Sunday, June 10, 2012

China Grove 5k – “The Great Escape”

Friday afternoon, Mike texted me that he was going to China Grove 5k. Awesome, racing with Mike is always fun. So I head up I-85 fighting through the traffic or maybe I should say "set through the traffic". Travel time was roughly 1 hour and 10 minutes to Concord and then there was maybe 15 minutes of driving on to China Grove.

But all was well, because I expected the traffic delay and allowed plenty of time. Got to the race and picked up my number. Followed it up by hanging out with Dave Freeze until I heard from Mike.

A little after 8 we headed out for a little course preview and long the way we ran in to Tony. Tony was the guy who finished 2nd last weekend at the June Bug 5k.

We checked out the course and swapped stories before finally splitting off to make last minute race preparations.

The field looked fast. There was a bunch of guys from Asheville running and Devin Swann running from the Raleigh area.

There were some familiar faces that I hadn't seen in a while like Robert Miller. Robert turns 40 in a couple of weeks so add another tough Master's Runner to our ranks. My job never gets any easier. Is it possible for me to turn back time and turn 40 all over again? Help please.
We assemble at the starting and it is getting good and dark.

After a few prerace activities and the timing guys from RMS Sports arrive, we are set.

They blew horn and finally, we were off.

Man, I felt like I was stuck in the mud as hordes of people were passing me.
We pass by the finish and I am thinking "where are my running legs". I have totally lost count of the people passing me. Bobby Aswell is running in front of me. Milton Matheny was running beside me. Chris Page was front of me. Man, I am feeling like I going to get my lunch handed to me and shown the door.

But slowly my legs begin to windup. By the mile, I am starting to move past a few people.

I swing in behind this girl with a huge pony tail. Her pony tail was swinging back and forth. As I got closer, I recognized that it was Molly Nunn.

She was digging hard and going in the direction that I wanted to go. So I followed.

She was picking people off and I was just hung on.

As we near the turn around, I glance at each runner coming at me looking for Mike. I want to give him a shout out of encouragement as he passes.

But with each stride we are getting closer to the turn, I don't see him. But I do take note of a guy in a white shirt and in what I believe to be a red headband. This was exactly what Mike was wearing at the start.

I suddenly realize that I am only about 15 yards behind him.

We hit the turn and I make sure that I am on the outside of our little group. My hope is Mike doesn't see me.

I have no idea if he does or not. And, I certainly was not going to bring up the fact that I was close behind him. LOL.
After the turn, Molly makes a huge surge and I again follow. We pass Tony and a few other guys.

The distance between us and Mike gets trimmed to about 5 yards. I surge just ahead of Molly and close it to about 2 or 3 yards. Maybe Mike sees our shadow or maybe he feels us coming but he throws in a surge. This rest of the 3rd mile plays out this way. I get close and he surges. My plan is to hold just a little bit in reserve and throw a surge at him when we are side by side. We get to the 3 mile mark and someone from the side lines "yells get him Bill". Suddenly, Mike (I believe) realizes whose shadow is almost to his shoulder and puts in a sprint that I didn't think he had. At this point, I burn all of the matches in my energy book.
Who knew that a tenth of a mile could feel like forever?

The lights of the finish line were in sight but the last of my energy was gone. Mike snips me by 2 seconds and Molly and I cross the finish line in a tie.
Man, I got so close to beating him that I could nearly taste the bragging rights. Then, at the list minute the carrot got jerked away. That's just the breaks of racing. I realize; I probably would never have pulled that much out of my body if he hadn't been right in front of me and for that I do owe him a big "thank you".

Going into the race, my goal was to run a 17:30 time. I clocked a 5:34, 5:36, and 5:38 with a :38 tenth which gives me a 17:27. I am pretty happy with the time. This placed me as the top Masters Runner for this year. Chris Page was the 2nd Master in 17:44 and Milton was the 3rd Master in 17:47. The Master's division had a very tight race.

Warm down in the books and the awards complete, the drive back to Charlotte was the only thing left on the to-do list. I have to say. The drive home was pretty good. I was happy with the results of the evening.

Sharing one thought at time,

The Cool Down runner

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