Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Same, but Better

The big news is that my friend and training buddy Lucas finally had his day with a big win at the Catalina State Park 5 mile trail run on Saturday. My wife Kiera also completed the race in style, and I couldn't be happier for both of them. Results are here.

As for me, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about 24 hours after the 5K and started thinking about whether or not I should use the comped entry Lucas offered me to run the Race for the Cure 5K on Sunday morning (the 5K was Friday night). I hadn't even thought of doing this race until now because of the timing and the cost, but a free entry and a score to settle at the distance made it tempting. The problem was that Kiera had a long run scheduled early, which meant the kids would have to tag along with me. In the end common sense lost out and I headed out with the kids to run the race. The rumor was that I would have a shot at the win, which is something I just couldn't pass up.

This race turns mid-town Tucson upside down as it tries in vain to handle the influx of cars and people. We parked about a mile away, in front of a friend's house, and as luck would have it they needed help unloading a gigantic air conditioner out of the bed of a pickup truck. Since I was running late already, this short deadlift session served as most of my warm up. Finally I jogged the kids in the double stroller along with a ridiculously large backpack full of snacks, clothes and diapers to the registration tent, then veered through the maze of expo booths where I finally found my pal Lucas (the big winner I mentioned above). A quick change into a singlet and race shoes transpired while I simultaneously gave him the best babysitting tricks I have, like "just keep giving them food" and "keep the little one strapped in the stroller or you'll never find him". I do have great friends. I make it to the start with two minutes to spare and no warm up short of the jog over, but I'm ready.

I see the sinewy Kenyan and the college singlets with toes on the start line, and it becomes apparent that victory will not be mine. Still, it looks like a fast field. When the gun sounds I'm immediately aware of the need for a proper warm up. Still, I struggle along and get the legs moving. I feel I'm a little further back than I would like, but soon enough runners start coming back to me. The Kenyan breaks well clear early, followed by a few Pima College singlets, my pal Shane and a few other runners. I have the watch on to take splits, but I've made a deal with myself not to look at it until the finish. Mile one finds me feeling better than Friday, though I feel like I'm moving slower (I am as I look back at the 5:18 now).

The second mile I start bringing a few more back to me. I pass one runner, then I pass Shane. Shane doesn't seem to like this and surges past me soon after. I keep the same pace and pick him off again, and this cycle repeats itself before I'm finally past him for good. I feel like I'm holding pace as I come to the two mile mark, and just as I hit the split button someone calls out "Right at 10:40!". This rattles me, as I'm immediately aware that I've been running 5:20's when I was hoping for 5:10's. Still, there's nothing to do at this point but push for the finish.

I gather myself and dig in as we turn onto 22nd street, and for while the legs are fighting me I can feel that they're turning over faster as two more runners come into view. I get by one, then another, but as we come into the final 800 one of them breaks by me and I can't answer. I'm at full bore now and I don't even look for the third mile mark. A hard turn into the parking lot and a weak sprint brings me to the line for 5th place in 16:23.

Yes, I ran even slower. Still, I enjoyed this race and I'm holding my head high. I went into it without concrete expectations or any pressure to speak of, and while I'm still a 16:20 5K runner, it's nice to know I can repeat this performance a day and a half apart. This was a big event, with a huge number of spectators and participants, and I was honestly grateful to find myself in the mix towards the front. Even three years ago I never would have imagined this, and it's something I should never take for granted.

The kids had fun; Haiden got to climb and descend a huge inflatable slide and Finn managed to eat his weight in apples, cheez-its and pretzels. Lucas proved himself as a baby sitter, and I got to celebrate my time by eating Domino's pizza at 8:15 in the morning.

From the race it was off to a windy softball field, where the kids and I watched along with my mom while my dad played softball (they're down from Phoenix for the day). We're home now, Kiera finished her long run, and we're all exhausted even though it isn't even 2pm. The slip'n'slide comes out after Finn's nap. This is my kind of weekend.

Results are here. This guy won it without breaking a sweat.

Training: Today, 1 mile warm up (with kids), 5K in 16:23 (5:18, 5:21, 5:43 (1.1))
Yesterday, 5 miles, 35:48, 7:12 pace


Mark said...

two races in one weekend, nice!

a good read on your races and someday you'll get that breakthrough race to crack 16:00

Sempre Libera said...

Two fast performances so close together - pretty impressive! Sounds like a great weekend to me.

Blaxabbath said...


Thomas said...

Not bad for a second race in two days. I guess you're a road runner, not a track guy.