The starting line is crowded with fast runners, and butterflies are circling in my tummy. After all, this is only my third 5k of the year. How I will do is any ones guess.
They give us the 2 minute warning. I look over to see Aaron and Paul. It might be just me thinking this but is everyone turning into a masters runners these days.
During my strides, Cory came up beside me. Yet, another good masters’ runner is toeing the line.
30 seconds to go.
By the way, Cory, welcome to our TrySports Ambassador team. For a long time, I was the only masters’ runner on our TrySports Ambassador running team. Now with Paul and you, our numbers are growing.
10, 9, 8, 7, 6, ….
I take a couple of deep full breathes.
My fingers slides over my Garmin to the start button
One last deep breathe.
Everyone surges off the line. Even thou, this race has an uphill start, many runners go out like it is a downhill 100 yard sprint.
So many runners are around me that I am pushed right up to the curb.
Cory is running right beside me.
I am just trying to not run over someone.
Right out the parking lot, and suddenly my vision picks up a backwards ball cap and a familiar running stride. Where did Donny come from? No sign of him while I was warming up. It was as if he materialized out of thin air.
Left into the neighbor, I cut across the side to avoid running into anyone.
Cory surges ahead and passes Donny.
My legs feel like they are struck in concrete.
Cory is definitely feeling good. I catch Donny know. Cory is perhaps 15 to 20 yards ahead of us.
Mentally, I want to go after him. Yet, my legs and heart are sending off warning signals. Don’t do it.
We are back out on the main road and pass the mile. My Garmin chimes and vibrates that I have run a mile, but I ignore looking at it.
There are still two miles to run. No point in knowing if the mile is as slow as it feels.
Cory continues to look strong.
My breathing feels like it is all over the place so I am trying to get a handle on it.
We are topping the final climb and someone just barely clips one of my running shoes. Lowering my hand as if flashing a slowing sign and taking a quick peek back, I want to know who is riding my coat tails.
I see Donny and the first one woman. Donny tells me later that she keep cutting back and forth between him and me.
Right in to the next neighborhood, she surges in front of me. But she doesn’t try to capitalize on it, and I surge back by.
While this is going on, Cory suddenly seem a lot closer. Climbing the next little hill the gap between us narrows.
The next ½ mile to the 2 point is downhill. My breathing is finally starting to stabilize.
I surge up to Cory. Do I pass or set behind him? Pass.
Passing another runner during a race can often time wake them up. Then, they start to run harder.
I surge by him. Not 30 yards later, he surges back by me. Darn it. I have poked the “bear” and now he is “mad”.
My Garmin chimes to remind me that we have passed 2 miles.
Right on Rea Rd, I am charging hard to stay with Cory.
This time there is no thought of riding behind him. I surge by him.
There is a slight rise on Rea Rd; then there is a slight downhill until we reach the Target parking lot. Pretty much the rest of the course is flat.
Donny, Cory, and probably the lead woman are right behind me. No point in looking, sometime I can just feel it.
I need someone new to chase i.e. Alejandro. He is about 20 yards or so in front of me. I am trying to close the gap without pushing too far into my red zone.
Right in the parking lot, the gaps is closing.
Left around target, my legs are feeling shaky. My thoughts focus on the fact that I have may 90 seconds of hard running left. Nothing else is important.
Perhaps, my most hated part of this course is the horse shoe finish. After all of this running, we get sent around the block.
At the first corner, I sneak a peek. I see the lead woman and Donny. I don’t see Cory.
At the next and last corner, I sneak one last peek to solidify what I had seen previously.
For the first time, I take a quick glance at my Garmin 16:25 or something like it.
The only thought now is to surge, push, and sprint. Do whatever it will take. Forget about being caught from behind.
Ignoring everything else, I will my body forward.
50 yards, 40 yards, 30 yards,
I hear the people cheering.
I cannot feel my legs
My heart feels like it is going to burst out of my chest.
I can do it.
I am almost there.
My hand almost instinctively moves to stop my Garmin as I step on the finish line.
Immediately, I rolled my wrist over so I can see my time.
16:54 is displayed. Yes!!!
I had no expectations of running a sub 17 minute 5k, but somehow I did.
I finished as the forth masters’ runner behind Paul, Aaron, and Curtis and won the 45-49 age group. Overall, I was 15th.
By far, this years’ race had the most depth of any Big South 5k. Each year, they are getting larger and larger as well as better and better.
Just goes to show what happens when you have good people organizing a race.
Sharing thought at time,
The Cool Down Runner