Bagelfest 5K. Friday I emailed Andre, “I fear the pain of running fast.” Those damn Fila Relays scarred me. No More Races, I said.
Saturday morning I jogged the course with Pat and Andre. It was cold and windy. Andre kept saying, “this is the last hill …. the final incline is right up there….” Afterwards I was tempted to run some more, and later, to go for a bike/swim workout, but I resisted the urges (wisely I’m sure).
Race morning, I got there a tad early, and spent about 15 minutes jumping up and down in the cold. I saw Chris from Gazelles and thought he might win it. I saw Jesse Devlyn and thought I might run with him. I saw Roger and thought I wanted to beat him. Talked to some other Gazelles.
Pat had found a generic pre-race warm-up routine on the intrawebs, and we followed it together. We ran a bit of the course backwards, then did drills, a bit of stretching, and strides, finishing about 5 minutes before race time. I felt like it worked really well, though a tad on the “too much” side. Normally I do very little warm-up, but normally I start slow.
I pushed my way up near the front and stood among a gaggle of Gazelles. Some guy in front of me told his wife, “remember, don’t go out too fast.” Ugh. Bob and Betty Jogger at the front of the start.
We started. Roger, why did you stick an elbow in my side? I expected to be in a pack of people who shouldn’t have been at the front and behind a pack of real runners. Ten seconds in and there were about 8 people in front of me. Twenty seconds into it and I was basically running alone, in sixth place. The leader, Gazelle Chris was about 20 yards ahead, with the other four spaced out evenly.
I was wary of that first uphill mile, conscious of not going out too fast. And it didn’t feel like I was going too fast or expending too much effort, but I knew I was running pretty well because the leaders weren’t gaining that much ground on me. I thought they would gap me, or someone would race past me from behind, but I was holding on. Monitoring my state, I felt physically strong, and mentally confident, which is rare.
I think it was good that I saw Chris in front, because I had run with him a couple of times in workouts and on long runs and knew that I couldn’t keep up, but also knew he wasn’t super dramatically faster, so I was willing to just let him go and see what happened. After Chris I saw an older guy, a bigger guy, a normal guy, and some kid. Cool. I’d never been near the front before. I figured the older guy would end up winning (he finished third). He looked fit, experienced, been-there-done-that. The big guy surprised me (he won). Frankly, he looked huge for a runner (for anyone really). The kid I dismissed (sixth). Weird that I was thinking about the other runners like that. But it was interesting to have that vantage point.
Coming up the hill and around the corner on to Mesa I saw Jessica and the boys. I was laboring pretty good and it was rejuvenating to see them. I could tell Jessica was excited to see me near the leaders and could see her counting the runners in front of me. I was still in sixth place. Mile 1 came, 5:56. Wow, faster than I expected, but I didn’t feel terrible. RunTex said the first mile might have been short though.
Another turn on to Burney and I started struggling a bit. There were a couple of “spectators” out (i.e. people getting the morning paper), but it seemed like a long trudge up that street. I could tell I was slowing. The leaders were probably 200 meters ahead. I was surprised no one had passed me. Another turn on to West Rim. It didn’t matter, but we ran by a water-less, volunteer-less water stop. Mile 2 at 6:08. Yikes, that was bad, I guess the first mile took more out of me than I thought. Oddly though, I wasn’t in too much pain. What bothered me most were my forearms. I guess I was tense or something, because I could feel the fatigue, near cramps, in the muscles and tried to relax.
I’m pretty good at catching myself when I start to slow or to mentally give in. I kept doing that. I kept pushing myself when it kept hurting.
Jesse Devlyn passed me. I had heard him for the last quarter-mile behind me and it was probably good that he passed me because it forced me to pick up the pace. I entertained thoughts of running with him, but I couldn’t. He was better. He didn’t leave me in the dust or anything, and probably pulled me along until we turned on to Far West. He ended up passing the 16 year old kid too.
I could still see the leaders, maybe 350 meters ahead. They were following the lead police car and were running down the middle of the traffic lane, even though cones were set out to the side. I stayed in the cones. Finally, the promised downhill. I’d been looking forward to this half-mile stretch for two days. I felt good. Not really much pain, or not as much as I had feared. Maybe I managed it better. Maybe I wasn’t pushing hard enough. Maybe I mis-remember the pain. Maybe I compare everything to the Fila Relays (or Congress Mile) and anything else is relative cake. Maybe I was just buoyed by being in seventh place.
A turn off Far West and mile 3. I punched my watch but was too tired to glance. Turns out it was 5:46. I saw Jessica and the boys again, and I thought I could read Jessica’s thoughts: “he was sixth and now he’s seventh.” But no one else was going to pass me. I ran pretty hard to the finish, maybe not my hardest, I’m not very fast.
18:25. Humped over, but not dead pain. Happy. Real happy. Certainly better than I ever expected. Maybe the fear is gone.
Directly afterwards I met Pat and Andre down at the Trail for an extra 4 miles. I think Andre ran that faster than the 5K. I was hurting. And famished. The race took more of a toll than I thought. Maybe it was too much.
Jessica said later that day, “everyone else looked like they were running as fast as they could, but you didn’t look like that.” She meant it as a compliment (smooth stride, good form, easy running, etc.), but maybe I was holding back.
Monday morning I ran the Cap10K course with some of the crew. I was not as sore as Sunday, and I didn’t want to go fast at all, but they picked it up, I tried to hold back, but still probably went too hard. Duane said, “I called Rudy and told him he should be embarrassed.” I said, “thanks a lot.”
Thanks for reading.