Monday, October 28, 2013

Overseas Chinese Athletics and Arts Federation 5k (OCCAAF)

I was nearing the 3 mile mark and topping a hill after a long climb. My fingers felt like they were frozen. Yet, the moment the rays of the early morning sun hit my hands, and they instantly felt better. I find it hard to believe that I just a few short weeks ago was yearning for colder temperatures.

Yes, colder temperatures, but no this cold. No October in recent member has had temperatures dipping into the low 30s.  

This morning I was in Stallings, NC running the OCCAAF 5k race. A while back Warren Zhong, the race director, contacted me about helping with his race. Later, he asked if I would hand out their post race awards which I readily agreed.

This is why I was Stallings, NC on a cold Saturday morning in October.

The course runs polar opposite of the Big South 5k. A gradual downhill or flat for the mile and half. Then, the course climbs back to the start at the Asian Market off Potter Rd.

Warren and his team plus the staff from Start 2 Finish did a really good job with this race. The course was well marked – each mile was marked. There were cones along the entire course with signs pointing to each turn.

The 10k racers headed off just after 7:30 AM. They would be making two loops of the 5k course. The 5k started 30 minutes later. We came to together for the start, and I did not know anyone.  I guess with so many races around Charlotte on this Saturday, I should have expected a smaller crowd but I would least expect to see someone that I knew.

Warren gives out some last minute encouragement and then the countdown. Finally, we are off. My fingers are already numb.

The road is not closed so I am careful to stay away from the traffic which seems to be pretty busy for this time of the morning.

I take a quick peek on a turn just the mile mark and do not see a soul behind me. I take a deep breath and focus on maintaining my pace.

Two miles passes. I am now running up this nice long hill. I make the right and I am back on a major road. The lead vehicle struggles to merge so I am on my own for short distance.

This is worse because I am running with the traffic rather than facing it. This always makes me a little nervous because people will tend to ride right behind me waiting for a good moment to pass.

My Garmin flashes up the 3 mile split. I see this guy running ahead of me. Looking into the sun, I am having trouble seeing.

As I get closer, I recognize the runner as Greg Shore.

Instantly, I want to catch him before the finish. Greg hears me coming. I am sure he was wondering if I was in the 10k or 5k. Luck was on his side today.  He surges, and I trail along right behind him all the way to the finish.

I finish and walk around for about 3 minutes. My breathing returns to normal and I feel like I can do it again.

 I headed off and run my three times one minutes. Then, I change my number and head over to the start so I can run the 1k race.

The start is a little messy. There are a lot of kids and adults in this race. We get this blurred start. I slowly build up my speed but Warren goes flying by me. I start chasing him and then encouraging him when I pass. I pass the lead guy just past the 1k turnaround.

The 1k was not as fast as I wanted, but I still enjoyed racing it.

Later at the awards, I handed out the medals to the 1k, 5k, and 10k award winners.

This was a first time event. Growing a race is a slow process. Warren and his crew plus S2F should be commended for their efforts. This race went from an idea in late August to reality on October 26th. This is nothing short of miraculous.

Warren was already talking about next year’s the race – possibly in September.

By the way, if you are in Stallings, NC, please check out the Asian Market just off Potter Rd. I took the tour. There is stuff in there that just is not in your normal Harris Teeter, Food Lion, or Walmart. The store is definitely worth the visit.


 Sharing one thought at a time,

The Cool Down Runner



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