Saturday morning I was standing at the starting line of the TarHeel 10 miler for the 2nd year in row. Last year, I was coming off the Palmetto Relay. This year was coming off a stomach bug which left me laying on the couch and shivering.
I watched as the announcer raised the American flag and they play our national anthem through the Kenan Stadium sound system. Considering the events in Boston earlier this week, I held my hand across my heart; the music rang in my ears, and I thought how lucky I am to live in this great nation. Then, we held a moment of silence for those impacted by the events in Boston. The silence was deafening as each of us thought about the victims of this terrible tragedy.
The announcer gives us the final countdown, and we are sent on our way. There's only about 7 feet of running room so until we exit the stadium, I am raising my quad high to avoid stepping on the guys in front of me or getting clipped from behind.
I spot Michael Dwomoh at the start. He is coming off racing at Boston on Monday. He could be tired, but he has been known to run marathons on back to back weekends. I know he will be tough. The first mile I try to settle and not lose touch with Michael. I cover it in a little over 5:30. I know I am out too fast so I try to settle more. We circle back by the stadium and then run through it.
I just about clip this woman who is paying no attention to the speeding runners passing her.
Once out of the stadium, Michael is about 20 yards ahead of me. Over the next couple of miles, I finally close the distance. Then, we start the same cat and mouse game that Caitlin and I play a few weeks ago. He pushes hard up the hills, and then I pull back the distance on the downhill. This continues until we reach the 6 mile where I start to open a small gap.
I know Laurel Hill looms ahead. I try to open as much of a gap as possible.
We make the right turn just past the 8 mile mark and head up the hill. The change in grad is unbelievable. Suddenly my heart is racing and my quads are burning. Michael burst by me. I can do nothing. I cannot respond to his surge. I try to mitigate the loss of distance. My confidence sinks. I know cannot do it.
The hill grinds on. I cross the second Laurel Hill mat. Michael probably has 25 seconds on me now. The hill goes on for another 200 yards before it levels out, and I make the turn back toward the stadium and the finish.
My legs felt terrible climbing the hill, but as soon as I cross the top, I feel good again. Michael is looking back to see where I am. I don't know if I can catch him but at least I will make him sweat it all the way to the finish line. I tear down the hill. Michael crosses over to the other side of the cones. I follow to run the tangents. I am closing the distance. I make the right into the stadium loading dock. The distance has narrowed but I am running out of time. I enter the stadium and the distance is just too much to make up.
Michael crosses the finish line in 60:09 and I finish in 60:18. I was happy and disappointed all at the same time. I wanted to beat Michael, and I came oh so close. I ran 60:18 but wanted to break an hour. On the other hand, the previous week I had been horizontal my couch for the entire weekend. Running 60:18 was an awesome effort, and I needed to be happy with it.
Also I finished 25 overall and 2 Male Master and 2 USA T&F Master. Those are solid results, but I know I am capable of more. I just need to find that next level.
I know I was disappointed with my time but I looked back at my time two years ago here. I ran 60:48 so I was faster yesterday. I also looked at my Laurel Hill time, and I was 2 second faster climbing it. Honestly, I don't know what to think. I am 2 years older. I ran faster so why do I feel like I lost. My competitive nature just doesn't allow me to settle anything less than giving my absolute best.
Sharing one thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner