With Florence being on the distance horizon, the race crowd was seriously down for both races. I could tell the 5k was down and the 10k racers were significantly down.
Actually, I had been worried that they might postpone the race until next week. They were late sending out their usual prerace details email which only fueled the speculation that it would be either delayed or canceled.
However, the email finally came out the day of the race, and for those making the trek out to the Whitewater Center they were met with decent race day conditions. The temperature was in the mid to low 80s. The humidity was up but not significantly. Surprisingly, the trails were in decent shape given the off and on rain showers this week. I could tell they had been keeping them closed this week as the leaves and tree limbs littered the trail. At one point on the Lake Loop, I came around a corner to find a tree hanging across the trail. I yelled back “low bridge” to the runners following me.
Grabbed a few miles before the race to see how my legs felt and as they usually do, they felt heavy and lethargic. At the start the aside from Steve going out fast, our pace seemed slow. I quickly settled in behind Andrew. This was our rubber match race. He had beaten me twice, and I would beaten him twice so this was our deciding race for '18. The last thing that I wanted to do was let him get a big lead going into the trails with runners between us.
I made sure to be right behind him when we entered the single track. I followed him until we got to around the mile point. Then, I passed him. At each of the next few turns, I could tell that I had a small gap on him. Through, the quartz section, he hear foot steps behind me. I glanced back to see Andrew right on my tail. Once we topped out, I pushed again, but I wasn't getting way from him. Entering the Lake Loop, he was staying with me. Rounding the first lake, he pulled by me. Seems as if his Blue Ridge Relay race didn't leave his legs as tired as he lead me to believe. He was pushing the downhill sections hard, and I was struggling to stay with him. Then, we came to the ¼ grinder fake hill. I call this a fake hill because it looks flat but it just a long steady climb that makes my legs go numb. Apparently, Andrews legs were feeling it because I got back by him. We had less than two miles to run, and I wasn't going to give up easily. I kept throwing in little surges where ever I could. Soon, I had small gap. Out of sight, out of mind, running the trails, being just a few yards ahead of someone can put you out of sight of them which is what I wanted to do. Reaching the last section, I had a good gap on Andrew, but I fully expected him to come flying after me on the push to the finish. I exited the trail running hard and not looking back. If he caught me, there was very little that I could do about it anyway.
Rounding the channel, I caught sight of the finish clock. The time was just clicking over to 45 minutes. If I pushed a bit harder, I might get my fastest time this year. My eyes were glued to the clicking of the clock. I didn't look away until I had crossed the finish line.
I clocked a 45:24 time which is my fastest at this year. I placed 3rd overall and 1st in my age group. For age group awards, they gave out these nice WWC metal water bottles. I now have two so I guess this means that I need to run a few more races so I have complete set of them.
Kudos to the Whitewater Center Race team for putting on a great series of races this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed these Thursday night races. Very likely I will be back again next year.
The Cool Down Runner