This race is the road race that is closest to my house, so it’s almost a no-brainer to do it. Plus, the sponsorship is good which means great swag in the race bag. For example, this year a chiropractor gave hot/cold packs in the race bags, there were pens and pencils and some sticky pads. It was good stuff.
I was going to volunteer for this race, but they didn’t actually need me… more on that later. Last Year, I didn’t run the race, but volunteered but this year, I wanted to get another 5k under my belt, so I opted to run and do a volunteer stint pre-race.
Due to unforeseen kid problems, I did not leave when I wanted to, which meant that I did not warm-up like I wanted to because I had to be there to set up early. So, I spent the first little while trying to get my race number and stuff and then find the race coordinator. When I finally found Ed, he told me that he had plenty of people and that he’d email me another time when he needed some help… good enough for me.
There was a forecast for some wet weather in the area. We had gotten a few spotty showers here and there, but I was debating on whether to bring my iRiver to record material for Phedippidations and for my own podcast. I knew that I could record the stuff for Phedippidations (higher priority, time sensitive) in the car or back home… I had a plan for that recording. The material from my own podcast would be of the race itself… like I did for the Scholar’s Run.
I ended up opting to wear the MP3 player. So mic’ed up, I started walking to the start line while recording the my submission. Due to road noise, I have a ton of stuff to edit, so hopefully it won’t take me too long.
At the start line, we had a 15 second downpout before it let up. Not sure if the wet weather really was going to help but it was nice to not have any heat. My goal for this race was to break my personal course record of 25:38, something that should be pretty easy for me to do with my current training.
So the mayor, Eddy Ford, sounded the gun and we were off. Most of this race is covered in hills, perhaps, the last 3/4 mile or so is as about as flat as you can get around here. So for the first 1/4 mile, it was a nice steady uphill. I found a pace that worked, and fellow runner Darrell can appreciate this as the person I was pacing behind, was indeed a woman. (I found out that she won an award for fastest Womens Master runner -over 40- I think).
“6:59” is what the split timer said as I passed and I could not believe it. I was running on a 5k PR pace and it didn’t feel like it. Sure I was pushing it, but I didn’t feel in pain, so I wondered how many more hills there would be and would I have enough to capture that elusive 5k PR…
I can’t remember thinking anything specific while I was running. Sometimes the mind wanders and gets distracted. Typically, I think of a song and that helps me get through the miles. I lost my pacer at the water stop, but knew that if I could keep this pace, even I hit the wall at the end I would probably be sub 23-23:15 and that would be a good day.
I think that the 2 mile split was off as my second mile was a 7:50 and I knew that I hadn’t slowed down all that much. For some reason, I didn’t care. I just kept running. At one point, as we were running through a residential neighborhood, this kid hits the curb and almost does a face plant. Thank goodness for youthfulness and agility as he was able to regain his balance in one quasi-ballet move and didn’t break pace.
Had that kid fallen, I would of had to hurdle him or else mow him over. In the last 0.75 mile I paced behind this guy and his son, who was having a hard time keeping up. They were traveling at my pace and it was nice to have them there in front of me.
The last part of the race is on a greenway section within the park and so there is quite a number of turns. Because of the rain and mud, I was not taking the turns as sharp and as fast as I wanted so it was slowing me down a little. It was also slowing that kid down too, but not his dad, who was as I was thinking in my age group because it was a 30-39 breakdown.
With 1/2 mile to go, I pass the kid with the dad just 10-15 strides ahead of me and I didn’t think that I would have any juice at the end for a sprint finish. The dad started to pull away from me in the last 0.1 of a mile and I just concentrated on the finish line. As I rounded the corner, about ready to collapse, I looked at the finish clock, it was reading 21:59, 22:00, 22:01 – WTF! No Way… so I gunned it with everything I had… I stopped my watch looking at the time and thinking… I need to stay for the awards, I have a shot at an age award!
It took me a while before I was able to catch my breath… I was very thankful for the guy who handed me the water. I needed air and water!
When I calmed down, I went over to the last turn of the course (maybe last 10-20 meters) to cheer the runners. After a while, I was starting to get pretty hungry and there was good stuff in the race tent. As we were waiting for the awards, there were a couple of spotty downpours. Little did we’d know that all-day Saturday it would rain and that this was the first of 6″ in the Farragut area.
I didn’t win squat in the doorprizes… the only thing that would have been worthwhile was a free session with the professional organizer. That’d be useful. So, onto the awards.
“In the 30-39 Male Category,” the annoucer began.
“Oh, that’s me,” I thought nervously. Relatively, I don’t run fast enough to consistently win age group awards. Typically, my very best and fastest time is enough for 4th and 5th, especially at the larger more popular events that attract athletes with more natural ability than myself. However, at smaller races, my very best races at these venues can win me age group awards (Run for the Deaf 2005) or not (most other races). But the odds were better at smaller races.
“In a time of,” the announce spewed out rapidly to get through these scores and get to drier areas, “22:08, Terry Higgins”
“SAH-WEET-TAH” I thought, as I walked up to ceremoniously get the medal put around my neck. I didn’t get have any hot half-naked chicks give me kisses for my meager 3rd place finish, but I didn’t care. I had hardware and officially my 3rd fast PR time (of all time).
My official time was the 22:08, the fastest 5k time I have run since I tied my current 5k PR time of 21:56 in November of 2002. Yes, almost 4 years since I ran at that speed! I finished 24th out of 160 finishers, which is my first time that I finished in the top 25 of a race with more than 100 runners. I was 3rd out of 16 in the 30-39 age group.
It was a successfull morning but not without its price. I managed to get a blister on the side heel of my right foot. Oh well… the price you pay for a passion.