Saturday, April 23, 2011

Scott Carlson Memorial 5k

(Results) After last week's frustrating near miss, I wanted another chance to run fast. A little sleuthing told me that both of the women who beat me at the Carlson race last year would not be racing this year, making it likely that I could grab the $250 for first place. Also, the weather forecast was 100% chance of rain, plus 15 mph wind -- decidedly nasty weather that would eliminate anyone who was wavering. But not me!

We got there just after registration opened so I could get my size S shirt, and so we could see whether Alan should register or just run with me. He decided to register after EL and a high school team were the only fast-looking guys. It was only lightly raining during our 3-mile warmup on trails. I had heard that the NB flats were slippery on wet pavement, so I tried them out, but the traction was fine, so I wore them for the race (and never thought about it again, so that was a false rumor). It was cold and raining, so I ran about an extra mile doing light jogging and strides in the 10 minutes before the race started, just to stay warm in my singlet. I saw a couple of intense-looking women, but I could tell that they were masters runners, so I was not too concerned. According to the announcer, this year had a record-breaking field, despite the rain! Hopefully this will contribute to a speedy cure for ALS.

The race started and we ran up the initial hill. I went out behind JY, who goes out fast in every race. I was hoping to run between 3:30-3:35 for the first 1k (this course marks every k and every mile!). I passed a group of the high school boys' team before the 1k, and hit it in 3:34. Great! It was windy and rainy and I had to remember to look ahead so that I could cut the tangents properly. There were two high school boys ahead of me, one in the team uniform and one in a white cotton undershirt, and I worked on catching up to them. I passed the mile in 5:46. Great! I could see Alan up ahead, and it was clear that he would get second place, also great!

The guy in the uniform came back to me and I passed him just after the mile. Then we ran past some girls who were cheering, and he surged to pass me. I kept running the same pace and caught him again. We passed 2k in 7:10, for a 3:36. Very consistent! As we made a gradual right turn, I saw some runners in black (not in the race), and when they cheered for me I realized it was some friends who were out for a 20-mile run. We hit 3k in 10:44 for a third k of 3:34, still consistent! I was very happy to be running such an even pace, running the times I wanted without having to go all-out do to it. We got to 2 miles in 11:30 for a 5:44 second mile. I was wondering if this was good, and then I remembered that my goal last week was 11:35, so I realized I was on pace for sub-18.

A little before 4k, a man passed me who was clearly a masters runner (gray hair). He ran near me for a while and I tried to draft off of him and the uniformed high school runner, who was still right near me. (The drafting was unsuccessful, because it was a crosswind.) I figured he didn't know, so I told him: "Catch that blue guy, get 100 bucks." About 30 seconds later, he asked me what I had said. "Pass the guy in blue, third place. 100 bucks, no joke, three deep," I replied. During the race, this seemed like perfectly clear communication to me. Now that I am typing it, I realize that the only people who could parse that message are the sort of people who would already be well aware of the prize structure. But I figured that, as a masters runner, he probably wasn't picking up cash very often, and it would be cool if he could. He never did understand what I was saying -- he asked me after the race -- and he didn't catch the kid, in any case.

I went through 4k in 14:21 (new 4k PR! Previous 14:48) and it was all downhill to the finish. The men were running away from me and I tried to stay with them to run a fast time. I went under the bridge at 3 miles and saw 17:11 on my watch. Wow, it would be a fast time! I kicked hard as Alan and JJ cheered for me. I saw 17:40 come and go on the clock, so no PR, but still close. My official time was 17:43.7 (for a fifth k of 3:23). My second-fastest 5k ever!

I was impressed to see that the second and third finishers were quite fast also, both under 19:00. They turned out to both be very accomplished multisport athletes, one a recent national champion duathlete and the other a Hawaii Ironman champion, both masters runners.

The rain really started to pour just after I finished, so I quickly put on more clothes and Alan, EL and I headed out for a four-mile cooldown on the trails. It was not wet in the woods, and we had a good conversation. There was a nice post-race spread with pizza, fruit and sherbet. I was very happy with the cash prize, and even happier when it turned out that they double-dipped and I got a great goody bag for the age group! Alan got one too, of course, so now cumulatively from this race we have:

$400, two tech shirts, 8 PawSox baseball tickets, a one-hour massage certificate, $45 to a gift shop, two chocolate bunnies, 24 marshmallow Peeps, two Army water bottles, two Army lanyards, an Army mug (what are we going to do with these? This is a Navy family), a red baseball cap, two fancy pens in cloth cases, two ALS wristbands -- and hopefully, someday, a cure for ALS.

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