The Big South 5k was on Saturday and it was a race that I have been waiting the entire year to do again. Why you might ask? Well, last year, I was nursing a bad hamstring during the race which made running not only hard but nearly impossible.
This year, the hamstrings were much better and I hoped that I could turn in a little better time.
Following my prerace ritual, I made a slow recon of the course. Every turn, uphill, downhill, and flat were pretty much as I remember them.
Standing at the starting line, I saw some fast guys in the field. These guys were faster than Paul and Kent. Guys going so hard that the Mt. Bike pacer was out of breathe just trying to stay ahead of them.
But I really overlooked these guys and was looking for other Masters runners. That's when to my right, I caught sight of Donny. Donny is always in good shape and if he is racing he is probably in great shape. Now, I had my carrot to chase during the race. I just hoped that I could keep the carrot close enough to see during the race.
After what seems like an eternity – 2 minutes to be exact, we get the final countdown.
There's a surge of people from the line and I feel like I am being engulfed by the sea of runners around me. The start is uphill so my legs are struggling to come up to speed.
We make the first right turn and I am looking at head. I am trying to spot Donny among the other runners. Luckily for me, he is wearing one of the 3T singlets. It stands out in a crowd.
We make the left turn into the neighborhood. My feet are digging at the earth and my breathing is labored. We are barely ½ mile into the race. The distance between Donny and me is roughly 20 yards. It might well be 200 yards. I am not making up any ground.
We make a right turn and head uphill again. My throat and lungs are burning from the sudden ingestion of cold air. We make a quick right turn and a left. Now, I have closed in on Donny and am following in his tracks.
We are going uphill again and I know that I am running harder than I had expected. I can feel both the quads and the hamstrings burning. Mentally, I am trying to settling down and control my breathing.
After the mile, I pull even with Donny. There is another young guy here and the 3 of us form a pack with me in the front.
We reach the top and make the right turn into the 2nd neighborhood.
I know I am fully committed at this point. We hit the slight up hill and my body wants to rebel but I am urging it onward.
We cross over the top. The course goes downhill not a bad or steep downhill, but when you are running hard downhill, it still hurts. I know at the bottom of the hill is the 2 mile point so again I focus on controlling my breathing for the last mile to come.
Both guys are running on my shoulders.
We hit Rae Rd and I am trying to take it up a notch. We make the right into the Target parking lot. Here, the young guy throws in a surge and gaps Donny and me by a couple of yards. We go around the front of Target with Donny just off my shoulder.
Honestly, I knew what was coming and was racking my brain to find a way out of it.
For those not familiar with the Big South course, just before the finish, instead of going to the corner and making a left to the finish, the runners have to make a right turn and essentially go around this building. The 3 mile is on the final corner and the finish line is .1 ahead.
Mentally, I am preparing myself for one more surge. I beat Donny to the first corner, but not to the 2nd and he gets the inside track. This is a bad tactical spot. He accelerates off the turn and I try to follow. My legs are churning against the pavement but they are not churning as fast as Donny's legs.
We hit the final corner and my legs are giving me everything that they have. I realize that I am not closing on him. Under any other circumstances, I would have accepted my fate and cruised to the finish and known that I gave a valiant effort.
But today, I could see the clock and the clock was still reading a time in the 16s. Wow, 16s, the clock must be wrong. Mentally, I am focused on the clock. I don't hear my breathing. I don't feel my feet hitting the asphalt. I only have eyes for the clock and the little red lights slowly flashing 49, 50, 51….
Finally, my body carries my bib number across the line and the intersection of the two triggers the timing machines to stop my counter at 16:54.
By far this is the fastest that I have run in 2 years. Before the race, I had harbored hopes of running faster than last year, but I hadn't imaged going this fast.
This placed me 10th OA and 2nd masters. My congratulation goes out to Donny on his 16:51. He earned it with a great finish.
My run was a good one, but the whole event was made even better by the Team competition. Last year, our TrySports team took home the top honors in the Corporate Division. When, I saw the team competition was back this year, I was already putting our Ambassador team on notice that we were having a team.
Julie, Paul, Kent, Jason, Glenn, Stan, Stefan, Jeremy volunteered their efforts to our team cause. This year, we repeated as champions in the Corporate Division again. Although, we were not the top overall team. This year, it went to a team called the "Big Dogs". They averaged 14:49 as a team. I guess if your team averages less than 15 minutes a title of "Big Dogs" is appropriate. LOL.
This was just an awesome day not only for me but for our entire TrySports Ambassador team. Great Job ladies and gents.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner