Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dog Has Day


I seem to have rules for nearly everything, and even though I can count on one hand the overall victories I've been fortunate enough to snatch between running and road cycling, I have nonetheless come up with one rule for when the dice land my way:

Never apologize for a win.

Yes, you could fill a small boat with local runners who could normally clean my clock at the 5K distance I raced this morning, but at the end of the day you have to train, you have to show up, and you have to perform in order to win the goodie bag filled with free oil changes, video rentals and bookstore giftcards. For some reason they included a large magnet in the same bag, which probably erased whatever amounts were on said giftcards. Oh well, it's the thought that counts. By apologizing I mean saying "I didn't run very fast" or "none of the fast guys showed up", which is a slap in the face to all the others in the race who also trained, showed up, performed and would have loved to have beaten you. That being said, today belonged to the 35 year old with crows feet and greying hair, with his wonderful wife cheering at the finish line and snapping photos, perched behind a jogging stroller weighed down with their smiling daughter and son. Today was my day and I enjoyed every second of it.

I ended up clocking 16:43 on a half dirt, half road, out and back course with miles of 5:17, 5:32 and 5:32. After running the course early with Lucas (who didn't race) I laced up the racing shoes and headed to the line. The plan was to keep the leaders close and to take any opportunity that presented itself, so when the gun sounded I was a bit dumbfounded to find no one to key off. I knew I didn't get out of the gate at supersonic speed, so I took the absence of any runners taking control early as the opportunity I was waiting for. Who would have thought it would present itself during the first 200 meters?

As I pushed downhill with the wind at my back I approached Randy (friend and President of my club), who was spectating while pushing his newborn in a stroller. "You're first, Dave (friend and fellow Dragon) is second, and Paula is third. You'd better win this." At this point we hopped off the road and onto a dirt path along the Rillito River. The path just received a dumping of dirt and decomposed granite, so the Asics were sinking with every step. At the mile I heard the split called at 5:15 or so and hit the watch a second or two later. The marker was right after a sharp turn that led to a bridge crossing. I had enough of an angle to see my chasers here without turning my head and looking obvious, and it seemd I had a good gap of at least 10-15 seconds. A quick turn and it was back into the wind, down and up an underpass, then a quick skid around the turnaround cones on the loose gravel. I was now facing the rest of the race.

With half of the run over I was still feeling in control, and much like I did during my last 5K time trial a few weeks ago. I could see a different runner, who looked young and fit (high-school young) coming towards me ahead of the other chasers. Obviously he had passed both of the runners I had seen at the one mile mark, and he had done so over the course of less than half a mile. The guy was catching up.

I hate to say it, but the feelings of cool confidence I imagined I'd have while leading the pack were nowhere to be found. Clouds of doubt rolled in here, and I remember thinking "What if this guy passes me?" Soon enough these thoughts were interrupted by various shouts of encouragement from the other runners heading towards me. "Way to go" from one guy, "You're flying!" from the next. At first I responded with a thumbs up, but otherwise continued with my thousand-mile-stare, but soon enough I was making eye contact, smiling and nodding along with giving them the magic thumb. If you can't enjoy the suffering, at least a little bit, why do it? A click of the watch marked mile number two, and careful listening revealed that the shouts for the number two runner were now getting further and further back. It was time to stop thinking about how not to lose, and time to start thinking about how to win. Push forward hard off the balls of the feet, snap the leg up behind, fix the goofy "jimmy hand". Off the trail and back on the road, pushing uphill and into a cross-wind. Randy again, this time shouting "Just 80 more seconds, then you're done". No mention of number two. If he was close Randy would let me know. Smiling now, clicking the watch on mile three and pumping the fist once for the race photographer there. You're damn right I'm going to pump my fist, I want to make it obvious just how much I'm enjoying this. Closing in on the line (where Kiera took the shot above), a few more fist pumps and a big, gap-toothed smile. The wife and kids see it all and I'm grateful. You never know when you've won your last race, and having them all here for this ensures they all get to see me do this once.

Results are posted here

Running: 10 miles on the day with warm up and cool down. Got to push Haiden and Finn for the latter.

