Friday, July 22, 2011

The rainiest race yet (Bobcat Bolt)

(Results) June 25, 2010

This is a race that has caught my eye for a few years: a 5k and 10k, nearly in my hometown, with plenty of prize money. We knew that Lesley, Dan and Bob would be doing the 10k, so Alan and I did the 5k.

We thought the race started at 10:00, but it was at 9:30, so we arrived a scant 15 minutes before the start of the race and had only a few minutes to sign up, change into racing flats and do some warming up. Warming up was necessary because there was a light drizzle that threatened to strengthen into rain. Bob was nice enough to loan me a hat for the race.

The race start. Photo from Foster's Daily Democrat article

The 10k and 5k were together for the first 5k, and then the 5k runners stopped and the 10k runners kept going. So when the race started, I ran with Lesley (10k) and another woman (Nicole) who was doing the 5k. We ran exactly together around the high school and up the hill to the middle school, retracing the "Bagel Challenge" that I ran weekly in gym class in middle school. I felt that the pace was pretty honest, and yet Lesley and Nicole were chatting! Hmmm, this Nicole was apparently quite legit. I missed the mile mark because, although I saw both of them glance at their watches simultaneously, I didn't think that it had been close to a mile yet. Time flies!

We passed Stoke and took a right to go past the town pool, and I was getting a little worried because Nicole was still right there. I was hoping to win the 5k! At about 1.75 miles, she tucked in behind me to draft, and from there she slowly drifted back. We got to two miles in 12:01. Now it was really pouring. Lesley and I splashed through the puddles, passing men now and then.

We went into a little housing development with about a half mile to go, and I noticed that it was raining so hard that the road was covered in water. Maybe 1/2 inch of water was sitting on the road, with more pouring down -- it was raining so fast that the water couldn't drain fast enough. I was really glad I had the hat to keep the rain out of my eyes!

I was not worried about Nicole, and I didn't particularly care what my time was, but I didn't want Lesley to beat me through 5k since she was running twice as far. So I turned it up a little for the last half mile or so. In this picture, you can see that I got a little ways ahead of her by the finish:

Photo from Coolrunning by Richie Blake
See those "rocks" on the ground around my feet? Those are raindrops. The ground was covered in a sheet of water, with big raindrops pelting down.

I am doing a weird motion in the picture because they guy in front of me stopped running as soon as he crossed the line, whereas I decelerated gradually, so I nearly ran into him. Luckily, this moment was preserved for posterity and showcased on Coolrunning.

Lesley had asked me during the race if I wanted to keep going and do the whole 10k with her -- joking, but I offered to meet her with a mile to go and help push her to the end. So as soon as I finished, Alan and I changed our shoes (he also won the 5k -- see photo, above) and ran backwards along the course. We met her with a little more than a mile to go. I was surprised at how difficult it was to turn on the fast pace again! Alan had no trouble keeping up, but I was straining to stay just behind her. We ran with her for about 3/4 mile and then figured she would have plenty of motivation from there to the end.

After the race, the five of us all cooled down together, and then the photographer took a picture of us for the paper:

Photo from Foster's Daily Democrat article

The post-race meal was very generous, and we had a good chat (despite everyone being soaked through). They gave each of us a plaque in addition to a check. I was hoping to see some of my former classmates, but I only saw one or two people that I barely knew.

As an aside, first place in the 5k and second place in the 10k carried the same prize -- $100. I finished only 20 seconds ahead of Nicole, and she certainly kept the pressure on for the whole race -- whereas in the 10k, the second place woman's time was 43:10, which is much closer to my training pace than to my 10k race pace. But I'm glad I did the 5k anyway.

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