May 20, 2009
So I’m standing at the starting line of another 5k race. 3 days removed from the disappointment in VA I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had jogged ¼ of a mile to the starting line and my legs felt like lead. My old ex-ultra runner friend Rachel came down to keep me company at the start. There were 14 runners from my company here and another volleyball friend that would be here, but in the 3 blocks surrounding the start they had predicted 5-6k people so I knew they’d be no chance in seeing anyone. It was good to be able to catch up. And she actually said that perhaps someday she’d return to run the VT100 and then MMT100 with me. I’m going to have to hold her to that.
The national anthem faintly blared on the loud speaker which could hardly be heard over the crowd. I squeezed my way into the corral somewhere between 7-8 min mile pacers. I had joking told a friend that I was going to set a PR here after MMT and he had laughed at me and I wanted to beat most of my coworkers, one of whom said he was going to run sub 20 minutes, “no problem.”
The gun popped and the crowd surged forward, then stopped, then moved, then stopped. Ah the beauty of a large road race where they funnel you into a corral to make sure your chip starts and stops because tenths of a second win and lose these races. So foreign to me when generally it’s minutes and hours.
I spend the first “mile” blasting past people. Mile in quotes because I’m sure I ran 1.25 miles easy with the weaving in and out of idiot people that started too far ahead and burned out after a half a mile. It’s mildly frustrating to me that I have to start way back in the pack behind people that are no walking on the course in front of me. Seriously now, did you really have to be in front? Look at the size of you, you’re 250 easy! Exercise, that’s great, please do, I’ll help and encourage you. Clogging the race course, no, that’s a bad fat person and I should hit you with a KFC drumstick.
At mile one we’re greeted two “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen blaring from the stage which gives me a boost. I sing a few lyrics while passing more people and as we go in front of the old memorial hospital I’m treated to a blast of lilac sent. 7:40 the man yells with a stopwatch at the mile marker. I smile and push on, passing more and more people. I’m going to have to pick this up I think and make the next turn and pass a few dozen more people. I snag a water bottle from the water stop just before we get onto the Hospital campus and I ask the guy behind the table “where’s the beer?” he laughed and said, “that’s what I’d like to know too!” I laugh and pour half of the water on my head instantly dropping my temperature and causing me to speed up more.
“15:02” says the Mile two guy. Great, I’m making up time finally; my legs are coming to life. The next stage is as we exit the hospital campus and the band suuuccckkkkked. Well perhaps they weren’t bad, but seriously now. Singing a cover of the ever slow “Bridge over troubled waters” by Simon and Garfunckel may be a hit in a dive bar in Concord on a Friday night where people are crying in their beers. But at a road race trying to get people to make it up the hill? Not appropriate. So I belted out the chorus with her as loud as I could in a crying mocky
voice and ran up the hill as fast as I could to get away from that motivation killer group.
Another turn and into a neighborhood where there was an old couple, a woman standing beside a skinny man in a lawn chair drinking a miller light. I pointed and said, “Now you’ve got the right idea.” They both looked at me like I was speaking Japanese. I shook my head. What the hell is wrong with people? Why can’t you just joke and enjoy life. Oh well, another turn, the bluegrass band was at the same spot as always and I enjoyed the banjo for the few seconds that it was in earshot. Bluegrass music always gets me to run faster because it brings me back to my days of youth watching the Duke boys speed away from the Law back in Hazzard County.
The last turn and we head back towards the statehouse. There is one last rolling up and then down to the finish. A stupid DJ that thinks he’s on the nations number 1 top 40 hit station has set up shop at the top of the last hill. And is playing something awful that is causing the idiot high school kid in front of me to dance while running with his lady friend. I wasn’t sure which made me more upset, the fact that he was dancing to the music that made my ears want to bleed while running, the fact that he was running with an attractive girl, or the fact that both of them were still ahead of me. I take off the brakes and fly past them on the decent.
Final turn and I had put a little space between myself and the “kids” in the last two blocks but with two blocks to go they come screaming past me. He’s yelling at her to catch up and I yell to her, “Common, beat him!” I don’t know exactly where they finish because I felt a pack closing in on me and I put my head down and cranked out the last block without looking around. I managed to pass 4 more people before the finish while keeping the closing pack from catching me.
Final time - 22:21