Saturday. Well yesterday I got up early to meet Jay for our Friday run. We had talked about this run on Thursday while having beers with our buds, Jay and I agreed to meet at 5:45. As we both knew we were running on Saturday, but did not want to let others know we had decided to run. Jay thought the conversation was just a front. So there I stood Friday morning at 5:30 waiting. Jay did not show. Funny.
This morning was different. Jay called at 6:10… where are you. On the way. With Jack in the car, we arrived at the race site. A local 5k/10K… a few hundred people. I have had a bad cold that started Monday and I am just now as I am typing this feeling better.
Connecting with Jay, I said I would likely pace him for two miles and fade back and run with Jack. This was to be Jack’s 2nd 5K. Warm up rituals done, I felt my breathing was restricted from the congestion. Standing at the starting line, I looked around there were horses on the course, a good number of strong runners. Starting near the front, there was the typical burst of speed. Jay looked like he was gliding. A very confident runner with strong legs and conditioning. As we neared the first half mile, I shared that we were going out too fast… there was no response from Jay and I did not want to affect his race, so I tried to keep myself quiet. As we neared the first mile, I could see the lead runner, a young high school runner, he was hitting the mile marker. I looked at my watch, 4:25, WOW! I said Jay we are too close to the front and need to slow down. However, we were hitting a downhill and the pace stayed as we crossed the first mile at 6:18. Too fast.
The next mile started with an uphill, though gradual, it was a consistent grade that lead to a brief flat and a sharp downhill. I took advantage of the downhill to lengthen my stride, I leaned forward and let gravity takeover while I took a bit of a breather. It was short lived but allowed me to catch a couple of runners. Next came a sharp uphill, I kept my pace and picked off another runner. I knew at this time the race was half over, though I did not want to look at my watch, that fact did give me a boost of energy that I carried to the 2 mile mark. I heard them yell out 12:45, too fast again, but this time on pace, with a little less than a 6:30 mile. I took an assessment of how I felt. Breathing. Not good, very restricted. Legs, tired… yep just as it should be, after all I’m running hard. Laughing to myself, the entertainment is interrupted. I hear bikers Chris and Brian who just happened to be out for a 50 mile bike ride. They call out Jay and my name. Go figure. SO much for a secret race! Secret blown and now two friends cheering us on, I decided that stopping was not an option besides; nothing fuels you more than being cheered on by those you know. I put my head down, grit my teeth and ran on.
Hitting Main Street Alpharetta, I knew I had a good long downhill followed by a tough uphill. Time to catch some more people. I set my sights on the next target and was able to pass several on the downhill and two on the uphill. Cresting the hill and now getting ready to press the pace, I saw one more person ahead, I thought they may be too far ahead and nearly decide to settle as they were considerably younger, yeah right. I looked at my watch it read 17:23, I figured 2-3 minutes more, go hard. I picked it up. The distance was closing but so was his lead. I broke into a hard sprint and narrowed the gap to 10-15 yards. My legs were now moving independent of my body as I sprinted past the other runner with 100 yards to go… turning the corner I saw the finish line… 19:50 is my PR. The clock read 19:43… I knew I could not break it, but I did not want it to be 19:51… :47, :48, 49….:50 crossed… Done! 19:50. Not bad.
Grabbing my card I felt that I might have perhaps won my age group… I was 7th over all so… perhaps. Dropping my card in the box, it was 2nd in the age group. The winner was 18:50 (yikes) the masters winner was 18:28 (double yikes).
Jay came in right behind me and we swept the bottom of the podium for 2nd and 3rd place. It was a good run. Congratulating Jay, I went back and watched as Jack came in strong. He finished in 27:14, that is 30 seconds faster than his last race. We thought for sure he would have some hardware but was just off the podium with a 4th place. It is a tough age group 10 - 14 for Jack who is 12, but he did really well.
Later I took the boys to see Ironman. But not before a call from Corey asking about the secret run. Good friends and a good laugh.