Saturday, October 13, 2012

They Tricked Me!!

What a rotten trick!

It was race day. I woke up earlier than planned, there was still no daylight coming in through the window, I rolled over, felt around to find my phone and flipped it open to provide a little light to see. I slid out from under the covers leaving my wife to sleep a little longer while I started a pot of steel cut oats with apples and cinnamon, and more importantly, a pot of coffee.

I put on my shorts, wiggled my toes into my Vibram Fivefingers running shoes, and slid into my bright yellow/green technical fabric running shirt, a color I thought had disappeared along with "Frankie Goes To Hollywood" before I started running nearly two years ago. Since it was a cold damp morning I added another layer to wear until race time, running pants and a rain jacket. My wife and daughter got up and got ready as well.

It was my day to run the 5K race at the 10K Classic in Bowling Green KY for the second time. This was my PR race last year, and I was running again with hopes not only to PR again, but to come in under 20:00 for the first time. My wife was running the 10K with hopes of running it at about a 10 minute per mile pace for a 62 minute finish time. My little girl was running the Children's Classic, at age four this would be her fourth race, but her first one that she got to wear a bib. We loaded up the car and headed into town singing along to "Little Liza Jane".

We arrived at the race, relaxed in the car for a bit, then headed to the starting line. I ran a short warmup, then got in line ready to run my heart out. The starting siren wailed, I ran. Down the street around the corner up the mile long first hill. I finished mile one only 9 seconds behind pace for a twenty minute 5K. Remembering the course from last year, I knew that mile one was the toughest mile of the course with a flat second mile and a third mile that had one short uphill and the race finishing with about a quarter mile down hill sprint to the finish line.

The 5K and 10K cover the same roads for the last mile or mile and a half so when I saw the mark on the road that said "5 miles" I "knew" I only had one mile to go.

What a rotten trick.

I turned left for that last little uphill, a young man, perhaps 9 or 10 years old passed me, I don't like being passed at the end of a race, but I knew that downhill sprint was coming and was confident I could catch him. I turned right for that quarter mile, downhill, all out, everything left in the tank sprint, and I gunned it, I passed the young man who had passed me, I charged toward the. . . finish line?

"Where is the finish line?" I thought. "There are some areas fenced off for construction, that is probably blocking my view." Onward I charged. "Where is the finish line? It's not here, they must have changed the course, it's probably just around that curve at the end of the road."

I blasted forward. Still no finish line. "Maybe we run all the way back to the start line," I thought as the young man passed me again. I was slowing down. The people off in the distance ahead of me were turning away from the start line.

"It must be around the corner there."
A little slower now as I was exhausted from my premature sprint.
"Just around the curve?"
"Up this hill?!?!"
"Where is the finish line!?!?!?!"
"Aaah, the Western Kentucky stadium entrance! We go in there, and charge onto the field."
I shifted gears again and charged through the entryway and saw that we had to go all the way down the football field, circle around, and back up the middle of the field. 170 yards never seemed so long. My gears were grinding to a halt.

I crossed the line one person grabbed the tag from my bib, a second handed me a water, a third looked at my face and asked, "Are you okay?" The look on his face told me the look on my face was far from looking OK.

I nodded that I was OK.

I finished in 21:11, 11th place overall, 2nd in my age group. I'd like to thank the really fast guys for running the 10K instead of the 5K.

(Moral of the story, make sure you look at the course map, even if it is a course you think you know. Also, make sure the mile markers aren't from last years course.)

My wife finished in 57:12. Five minutes faster than her goal. My daughter sprinted across the finish line with a smile on her face.

So I didn't reach my goal, I blame it on the early sprint, my wife exceeded hers, my whole family had a blast. They really make this race more than just a race, it is a celebration of fitness.

Today's race was a trick and a treat.