My primary goal for the race was to beat NASCAR Driver Jimmie Johnson, who has a 19:20ish PR and seems to be getting faster every year. That hope was dashed as I lined up at the start and I found out Johnson wasn't running this year. I guess he just couldn't take the pressure of racing against Munger!
I also knew Olympian Anthony "Fam" Famiglietti would be racing and bringing some of his super-fast Reckless Running buddies, so a top-3 finish also wasn't in the cards. So I decided on the same goal I've had for the previous two races: 18:30, to give myself enough cushion to potentially beat my 18:40 qualifying time for the Bloomsday Run in Spokane next May. At the registration table I ran into Fam's wife Karen, who was first female at this race last year. She gave me some tips about the course. Fast first mile, hilly Mile 2, downhill Mile 3, and uphill finish.
Fellow DARTer Bobby Aswell had warmed up with me, running the entire course. Foolishly, I hadn't started my Garmin right at the start line, so I didn't get an exact Garmin measurement of the course length. But I figured I had started it about a quarter-mile early, so when Bobby and I ran through the finish line at 3.41 miles, I decided the Garmin was measuring it a little bit short. Excellent! That means I'd have a bit of a cushion when checking my splits during the race. [In hindsight, my math skills were a little lacking that morning: If the course had measured exactly 3.1 miles, then adding a quarter-mile would only be 3.35 miles, not the 3.41 I had recorded. The course was not short!]
All I needed was to average a 6:00 on my Garmin, I figured, and I should be well under the 18:40 qualifying time, and probably under 16:30 as well. So why not shoot for 5:55, 6:00, and 6:05 as my mile splits? Made sense to me.
After Kahne gave a short speech, he lined up in the third row of runners (wearing a cotton sweatshirt!), and we were off. I didn't want to start off too quickly, so I let about 20 runners pull out in front of me. It was downhill right out of the gate, and downhill for nearly the first 3/4 of a mile. I could see Fam zipping ahead, right behind the lead car, with a group of three or four runners about 100 yards back. When the uphill started, I began to pass runners. I picked off about 10 before we reached Mile 1, halfway up the biggest single climb in the race. Bobby was still ahead of me, and surprisingly, a very small-looking boy with half of his hair dyed blue was just ahead of Bobby.
Soon I passed Bobby and Half-Blue Boy, with perhaps 10 runners ahead of me. As expected, I passed the Mile 1 marker before my watch beeped 5:50 for the mile. I'd banked at least 5 seconds. The road kept rising and I passed two more guys before starting a nice long downhill stretch. I still couldn't seem to match my Mile 1 pace, though. My pace was around 6:05, so I tried to pick it up. Now it looked like the only runners ahead of me were from the Reckless Running gang. Could I catch one of them, too? They rounded a corner at the bottom of the hill, and I followed, about 100 yards behind. But when I turned the corner, they were nowhere to be seen. Either they had hit the gas after the corner or I had misjudged how far ahead they were. Now the course flattened out, and it was definitely a struggle. Then we turned another corner and hit a short climb.
My GPS record shows the hill as just 20 feet of climbing, but it sure seemed higher than that. My watch beeped 2 miles, but Mile Marker 2 was nowhere to be seen. Finally I passed the marker. My Garmin had recorded 6:00 for the mile, but I didn't catch the time when I passed the marker. I convinced myself that the marker was in the wrong place, and the course was short. That would mean all I needed to do on Mile 3 was a 6:10 pace, and I'd still be under 18:40. I eased off a bit. [In hindsight, this was another mistake. I had some gas in the tank and I should have used it.]
I could hear footsteps behind me -- was it Bobby? No, it was another kid, blonde with a blue singlet, and soon he was passing me. No problem, I figured, there was no way he was in my age group, and I was comfortably under my 6:10 pace.
It was raining a light mist, and somewhere around here I removed my glasses, which had gotten so wet they were no help at all. I finished Mile 3 in 6:05, but I never saw the mile marker (undoubtedly because of my glasses). But as the mile clicked, the finish looked far away. Certainly farther than a tenth of a mile. Could the course actually be long on my Garmin? It could, and it was. I labored for every step, and finally crossed the line as my watch clicked 18:48, 3.14 miles on my Garmin. Argh!
I think if I hadn't assumed the course was short, I probably could have picked things up in Mile 3 and maybe still finished under 18:40. Bobby -- and Blue-Hair Boy (who turned out to be 13-year-old Riley Rittroff) -- finished shortly after I did, and Bobby and I did a few cooldown miles. We arrived back at the finish area just in time for the awards. I was 7th overall, and first in my age group (with Fam naturally winning the race). I got my award from Kasey Kahne, a famous race car driver (maybe I should actually watch him race some time!). Here's a photo Bobby snapped of me on the podium:
|I think the announcer likes my socks!|
I'm still pretty confident that a sub-18:40 is in the cards for me sometime this fall. I've only been really doing a 5K training routine for a few weeks. I've planned the training schedule so that I peak in November / December, so I don't expect to be at my best for another month or so at least.
That said, there's another Sunday race next week...can you guess what my goal will be?
Details of yesterday's race are below.