Wouldn't you know the first really, really cold day of the fall was the same day as this race.
This used to be the annual fun run for the high school where the boys competed. I've made it a regular thing for me whenever it didn't interfere too much with a big race I might be training for. This year it only interfered a little bit and while Rehoboth will be fun, it's not a race I'm keying on at all. My schedule had eight miles for Saturday, so of course I could run a fast-ish 5K in the middle of it.
Dropped in the night before for my shirt and bib. On the way out there was a guy I recognized. One of Connor's old running mates, heading in for his gear. There would be a few more of their class at the race. Rick Austin was their track and field coach. The race was renamed in his honor after he unexpectedly died last fall. He was my age. Makes you think.
The 9:30 start gave me plenty of time to sleep in, wake up, eat and do a few other things before driving the 5 miles to the start. I could have run a few miles but I'm not really motivated right now. I supposed I should also admit that after Wednesday's intervals my left calf was slightly unhappy, so part of it was not wanting it to blow up before the 5K. Always better to blow up during a 5K, not before.
It's a small race, too, which means I didn't have to show up early for parking or anything other than time for an easy mile to warm up. Where I am in training (and my latest comeback) right now, I expected (hoped?) to run just under 8 minute pace. If I could do that for the first two miles, then I'd see if there was anything in the tank for number 3. My warm up overlapped the national anthem, so I missed that. I might have felt badly about that if it hadn't also been 30 degrees. I was wearing tights, double shirts, double gloves, and a headband. My ears didn't used to get so cold. I used to have hair that covered them most of the time.
The start was an air horn. There was a false start when the starter was testing it out. "No! Wait!" "OK, now." The course isn't designed to be a burner, the first turn is 90 degree right at about five yards past the starting line. I was about 3-4 rows back, although it wasn't packed at all. Lots of walkers and they were all in the back (halleluiah!). It's 30 or so yards to the street when we made another 90 degree right ... onto the sidewalk. This race will have to be reconfigured if they start to get a big turnout. The next half mile is on the sidewalk. I checked my pace as we headed past the American Legion building. 7:10! Not what I had in mind. My tempo run on Monday had been about 8:00, which is why I'd planned that pace for the day. 7:10 was way out there. In the past, I'd have figured this was my pace and then just tried to hang on as best I could. These days I'm so much wiser and conservative in my racing (NOT!), but I did pull back a little to what seemed more appropriate. Something I thought I could maintain for a couple of more miles.
I looked ahead and thought I counted a dozen or so runners ahead of me. About what I figured, based on the competition in previous years. I decided top ten was my target for the day, but with 2-1/2 miles to go, there wasn't too much to base that on. But it's good to have a goal, right? Making the next turn put us on a nearly half mile section of road that was fortunately not too busy on a Saturday morning. There's no sidewalk on this road and they had us on the right side of it, with the traffic if there had been any. No real issues with it except the dusting of snow we had, on top of the leaves that were on the ground made for some slippery footing. I took advantage of the no traffic thing and ran in the car lane. I passed one guy a little younger than me I thought, and then one of the high school kids. I'll call him Big Hair because he had a huge mess of it. He was also a pretty loud strider, too, because I could hear him close behind me most of the race. Guess that helped keep me focused.
Mile 1 came in at 7:24. Faster than I'd expected, but it felt about right so I tried to hold the pace there. They had a table with water set up shortly after that but it didn't look like anyone ahead of me had taken any. I'm always a little surprised with 5K water stops. Someone later said all the cups were iced over. Brr.
This is a twisty sort of race course, through the neighborhood streets. 100% flat, which is nice for me anyway. No hills and only two days of speed work in my training so far. I could hear Big Hair behind me and the students watching the course were cheering for him, but his steps seemed to be farther back, so I didn't check. I was still feeling pretty strong, too. Mile 2 was 7:25.
Usually the second mile in a 5K is the longest (seems like), but this time it was #3. I've done this race 3-4 times or more. You'd think I would know the course by now. Anyway, there was some zigging and zagging. I passed another guy - 30-ish AG - and felt that old familiar dead leg feeling. The legs wanted to slow down, but I made them wait ... as much as I could. At 2.75 miles there's another 90 left onto the school grounds. My sons' XC coach was there. He gave me a low five and told me I still had the Master's title. Before getting to the track for the final 300, there was a section of construction with soft dirt and then some grass behind the locker rooms. That piece turned out to be my slowest part. I was afraid the younger guys behind me would put on a kick that I wouldn't be able to match and I'd lose my spot. Ahead of me was the first female. I wasn't going to catch her.
Mile 3 was 7:31. Pretty sure I lost those 5 seconds on the dirt and grass, so splits for the day were just about even. Tough to do in a 5K. Official finish time - 22:47.1. 11th place overall and first runner over 50. So there's an AG win.
Normally I stick around this one for the awards, which take forever since they wait for all the walkers and then do 20-30 AGs, but Mrs. Dave had lots of plans for the afternoon, so I booked it home.
Not a great day, but very satisfying for a few reasons. First, those solid, even splits. Faster than I thought I'd be. The AG win of course. The calf, which had been bugging me since Wednesday was 100% quiet. (it's been a worry off and on since then, so I'm trying to be careful now). And Louie, the aggravated knee, was a model joint.
So, on to Rehoboth.