Monday, November 26, 2012

A Meaningful Race

I just got back last night from a Thanksgiving break of sorts. It was five glorious work-free days spending time with all of my favorite people in the world: my family. In this midst of this break, I ran a race and it turned out to be perhaps one of the most memorable races I will ever run. My brother, sister-in-law and I decided, somewhat on a whim, to run a Thanksgiving Day race. We were looking for something longer than a 5K but shorter than a half-marathon and we ended up choosing a small race in Chisago City, MN called the "Dash 'n Dine Race"; a 5-mile race.

Temperatures on race-morning were PERFECT. Mid-to-upper-40s, mostly cloudy and only a slight breeze. My brother (Tony) and I decided to do a couple of warm-up miles and when we finished those, we realized that we had gone out too early because there was still 30 minutes until the start. After twiddling our thumbs for the next 1/2 hour with nervous stretching and pacing, it was finally time.

I didn't really know to expect as far as a goal-time. I had never run the 5-mile/8K distance and my training over the past month hasn't really been all that focused, I've been concentrating more on weights and injury-prevention than I have on speed or mileage. That said, I had it in my mind that I wanted to come in around 33-33:30 which would have been a 6:36-6:42 mile split. I felt confident that I could achieve that goal.

The race started as all races do: too fast. Through the first mile I was focusing on slowing down to a hold-able pace. There were only a handful a people in front of me through Mile 1 and my brother was way ahead of me by then with another guy running right next to him. About mid-way through Mile 2, I saw the 2nd place guy stop and put his hands on his knees. I thought to myself, "huh, maybe he just started to fast (?) and ran out of gas?" As I drew closer to where he was though, I realized that he was clutching his ankle area and as I approached him I yelled, "hey are you ok?" and he said that his Achilles had popped. I felt bad for him, but only for a second. At that point it was my brother in 1st place and only one person between he and I.

At that point I realized that I had a unique opportunity before me. Tony and I don't get to run too many races together - we've managed to run 3 races this year, but typically it's been about one race per year. We've never had the chance to go 1st and 2nd in any race before and I realized we had that chance in this race. "It might be the only chance we ever get" I thought to myself. Tony had a stranglehold on 1st place so it was up to me...

Around Mile 2 or shortly after the mile 2 mark, I overtook 2nd place. I felt good, but oddly enough it was at that point that I started to doubt whether I could hold the pace I had established. I'm sure this happens to everyone in races; you get to that point there it starts to hurt, but you're only about half-way. This was where it really helped to know that I had a chance to finish 2nd to my brother. I decided that I was going to be damned if I gave up 2nd place, no matter how much it hurt. I shortened up my stride and put my head down. As we hit the mile 4 mark there was a 90 degree turn and so I peeked to see how far ahead I was - my best guess was that I had about a 20-30 second lead on 3rd place. For the last 1/2 mile, the courses for the 5K and 5Mile races joined so I was having to yell to get people to move out of the way. I saw Tony a few hundred yards from the finish and he gave me a high-five and a "Go Adam!". I crossed the finish-line in 31:24 - 2nd place out of 72 finishers in the 5-Mile race.

I suppose there is one caveat to be made. My Garmin measured the course at 4.90 miles, which is within the potential error range for it to have been 5 miles, but more than likely it was closer to the 8K distance of 4.97 miles. Regardless - I consider it an 8K and/or 5M PR, close enough right? Either way, I'm very happy with the time, it absolutely crushed my expectations. Tony got a PR in the race, 29:00 to take home the turkey (literally). It was a pretty disorganized little race, but fun nonetheless. Tony's wife MJ also set a PR in the race and finished in 11th place (2nd overall female). It was a great day all around and a race I will always remember fondly.

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