Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Before I start in on the race report, I just want to say congratulations to M-R for finishing her first 5k! She did awesome – and she had quite a burst of speed at the finish. There’s definitely more in the tank – why not find out how much is in there, M-R?
And J-A was so great for running with M-R and encouraging her and distracting her with conversation! J-A had someone to run with her in her first 5k, so she knew how nice it was – and was willing to change her race plans to do something nice.
What is it about the Scallop 5k? Somehow they get perfect weather every year. Or at least for every year that I’ve run. Sunny. Cool. No wind. It’s a race that the weather gods themselves favour.
With great weather, my only worry for this race was the strain in my hip flexor that had been nagging at me – such an old man complaint, “my hip, my hip” – but that’s just part of being an Antique! It was stiff and sore in the morning, but I was able to get a good warm up in – to open up my range of motion – so that by start time, I was feeling fine. I don’t think my hip was a factor at all.
The start of this race is always a blast. The Scallop Queen sets things in motion, and then (inevitably) there’s a pack of guys who seem to be racing 500m instead of 5k. This year was no different: the Queen said go – a mob of young guys took off flying. Like always, however, the first hill brought them back to the reality of 5k. I give them credit, though – they seem to fight hard the whole way.
My race plan for this one was simple: try my best to hold on to Jonathan – who’s been having a great season – and hope his legs die at some point from the long Timex season or hope my legs find something they haven’t found yet. So I linked up with him after we made the first turn up the hill and stuck with him as we passed all the early guys. By 1k, we were out in front.
From 1k on, there wasn’t much drama. The plot line was this: I did my best to stay close and he kept hammering, opening the gap a little with each k. As we finished the first loop, I gave my nephews a big smile and a wave – they’d painted signs for me (and for J-A and mommy) and covered them with stickers. At this point, I was still within reasonable striking distance, but (as my brother told me later when he saw the lack of intensity in my face) the race was, in effect, over.
As we turned the corner and went up the hill a second time, Jonathon kept working the pace, and I settled for 2nd. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that’s how it went. I settled. By 4k, the gap was wide enough that he really didn’t have to worry. I saw him look back a couple of times, but his win was never in doubt. Along the final stretch, I did try to pick things up a bit – and when I saw the clock, I did my best to finish hard. But I lost by 9s – an eternity in a 5k.
It wasn’t all bad, though. I did manage to run a PB by 1s – my official time was 16:57. But I couldn’t help being disappointed in my overall effort. To be honest, there was no way I was going to beat Jonathan – but I could’ve given him a better race. Instead, I settled – wasn’t willing to really hurt.
As I was whining to J-A later about the whole thing, she laid it out clearly for me. In fact, she was really insightful. She observed that I’ve never risked it all in a race – I’ve always run safe. I’ve never been willing to court a blow up, never been willing to risk dying badly and finishing 20th or something – or not at all. And she’s totally right. Now, this doesn’t mean I should’ve gone out like crazy over the first 500m – it doesn’t mean running silly. But I should’ve tried to stick right on Jonathan and seen what happened. I might have gotten a decent PB out of it – I might have pushed the race to finish even faster. Or I might have died and finished way slower. But at least I would’ve raced. I’ve won a few, finished top 3 in a few, run on the Timex team – I’ve had solid results given my abilities – but I’ve never risked it in a race.
That has to change.
I’m going to have to work on more than just getting faster – I’m going to have to find a way to get gutsier as well.