Once again the holiday season is upon us and every year, I just cannot help myself. The time of year leaves me shivering with excitement. People are hustling and bustling as they jump from place to place meeting up with their friends and buying gifts. And along the way there is so much great food to enjoy.
But for us runners, there are races to run. I cannot keep count of the number of Turkey Trot races in the surrounding Charlotte area and sometimes before and after the Santa runs.
When my schedule permits, the Santa Scramble 5k in Concord is always on my must do list. This race is put on by the Concord Park and Rec. Dept. and is run as the first float in the Concord Christmas Parade. Meaning that contrary to must races that you will run around Charlotte, this one has people lining the streets for 75% of the race. Not to mention, the course is one of the fastest around. Thus, the combination of these two features, brings a ton of people to the starting line and regularly produces fast times.
Not surprising, I found myself standing at the starting line on Saturday afternoon. My mouth was watering in anticipation of the expected run. The race typically can start anywhere between 2 and 2:30. The parade director gives the park and rec guys a thumbs-up that we can start.
Runners are spilling on the street. The race director motions for us to back up. Then back up again. In fact, we back up nearly to highway 29. I have run this Santa Scramble numerous times and this is the fartherest back that we have ever started.
As everyone is moving back, I spend a few minutes talking to the guy directing us to the starting line. It is a good conversation and then, we hear 4 minutes until the start.
I say my goodbyes and head off to do a couple of more strides.
Then, finding my place on the starting line, I set myself for the task head. Every start, I make a mental note to see who else is in the field. What I see is a lot of guys who are not old enough to shave yet standing on the starting line.
The thought is interrupted by someone yelling 10, 9, 8,…3, 2,1 "Go". There's a surge of people across the starting line. Those that don't know much about razors take it out hard.
The first ¾ of mile have a slight hint of an uphill to it before the fun of the downhill begins. My legs are moving but I realize they are not moving nearly as fast as everyone else. Mentally, I am still set on marathon pace and my legs do not want to go any faster.
I put in all of the urging that I can muster. Slowly, my legs begin to move. We near the mile point and I pass a few of these guys. Mile 1 was in 5:31. There are still 4 people in front of me. I realize that I am probably not going to run any faster. My breathing tells me that this is the max; I am able to go.
Mile and half, I pass another one and move into 4th overall. This part of the course is slightly downhill and I pull even with the 3rd place guy. Through two miles, we go back and forth. Mile 2 was in 5:30. Turning off the parade route and heading for the finish, I start to pull ahead of him. I don't know how much and I don't look back. There is no time.
I cross Rt. 3 and hear my Garmin announce the mile split: 5:29. I start my sprint for the finish and cross the finish line gasping for breath in 17:03.
6 days removed from running a marathon, my legs were not ready for this effort. They complained but they did their best and brought me home in 3rd overall and 1s male master.
After the race, I hung out with Richard, Linda, and Steve while we waited on the awards. There is nothing like the post race story telling that goes on.
Wrapping up this post, might I suggest if you have never run the Concord Santa Scramble, put it on your race list for next year. I promise you will not be disappointed.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner