Friday, May 13, 2011

The Healthy Melrose "5"K

Two weekends ago I toed the line at the Healthy Melrose "5"K. This was to be the season opener for racing with William. Unfortunately the race director decided last year's route wasn't hilly enough and made this year's edition downright brutal. After a recon earlier in the week I decided it wouldn't be safe to race it with William. Just like last year the course seemed at least .1 mile long so, considering the steep hills, there was no reason to run for time, rather, I was running for place. Also, I decided that I'd wear the GPS but not bother using it for pacing. Data collection only!

The race went off with a bang. Since the lead runner went off like a jackrabbit I felt obligated to go with him. It was obvious that we were on a torrid pace so I decided it was time for a chat to gauge if I should be running with him. Unfortunately our chat was completely unintelligible with the exception of me learning that he didn't know the course. At that point I took my only peek at my GPS and saw we had run .35 miles at a 5:05 pace. Since it was unlikely I was going to run a sub 16 5k, especially while still recovering from Boston, I wished him luck and let him go. Interestingly he only went 15-20 seconds ahead where he would remain for the rest of the race.

The first hill was steep but runable. At the top I hit the first mile at 5:56 and was starting to feel the effort. Recovery was short since there were still a couple inclines to ascend. It was my plan to put it into high gear down the long hill in the middle of the race but a decent side stitch set in and forced me begin some healthy suffering instead. I didn't put it into high gear as my second mile split (6:15) indicates.

The final hill was rough but when I realized I wasn't ceding any ground I hung on and suffered some more, just in case. The stitch eased in the last half mile but it was still apparent I wasn't going to make up any lost time. Glancing back down Melrose Street as I made my final turn I could see no runners behind me so I hatched a plan. Since I had second placed locked and wasn't running for time I decided to find William and finish the race with him. I was still bummed not to have run with him due to the course.

I pulled into the final straight about 15-20 seconds behind the lead runner but, as I approached the finish, I jumped in the crowd and grabbed William in his wheelchair and began pushing him towards the finish. The woman who was managing the finishing chute kept waving as to say "no, over here!" As we neared the line the photographer from the local paper was scrambling to get a picture so we stopped and waited for him before crossing the line. My shenanigans cost me about 15-20 seconds but William seemed to enjoy it. He likes to finish up front in these little 5Ks and this was the best I could offer.

Despite this I still finished the hilly and long 5k in 19:32, over a minute ahead of the third placed runner. For a 5K it was pretty sloppy and my Boston effort from just 12 days prior was still lingering in my legs. If I made it look easy I'm a good actor.

Another highlight of the race was that I ran representing the Roosevelt PTO (William's school) and won $250 in gift certificates for them to auction off. I'm guessing this was the grand prize. How often can you get beat in a race and walk away with the biggest prize?


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