What an incredible event.
I just about wasn’t going to write up a report for this one, but after thinking it over for a while there’s just too much to say. Perhaps I’ll be able to address it all in a recap…
I showed up at around 6:10am… precisely when I meant to! Here’s a token of advice for next year’s event: If you choose to park in the garage at McGee & Pershing (it’s a rather convenient place to park) fret not finding a spot on the level you enter… simply head down to orange or up to blue. Yep. There’s all the spots.
So… I mill around a little race morning… not long as I’ve only left myself just enough time for the necessities and not much more. A quick trip to the compulsory port-o-pot, a glance around, and finding my pace group. I chose to seek out the 3:45 pace group. I was able to make my way forward easily enough and got the smart pacing armband and checked out the splits. In the corral waiting for the race to start I conversed with a couple of people… coincidentally a runner that I knew well enough – just from seeing him in race after race after race locally… (all the REALLY local 5ks (the ones in my exact town))… and I knew who he was but he didn’t me and he was quite shocked when I knew him by name. Oh well… I met another man from Oklahoma, Randy who was quite nice and had a good conversation with.
The race starts.
For some dumb-ass reason, for the first time ever, I decided to bring a cotton hooded sweatshirt with me. Oh don’t worry – I had every intention in the world of jettisoning this thing the instant it got too warm… the only problem was it was too warm from the get-go. The forecast was for 40-44 degree temps and I supposed that would be chilly enough to warrant this for a mile or two. Not so… it was way too much and I was only wayyyy too happy to be rid of it at the first aid station – which couldn’t come soon enough – for the sole reason of getting rid of this thing! My hope was that it would be donated as they do in New York… but probably not so much here… …. I just hope it found some sort of home. Anyway — long story short: trust my own instincts and go with just a tech-t! So I guess that was my first mistake… from about 1/4 mile in it was too much, although to its credit I was absolutely comfortable (warm) leading up to that point.
No big deal! I sweated a little too much probably and I tossed that sucker at the 2 mile aid station feeling instantly better and not at all cold. Still running with Randy… saw a runner I’d met a couple of weeks prior in my hometown at a run. Had a nice quick conversation there… and Jenny – (whom it was!) if you’re seeing this I looked up yours and Jason’s results… both absolutely stellar! Two sub 2 hour finishes!!! Congrats!
The next minor incident occurs at the Liberty Memorial… an early highlight of the race to be sure but I had to stop and double knot both shoes as I’d not done so before and they were becoming undone… well there was a nice waste of time early in the race and I was thinking to myself… SECOND mistake! Seems trivial now of course. But its 30 seconds stopped and then extra exerted energy catching up with pace group… etc…
Anyway… leaving my mistakes behind I began to have a nice race. Occasionally conversing with Randy or straining to hear what the 3:45 pacer was saying… I noted quickly 5 miles. Huh… 5 miles? That first five miles FLEW by! In fact before I knew it was 7! 7 miles flew by like it was nothing… just still running… had some slow splits to start with the 3:45 pace group which were being made up for now as the splits went from slower than planned to faster than planned. I was keeping up so far but didn’t know for how long.
I alternately was running next to Randy, trying to catch up with him, or running next to other persons met on the course with light conversation through mile 16.
Through mile 16. Did you read that!!? I ran that!! About mile 15 the legs were feeling like 2 dead weights I was dragging along… this was interesting because my upper torso felt absolutely fine. Head, arms, lungs, good. Legs, bad. I ran for as long as I could which was until of course the moment of mention which is mile 16. I had to finally stop to use a port-o-pot. I told Randy “Gotta take a break, I’ll catch up” which I believe sounded like “Gotta take a break… mrphlepluff” I never saw him again.
As you could probably imagine… this was an immense relief.
When I exited and resumed the race the 3:45 pace group was fading into the distance.
I gave them chase for a while but they were pretty much gone.
Mile 18. Ow.
Mile 20. Really? 6 more to go eh?
Mile 20.2 –
Mile 21: A friend of mine, whom I’ve not even seen at all up to this point suddenly appears in front of me! A large German Shepard is attacking him! Am I delirious!? He shouts at the dog and the woman rushing up to apologize… this is all fairly surreal as I’m laboring with bemused interest. The dog shakes off and its back to the miles. Yes that was a small diversion. Now more miles.
I was really hurting here. Constantly almost stopping to walk… and once… yes… chugging it down, to … stop… and… wal… no… just keep running.
Was it about mile 21.5 I had heard rumblings, maybe even previous to this of the 3:50 pace group behind me. I didn’t see them for quite a while. I even had a brief scare as a formation of runners came up to pass me at one point, which could be nothing other than a pace group… but it was in fact a relay team.
Well by mile 22 – I think — I was nearly delirious all through here… the 3:50 pace group did in fact catch up with me. This turned out to be a wonderful thing. It was the two 3:50 pacers, and someone who had stuck with them. That was it, these 3. I can only imagine what fantastic trail of carcasses they left in their wake over the past 22 miles, and here they were with the sole survivor… were they going to pass me too? Was I just relegated now to “some sort of finish” which would not only not be 3:45, but also not in the realm of 3:50, and scarier still, not even a PR, or even under 4:00?
“Hey, what’s your name man?” They asked me… that simple greeting sparked such a friendly next few miles I couldn’t believe it. These pacers literally scraped me off of the pavement whether they knew it or not and gave me a third wind. I simply said “I’ll try to stay with you” and I did. We really hammered out a couple of those miles there too. I’m sure (even though they never asked) they knew I had 3:49ish in mind at least and they paced me! They dragged me out of the gutter yes, through pure inspiration, and through much encouragement and friendly chatter that I forgot about all my pain and knocked out a couple of miles with what I knew had to be some nice splits.
With about a mile to go, they bowed out and wished me well shouting enough encouragement to take me home. I was HURTING at this point, probably on the brink of death – but I was running it in regardless… keeping some semblance of a strong pace. They only bowed out to hit their time, and for being the 3:50 pace group… if they had a little bit of a lead on it, it wasn’t too much. I crossed the line nearly bursting into tears at 3:48:51. I’d left it all out there.
After pacing around a little I waited for the 3:50 pacers to finish (which wasn’t long… they finished right at 3:50) and met them there for a short and sweet reunion. I’d like to have possibly ran the whole race with them … but I think somehow I did it perfectly… going out just slightly too fast with the 3:45 and building a little bit of a cushion. If I’d headed out with 3:50 I don’t believe I would have had the finish I did.
We took some pictures and I headed off for Washington Park with all the goodies. The free beer… free BBQ… etc.
THIS CONCLUDES PART 1. STAY TUNED FOR THE THRILLING CONCLUSION.
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