alpine 5k course, we started about 50 yards further down. This means we had lot less time before 400 guys merged on to a 6 foot wide path.
Since our team's starting position was in the middle, I was maintaining my line as we all converged on to the 6 ft path. At this point, I had a decision to make. I could go left toward the hard packed dirt or stay to the right and run a little further on the grass. I decided to move over to the dirt. It was probably the wrong decision because I almost immediately ran into a traffic jam.
It didn't really matter and was probably a good thing. My breathing was totally off. There didn't seem to be enough oxygen available. In addition, I was feeling that dryness in the back of my throat that I get when I run to hard a cold day.
By the time I made the first turn, we were so tightly bunched that I had nowhere to go. I was just trying to avoid clipping the two guys' directly in front of me.
As we approached the hill, some breathing room was actually starting to open up. I could see the 2 or 3 feet of dirt between me and the runners in front of me. It was the first time where I could see the ground to put my feet. Up to this point, I was putting them down without knowing where they were landing. Luckier for me I run at Mc Alpine regularly.
We did the back loop of the Mc Alpine course and I was starting feel a little better. My breathing wasn't under control but at least the legs felt okay. We came out by the lake and headed back down the long straight-a-way.
It was great having the CRC support along the course. Mike was screaming at me at several points along the course. I remember hearing Megan yelling and Ben yelling something about using that "Marathon strength". Ben, at the point where you saw I was already using that strength. There wasn't anything left.
Funny how cross country races work, I pass a few people and a few people pass me. They are not necessarily the same people.
The first time up the hill was tough, but decent.
The 2nd time up the hill, it hurt.
The 3rd time, well no one should have to run it a 3rd time. My legs were ready to cry "uncle" at this point and felt like "butter". I came down the hill and a few guys got away from me. I hit the 6 mile and I was ready to finish.
Mike was standing behind the finish area and asked me how it was. "Tough" would be the word that I will use here to describe it.
Our team finished in total time of 3:07:17.80 seconds for an average of 37:27. We were 18th out of 23 teams. Rocky finished in 7th place. I finished 105th and 43rd in my age group. David finished 120th. Matt finished in 124th. Chuck finished in 130.
Rocky was clearly showing is newly minted Masters' status. He led the race for while before coming home in 33:17. I finished in 37:24, David in 38:21, Matt in 38:39, and Chuck in 39:24.
In my personal opinion, we did all right.
Realistically, time and distance don't mean as much as it does for road race. It is all about how you and your team's placement.
Getting the opportunity to have such a national caliper race here in Charlotte and compete against other runners of this quality was absolutely incredible.
This is exactly why running is the most unique sport on the planet. I will never play football on the Panther's field or hit an infield grounder at Yankee Stadium, but I can cover the same dirt that these guys do. In the case of Saturday, I was also swallowing the same dust. LOL
Before ending, I wanted to take a moment and thank Rocky, David, Matt, and Chuck. There were several times when I thought I wouldn't be able to get a team together but these guys stuck it out and we had a great time racing Saturday. Thanks, I really appreciate you guys helping me make this goal of happen.
Happy Holidays from the Cool Down Runner