For once, a race writeup that is current!
Yesterday, I raced the Super 5k in Narragansett, RI. Salient points: it very cold and windy, I/we achieved both individual and team victories, and I got mistaken for a (albeit very fast) 42-year-old woman. (results)
Melissa and Erin joined Alan and me for this race. The question of what to wear for the race loomed large in each of our minds. It was about 25° and very windy, and the first and last miles of this race were right along the ocean. I opted for a short-sleeve technical shirt under my singlet, and shorts. Alan wore shorts, Erin 3/4 length pants, and Melissa full pants. Everyone else wore long sleeves.
After a two-mile warm up, we stripped to our racing attire and went to the starting area. It was very windy, so that doing a strider out was no problem, but returning to the starting line we were fighting the wind. My hands were freezing (everyone else opted for gloves). I ran back to the car to get gloves, but changed my mind.
Melissa spotted a woman who she had beaten, but not by much, at a recent 10k, and pointed her out to me. (This woman ended up being Anne Kugler, though I didn't know this until I saw the results.) My main fear was that Trish Hillery, who won this race last year in 18:27 (I was second in 19:24) would be there. I thought I could beat her, since I beat her at Ronald McDonald, but it would have been much harder. She wasn't pre-registered, and she didn't show up. Phew! They didn't start the race until at least five minutes late, which was very annoying since many of us were standing around with bare legs and arms.
Finally, the gun went off. I jumped off the line and could only see men ahead of me. Anne appeared on my left. I tucked in behind her so that I knew where she was, and because of the wind. We went through the lovely arch below a castle that is so iconic in Narragansett, and ran down a long straight road. After maybe three minutes, Anne slipped back. I kept the pressure on, tucking in behind some men. I couldn't hear her behind me, a good sign, but no guarantee. Up ahead I could see that Alan was sharing the lead with Eric Lonergan.
We turned off the seawall road and then took another right onto an uphill road with a big round stone thing. All this meant was that the mile mark was approaching. I went through the mile in 5:47. Perfect! This was just great news. I want to run 17:55 for the 5k in Boston on Friday, which means 43 seconds per lap, or about 5:45 for the mile. I had just done this, and it didn't seem too fast; it seemed like the right speed to be running. (The mile marks could have been off, of course.)
Then it was a half-mile push to the turnaround cone. I was happy that I couldn't see runners approaching until I was quite close to the cone, which meant that I wasn't so far behind the leaders! Unfortunately, Alan was in fourth place now (only the top three would get cash). I wanted to know how far Anne was behind me, but all I could manage to say was "whoo!" and Alan said something encouraging like "great job!" I went around the cone at just about 9:00 exactly. When I turned around I could see that I had a bit of a gap on Anne, but it was hard to estimate, maybe 7-8 seconds. So I started catching guys on the way back to the road.
Hit the two-mile in 11:56, for a second mile of 6:09. All of our second mile times were slow, so we think the second mile was long (maybe the first mile was short). I caught one of the guys Alan runs with at TNT, Dave Shaad. A little while later, he passed me back and put on a gap. As we turned the corner onto the seawall road, there was a volunteer making sure we didn't get hit by cars. "Nice job, Trish!" he shouted as I ran by.
I refuse to look back in races, but I did so at this point. Was he really mistaking me for Trish Hillery, or had she somehow appeared behind me? No one was immediately behind me; he was actually mistaking me for Trish Hillery, who races in black OxySocks (knee socks) and purple sunglasses, and is 42 years old. (Actually, he was probably just saying this because she won the race last year, and he assumed the same woman had returned. He probably has no idea what she looks like.) It's nice to be mistaken for someone so fast, but it's definitely one of the weirdest encouragements I've ever received while running.
My plan had always been to find guys to draft off of, when I was running the last mile back, into the headwind along the seawall road. Unfortunately, when I got to the road, all the guys were 30 meters ahead of me! So I found myself breaking the headwind myself. Grrr. I focused on catching a guy in a blue T-shirt who was running with Dave Shaad. I managed to do this a little before I got to the castle arch again. Unfortunately, Dave had also accelerated, and he was still ahead of me.
At this point, Alan had finished and run back along the course and was there to give me the update. "Good job, you've got about 10 seconds on her; finish hard and run a fast time!" Ten seconds was not an acceptable amount of lead to trust to fate. I kicked hard and hit the 3-mile mark in 17:59 (6:03 third mile). I kept kicking and was happy that the announcer was saying "here comes the first woman" and not "what a race it will be for first place!" I ended up in 18:34, a comfortable 18 seconds ahead of Anne.
Me finishing, out-kicking the guy in the blue T-shirt.
The third-place guy pulled his hamstring, so Alan ended up a comfortable third, in the money.
Melissa ran a blistering last mile to reel in the woman in front of her, and outkicked the woman for third place. Erin had a tough race but finished in good form.
Alan finishing with no one in sight behind him; Melissa finishing with the woman she out-kicked visible in a gray shirt.
We managed to win the women's team competition by just two points, 10 points to 12. We each received a bottle of wine, and we got a $100 gift certificate to a local tavern (to share, apparently). Plus, Alan, Melissa and I got aluminum water bottles, and cash. We all made money (net) on the day. I also got a $25 gift certificate to a bagel place in the raffle, so we went there after the race and each got a dozen bagels (we bought them out; they only had 36 left, so we didn't even get baker's dozens.) Later that day, we watched the Super Bowl, and the correct team won. So it was a good day.
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