Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unknown speed

For the last few years, my times at races have been slowly slowing. Part of that is to blame on no speed work, part is on my running longer runs and part is probably on getting older. But I have not been running very quickly or at least not as quickly as I used to. Especially in the shorter races. I have tended to shy away from road races in favor of the trails. I get so much enjoyment out of getting into the woods, away from the noise of people and vehicles. But I still do some of the local road races, mostly to keep in touch with people who I have met at those races. I went to the Pearl Harbor Day Masters run this past Sunday. I had already decided that I would do no more races this year when I remembered about this race. So last week I hunted down an application at Waterford's Community Center and signed up. Sunday morning was cold and windy, but I have been waiting for the weather to change and actually look forward to the cold weather. The race time was 11 am. I arrived at 10:30, got my number and t-shirt and headed out for a small warm up. I was trying to decide on whether or not to wear a windbreaker during the race. The wind was cold, but ultimately I decided that the shirt I was wearing was enough.
With my recent history of running slower I have been starting toward the back of the pack at race starts. Sunday I started near the front so that as the pack started to string out there was maybe fifteen people ahead of me. I felt great, but I knew that it was faster than I have been running. I thought about it while maintaining my pace and decided that I would just keep on going until I fell apart. I was surprised when I caught up with the first woman, who called out that we did the first mile in 6:38. I am not sure how she knew where the first mile was as there was no mile markers that I could see. That was the last I would see of her, surprising me since I rarely finish in front of the first woman. Up Boston Post Road we ran, powering up the hill. I crested the hill running with Todd Fisher, whom I had not met before, and staying with him down the small slope to Oswegatchie Road where we took a left. I stayed with Todd for a while, but eventually he started to pull away. Just about half way down the road, he stopped to stretch his calf. I asked if he was all right as I went past and he replied that he was fine. At three quarters of the way down Oswegatchie, there is a stop sign and a race offical was there directing the runners to go straight. His truck was parked at the opposite stop sign and as I went past, noticed that there was a set of keys on the ground. I worried that some runner had lost them and one of the other runners would kick the keys under the truck and not be seen, so I stopped, ran back a couple of steps and yelled to the official that there were keys on the ground. As soon as I saw that he was reacting to that, I turned back and started to run again. Todd had been right behind me and went by and another guy also passed me. The other guy was also someone who I had never met before, but he amazed me. I found out later that his name is Dave. He does not look like your typical runner, especially one who was running at the pace we were. He had a belly and looked slightly out of shape, but he was running very well.
Getting started again was tough. I had been in a really good groove and it took a bit to start to feel good again. I ran through the neighborhood with someone on my heels. He stayed there as we came off of Oswegatchie and onto River Road. As soon as we took the left onto River Road, the wind hit us right in the face. The guy that was following me tucked in behind me and was content to let me be his wind break. We took a right onto Boston Post Road and headed back up to the the finish line. The guy behind me takes the opportunity to pass me here and I find out that it was Dave Jacobs in his normal green shorts. As he started to pull away from me I decided to try to stick with him. Now this race has a nasty little hill at the end; it does not look like much but after running almost five miles, it can be a killer. The good thing this year was that the wind was mostly at out backs. Halfway up the hill Dave Jacobs passed the other Dave. A minute later so did I. As we crested the hill and headed across the intersection (thank you Waterford Police Department!) I felt good and started pushing toward the finish. Dave Jacobs had nothing left and I passed him about 100 yards from the finish. Of course, here is the thing about Dave. He is 64 years old and I believe that this was the first time that I have beaten him. Fantastic runner! So I finished the 5.2 mile race in 35:45, a 6:53/mile pace, 6th place overall and second in my age division. Not too shabby. It would be nice to be able to bottle that feeling. I could clean up.

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