25 comments:

runmad said...

Great race... better commentary.

Congratulations!

Thomas said...

Fantastic effort, and a very courageous race, leading from the start. You're of course right, why should you apologise? You were the fastest man in the field, and thoroughly deserved the win.

Enjoy the free oil change, and don't let the kids play with the magnet.

Congratulations, champ!

duncan von larkin said...

This is a well deserved note of congrats, Mike. You worked hard for this. There's so much to having the confidence to take the lead from the beginning. Fortune tends to favor the bold front runners. A win is a win--enjoy the gimcrack. Awesome,man.

Dallen said...

Congratulations! Very impressive for what seems to have been a 5K time trial. I assume that a runner on your shoulder would have pushed you even faster. Things are looking good for you.

angie's pink fuzzy said...

WOO HOO!!! Way to go Mike!!!!!

Eric said...

Nice race, Mike. Great report as well.

Don't worry about the magnet nuking the gift cards. Mythbusters did a segment on that and proved it takes a HUGE electromagnet to do any damage.

Blaxabbath said...

I suggest you take it a step further and never apologize FOR ANYTHING. You're the Lighthouse YMCA 5k champion now -- time to start being a dick to everyone, all the time.

Mark said...

Nice photo! those look just like my racing shoes, fast

Congratulations on your win.

Lawrence said...

I enjoyed your race report.

You've earned it.

I love the fact you were pumping your fist....I'd love to be able to do that!

Congrats!

robtherunner said...

Nice job Mike!

Audrey said...

I headed over here from Dallen's blog. I LOVED your race report and I love what a great day you had. Congratulations on the win. From the pic it looks like you had quite a lead. Rock on.

tjones said...

Congrats on the win. Your blog is such a joy to read, and I am glad to you've taken such joy in the win!

brian said...

Congrats, Mike. A win is a win, no matter who shows up.

Martin said...

well done on the win!

John W said...

Sweet.

Andrew said...

Mike, I know exactly how you feel. Great job taking the race. This was an awesome post.

At some point, one has to realize that they're the best in the field. And when that happens, it's time to flip the switch and smoke 'em!

Thomas Sørensen said...

Hi Mike

Big congratulations on your win!
I'm glad to see that the family was there to enjoy it with you, that makes it even better.
Enjoy it to the fullest.
Thomas in Qatar

Abadabajev said...

Looks like you got on the bus and you threw the bus driver and all passengers out.

Well done sir.

You should seriously consider the Fargo marathon and jump on Eric's bus.

You're a high miler, I don't think 3 marathons in the span of 12 months is too much. Who says you have to peak for Fargo? Peak for Chicago if you wish.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm Steve. It's cool to know that you actually thought I was gaining on you. With my splits at 5:30, 5:39, 5:30, you were opening it up with every step. I wish I could have given you a slight run for your money, but my legs weren't all there after the mile repeats I did saturday.

Homeslice said...

Congrats on the win!
Great race report and nice picture as well. You look like you're really enjoying it!

rumon said...

Mike:

First time to your blog and what a great post for an intro! Had an absolute shitter of a training day myself today, so reading your report with a growing smile curling up to my own (growing) crows feet was a pleasure.

Relish the V!

Rumon (who's likely won many fewer races than you)

ian said...

Great run!

Mike said...

Thanks again for all the kind comments. Steve, you ran a great race. If you email me at salkowskim@yahoo.com I'll send you some photos my wife took of you running to the finish (she snapped shots of the top 10 or so). I hope you come out to Dave's Run on Sunday. Skip the Saturday mile repeats and make Sunday's race the workout, maybe we can both go low 16.

Love2Run said...

Great race and a fun post. I really enjoyed the way you just went out hard and things went your way. You deserve it with all that hard work and early mornings.

Sasha Pachev said...

Good work. A win is a win. I think even if you have the world record, at any given time you can always find a race where you get beat. Yes, somebody did not show up, but all that means it was not their day to win, it was yours.
When I read "Paula in third", I began to wonder if it was Paula Morrison. Sure enough it was. She used to live in Utah and run lots of local races.