As I toed the line yesterday, I started, in terms of races, my third year of running. So many miles, so much I’ve learned, and yet, I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go. I really wasn’t sure how this race would go when I started. I mean I had been doing mostly heart rate based intervals with some easy and recovery runs between and long runs on the weekend. Ever since my hundred mile attempt back on my birthday weekend, I had noticed in training I was somewhere in this odd middle of not really being fast (8 minute mile at the University Mile about a month ago) and not really having great endurance (20 miles at the Lincoln Parish Park training with buddies took me an hour and a half longer than them). Also, the temperature had dropped into the 40s and 50s just the day before the race due to a cold front coming through. I usually do better in the just above freezing temps but this was all of a sudden. In fact, I am trying to fight off a cold as I write this up.
Though it was cold, thankfully, the wind was at a minimum. I have run out at the Poverty Point Reservoir when it was nearly unbearable with a strong wind coming off the lake in the bitter cold. But today was different. As we were waiting to start, I spoke to a few familiar faces from local races I had met and some of our Delhi crew that make a yearly pilgrimage to the St. Jude’s Memphis Marathon weekend. I also saw one of my training buddies and his family and the family of my other training buddy (although he had to work and was unable to make this year’s race). If I can get over this cold, I will be attempting to complete a Spartan trifecta with those two guys next weekend at the Dallas Beast.
After the gun fired, I took off feeling pretty good. I generally try not to look at my watch and pace until I get at least a quarter mile or more into the race. It gives the Garmin a little while to get its bearings and not give me crazy numbers but also keeps me from overthinking things until I settle into a pace. When I finally did look down, I saw that I was around a 8:30 pace and started to get a little concerned that I had gone out way too fast. One of the tough parts of this race is that your 5Kers and 10Kers all start simultaneously and on the same course for the first 1.5 miles so you may be keying off a 5K runner and actually going way too fast for your race that is twice the distance. By the first half mile, I realized I wasn’t going to see my training buddy, Jessie, until just before the turnaround. He was killing it and already out of sight by the first mile marker. (Last year, he hit a 51:36 while I made my first sub hour at 55:23; but this year he looked to be going for 45 or under!)
Somewhere between mile one and the 5K turnaround, I was thrilled to achieve a guilty pleasure of a goal (I won’t state it directly here because it would be ugly and petty to do so.) At this point I had settled into some 9 minute-ish mile paces and figured if all went well, I could hold this down the lake and hopefully all the way back.
It was rather uneventful from 1.5 to about 2.5 miles in. I wasn’t really passing anyone and no one was really passing me. The starting herd had really thinned out and I was sure anytime now I would start to see the front runners on the way back. The first one to pass by already on the return trip was the eventual winner, Chad. I had met him just over a year ago at Hell’s Hills half marathon in Ruston’s awesome Lincoln Parish Park. He is an awesome runner that also does a lot for Ainsley’s Angels and their benevolent work. Three more runners passed and then I saw my training partner and Spartan brother, Jessie in 5th place! He was killing it!
I reached the turnaraound at about 27:30 (about my third fastest 5K). I realized that if I could hold a 9-ish mile for the next couple of miles, a sub hour 10K was within reach. I had no clue as to where I was within my age division. I knew Chad was in first and he was in my age group but I am so bad at judging people’s age, I don’t even try anymore (it’s nice in triathlons when they do you the solid of writing folks’ age on their calf for you).
I held around 9:45 for miles 4 and 5 and it was quickly becoming clear to me that the initial 8:30 mile had been a little too fast. During mile six, try as I might, I could not keep my pace lower than 10 minute miles. Slowly, I started getting passed by a few people here and there. I would use them to try and pull me along for a bit on the adrenaline but unless they looked to be in my age group, I would let them go after a quarter to tenth of a mile. Most of them were ladies. The few men that passed me looked either way younger or older than me.
As I came into the last half mile, I saw Jessie going back out. He had already finished his race. He was going out to encourage and accompany his wife in to the finish line. I can’t tell you how many times on a 5K, I have experienced that similar encouragement from this guy. In the past, I would be working to beat 30 minutes for a 5K and around the last turn would come that bearded grinning face, ever the Barnabas to my Paul (many times running with a thorn/stitch in my side). This particular race was just a quick check-in to make sure I was good as he continued on to encourage his wife to a PR for her.
As I came into the finish, I was so glad to see the clock in the range of 57 minutes so that I hadn’t just barely beat an hour but had done it with a little time to spare. All things considered, I was only two minutes and 7 seconds off of last year’s pace while running 15 pounds heavier than last year.
All things considered, it was a good day and a good race. I wish I could have been out in the cane fields of Port Allen or the streets of the Fondren region of Jackson with many of my LUR brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, all three of these races fell on the same date and I try to support my most local when I can.
The only disappointments for me on this particular day were that once again I missed out on the easy win by not signing up for the 5K (empty 40-44 age group!). As I looked at the results on the board coming in I had mistakenly assumed I was in for 2nd place since the overall winner was from my age group but different timing companies meant that overall winners were still included in their particular age group standings pushing me to third. It’s kinda funny how the first year that I seriously did the 5K I didn’t place and then the next year I got third. Now with the 10K, the same pattern has emerged (didn’t place first year, second year third place).
Up next, my Spartan brothers from the Sons of Thunder and I head to Dallas to become members of the Trifecta tribe by completing the Spartan Beast (13-15 miles, 30+ obstacles,
30 burpees for any failed obstacles). GO TEAM BABY BEAST!
Weight at time of race: 235 lbs.
Source: Garmin Connect