In the post-finish-line chute the fellow in front of me ducks under the side rope, crosses the path to a small tree, and throws up. The rest of us watch, pant, and wait for him to return. We've just finished a 5k MCRRC race in a time almost a minute faster than I've ever done the distance before. I credit good training with wonderful friends plus a bit of weight loss and not-too-bad pacing during the event.
When I arrive at the starting line area Emaad and Saira Burki greet me and tell me that Caren Jew is already here. I jog down the Capital Crescent Trail a quarter mile seeking her and warming up, chat briefly with Betty Smith, and return as Emaad joins me. The kid's run starts and I spy Wayne Carson. We chat, then Caren materializes, dressed all in black and ready to race. Ken Swab is here too, and CM Manlandro. Mical and Paul Honigfort show off their cute baby Erik, and Mical and I discuss our hopes for the run. We're cagey; neither of us will commit to anything more specific than "23ish".
My pumpkin-orange "12:00+" pacer singlet gives merriment to many who notice it. At the gun CM and I start off together, chatting and weaving through the dense crowd on the narrow bikepath. I wave my arms about to maintain a little personal space. After a minute the crush thins. "Let's run!" I tell CM and dart ahead, not looking back, figuring she's on my heels. Soon I catch Wayne who tells me that we're doing about a 7 min/mi pace. "Too fast!" I warn, but keep pushing onward. The course is slightly downhill from here to the turnaround, which obviously implies a gently uphill finish.
Mile One is 6:56, an unsustainable pace. Two young ladies swerve daintily to avoid a shallow mud puddle at the base of the River Rd bridge. I fearlessly run across it thanks to Caren's careful coaching, push hard climbing the bridge's arch, and try not to slow on the way down. The leaders are now coming back from the turnaround ahead. I shout "Good run!" at them, and soon it's time for me to round the midcourse cone and begin the return trip. Wayne is a handful of seconds behind, followed by CM and the rest of the gang.
The Mile Two marker eludes my observation but I feel I'm slowing. My average pace for miles 2 and 3 together is 7:17 and I arrive at Mile Three at the 21:30 point. Then it's dash to the finish in 45 more seconds for a total time of 22:15, a PR for me by 59 seconds. Whew!
^z - 2009-06-16