Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Our Daytona"

A year and a day ago, J and I began running together.  The Flushing Evening 5K, despite not being my first race will always be the race that birthed this entire adventure.  Sure I had the blog and had two road races under my belt, but it was at this point last year that I was falling off big time.  I did the Crim 5K, so I had that done, I got to run into Spartan Stadium, and I had a nice shiny Al Kayner medal.  What else does a man really need, you know? 

After that there were days where I was supposed to run, but ate too much and didn't, days where I went out for my 5K loop and cut it off at the 1/2 point and said "good enough," or would simply skip it just because I didn't feel like it or thought I had something better to do.  Needless to say, I thought I accomplished enough, I was getting sloppy, and I was coasting in a way that would have ended in just flat out quitting this whole running gig for good.

As much as I like to paint myself as a loner out there on the road, I wouldn't have made it this far without a joint venture with Jason.  I may have even quit by now. Without that shove leading up to the Crim that he gave me last year, in a perfect, best case scenario world, I'd be cutting off 5 mile runs at the half point and still trying to push out the 10 mile Crim distance once a month and wondering why I can't get past 6 miles.  Going to these runs with someone and having a friend to talk about the races with after is just part of enjoying the race. 

We got to Flushing about an hour before the race.  Jason was already registered, but I had to find registration, which was not in the same place as last year due to some sort of cheer leading or gymnastic practice in there.  I didn't get a shirt to commemorate the race, because they were pretty dang ugly this year.  Last year's was orange with a cool logo that glows in the dark, so I'll just stick with that one.  My bib upon signing up was a leftover Loons race bib from April 23rd, so now I have two of those.

Instead of corralling us in next to the school this time, they opened up the fence gate so we could just line up behind the start tracker.  I went no phones again, and the racers just in front of us asked "you putting the pedal to the metal?"  I told them "Yeah, I'm gonna try."  Then Jason started talking about running this last year, and said that it is like starting our running season over again.  Then he said that this race is kind of like "our Daytona 500."  I replied with "Yep, the season starts now, spring training is over."  Hopefully we make the most of this season.

The goal for the race was to improve on the PR yet again.  I'd have to say that was a pretty lofty goal considering this was the first day we had a heat advisory and the temperature at race time was sitting at 91°F.  When we started I got boxed in pretty bad until we hit the road, and I was going a lot slower than I wanted.  As soon as I had some space, I busted out a little bit too fast for the first mile.  Unfortunately there was nobody to tell us times at the mile markers like last year, so I had no idea where I was time-wise.

I was pressing pretty hard, and I fell off a bit in mile 2, but there were a lot of people stopping to walk.  I would say half the field stopped running within the first mile and a half because of the heat.  I was giving it about everything I had, and a woman even ran by me and asked if I was doing alright.  I'm sure I was breathing heavy and red in the face, but I had places to go.  Also, I was attempting to actually win the heavyweight division, which is pretty much a joke for me, because heavyweight divisions start at 185 and the biggest one is 225 and over.  Honestly, you can just be tall and get those weights.  When I was running and that weight in college, I would have beat our division's winner by 3 minutes.  If I get down there again, I might be unstoppable.  Too bad there's not a higher weight class for now, though.

Anyway, I fought off mile 2 and got some water, because it was just THAT hot.  I never need water on a 5K, but I needed a sip and a splash down at this one.  Despite the slow-down, I was still sure I was making record time, and just had to push out a good last 1.1 mile.  So I ran down the hill about as fast as I could following this group of teens running with some sign and trying to stay up with them as they sped up.  I ran down the final hill past my mom and sister that came out to cheer me along, and turned the corner to see 26:58, and as hard as I pumped through that last stretch I didn't make it in time.  In all fairness I was impeded by a girl that cut me off a bit as I was passing a guy and almost ran her over.  That would have been a bad day for her.  I did break past her and him after, but she overtook me again at the end.

The final chip time ended up as a 27:34.  As Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much."  I was still surprised I wasn't faster than that, because it felt like I gave it everything.  Even walking back to the car and back up the hill was a chore afterwards, so I know I wouldn't have had much more to give.  I'm happy with it.  I've been really consistent lately, too.  The last three 5Ks have been within 6 seconds of one another.  We'll see if this is a temporary peak or not as the summer goes on.

This is also the first time I actually beat Jason in an official race (the Al Kayner when he took the wrong turn doesn't count).  He just seems to struggle more with heat that I do, and that's pretty much the only advantage I ever get.  Otherwise, he's still beating the time I put up yesterday by a minute, as he still continues to improve as well.

More this weekend, I hope, and I'd still like to do a rundown compare and contrast of the Martian/DXA2.  We'll see if I get to that before it's completely irrelevant.

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