Megan, Paul M., and I knocked out our warm up run over the course, and then we went our separate ways to finish final preparations.
Paul and Chad were coming off racing the Fire Cracker 5k in south Charlotte the night before. Actually, this was Chad’s 3rd race, I believe, in 5 days. He also ran the Championship 5k on Tuesday night at our summer track meet in 15:57. I knew these guys were going to head out pretty hard.
Gathering on the starting line, the butterflies should have been turning over in my tummy while we awaited the final countdown. But other than the constant doubt if this was really a good idea, I just tried to ready myself for the task ahead.
Having run this course a few times, I know about the fast first mile, the uphill next mile and half, and the fast downhill finish at the end.
The horn sounded, and we bolted from the starting line. Andy, one of the Gaston County Runners, was a few steps ahead of me as we all charged down the hill. In the back of my brain, there was too much thought going to my hamstring. I could feel it twitch from running faster than I had run in months. Then, we settled on the ½ mile flat section that runs to the first mile marl. Paul N. (different Paul) passed me and I focused on staying right behind him.
Thoughts of my hamstring slowly faded away when we hit the long climb on the course. Paul and I picked off a couple of guys. Turning left on 115, Paul opened a gap on me. My legs just wouldn’t respond with any more speed.
We finally made the right to head downhill and back to HFFA. It was going to be close. There was a clock at the 3 mile which told me just one thing. Sprint if you want that sub 18 minute 5k.
I stepped on the line at 17:54 so I am pretty happy with my race. I had fully expected to run 18:30 or slower. With no ill effects coming from my hamstring, I couldn’t have been happier.
I actually finished 6th overall and won my age group.
Major “kudos” go to Jones Timing Company. Not only were the results available and awards given out before 9:15. They started them 30 minutes early – actually before we finished warming down.
We also learned that HFFA is retiring the Fire Cracker 5k and starting the Red, White, and Blue run next year. Excited to see what they do with it.
Based on how this race went, there is a good possibility that I will race again this month. I need something else to blow out a little more dust before I head into “Beat the Heat” 5k the last of this month.
Feeling better about racing,
The Cool Down Runner