I didn’t feel the pre-race adrenaline-anxiety sickness I normally vomit half-way up my throat. Just dread. Fearing the pain, feeling exhausted from a tough week, the horn went off with a false start and we all lurched a couple steps, stopped, were told to keep going, and took off towards the Target. The guy next to me looked fast and smooth, there was a guy in a scuba suit and another one who might be a contender. We turned a corner and headed for the Wendy’s.
What? Oh yeah, I won the Run for the Heroes 5K on Sunday in 17:18. This is my story.
First mile pace felt slow and I wondered if I should pick it up. It was slightly uphill, I was out front, and I didn’t want to look like an idiot if I jolted ahead only to be passed, wheezing and crying, later. A 180 degree turn, slowing slightly, out past the half-finished apartment frames and empty foundations to the one mile sign in 5:27. Wasn’t so slow after all (need to work on my pace judgment), which is good since I still felt strong and it was just me and the smooth-running guy (Andy) who sounded like he was barely breathing. A pace car led the way. A pace car?
I settled in behind Andy for a bit but I don’t think he liked that because he came back to me. Another 180 degree turn and I caught an unintentional elbow in the side and an apology. I stumbled a bit and said “that sucked” but I meant the sharp turn, not the elbow, and hoped he didn’t take it the wrong way.
Stride for stride we ran the second mile as I waited for him to leave me. He never did. I thought I noticed him breathing harder. We ran in silence, just breathing and footfalls and I thought I noticed I was having fun. We were racing and I was curious how it would all turn out. Still working hard, but not top-end I don’t think, as it seemed we were consciously slowing down. Then one of us would put a step ahead and the other would match it. A step slower and another match. A “tactical” race? This is kind of fun. Neither of us wanted to take out the lead.
Now, I catch a lot of flack for voicing the belief that I’m slow, but what I mean is this: I’ve never in my life run close to even a sixty-five second 400. I couldn’t break thirty seconds for 200 or fifteen for 100. I have no flat-out, top-end, closing, sprinting speed, though I’ve built up some pretty good endurance, which means that in this race, along mile two, I was thinking I’d better get a generous lead if I wanted to have a chance to win. Andy looked fast, he ran like he was fast, I’m sure he is faster than me. I didn’t want it to come down to a kick.
Mile two at 5:37. The course disappeared, the lead car went by the “Cinemark” dumpster around the back of the movie theater and I exclaimed, “What the hell?” Andy said, and he sounded very, very nice, “Just follow it around the back of the theater and loop back around.” So we did, and when we came back around I felt pretty good and he was breathing a little harder still (I’m sure I was too). At a little over half-a-mile to go I took a tentative lead. He didn’t come with me. I thought, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but what the hell?” I took a little more, then a little more, until I couldn’t really hear him behind me. Oh, what have I done?
Ralph Barrera AMERICAN-STATESMAN
I was afraid to look back. A small turn revealed I misjudged the course, and we had farther to go than I thought. Very painful now. Arms burning, shake them out. Another turn, back by the Target, the three mile sign in sight and I could hear Andy breathing behind me again. Crap. Don’t look back. 5:40 at mile three and two turns to the finish. Give it all you got and hope for the best. He should have caught me by now, is he letting me win? Scuba guy jumps out yelling “I’m gonna win!” Annoying. Announcer bellows “here comes the first finisher”, over a speed bump, pump through the finish because you never know, and holy behemoth shopping centers … I won.
I’m not sure if Andy let me win, or if he was mad that he didn’t win. He shook my hand at the finish line, ran off and didn’t stick around. Apparently he was a 14 minute 5K guy and only recently got back into running. He seemed like a really nice guy and runs beautifully.
It was a lot of fun to be in a race with someone, not knowing how it would turn out, trying to figure out what to do, when to react, when to go for it. Quite a bit of fun.
The post-race party thingy was one of the better ones I’ve attended. Scott Cary put on a well-run race.
They announced my name wrong at the award ceremony … “David YANCE!”
I thought I might have a chance at sub-17 when I saw the first mile split but I have a lot of work to do for that. I think my last .1 works out to 5:20 pace. It was slightly uphill.
The night before races I like to plug in numbers and envision paces and I thought 5:30 was a good target for this one. 5:32 was close.
Pat Legate was top ten. I was glad to see him before the race. My friend Marc was shooting for 23 minutes and ran 22:38. Good job! After I finished I ran back and “paced” him to the finish.
A photographer from the American-Statesman was there and came up and asked me my name. I used to work with both him and his wife at the Statesman but he didn’t remember me. Anyway, nice photos.
My quote in this article is pretty well invented out of thin air.
This race was less painful than recent workouts, particularly those solo, brutal 400 and 800 repeat track workouts, even though the race pace was faster than the workout paces, and of course there is no rest in a race. But what do they say? Train hard, race easy?
I’m as surprised as anyone that I’m running these times, but it’s not happening by magic.
Jessica’s birthday was yesterday (April 21). Happy Birthday from Knob.