Welcome to my job. I've had a workplace with windows only a couple of times. Enough to make people think I'm a vampire. Hey - people joke because I wear sunglasses when I'm outdoors; if they spent even half as long in the environments I've been in they'd be the same way.
I didn't schedule a practice Saturday because I knew some of the guys would want to run the St. John's Sunset 5K. I told everyone they were on their own for the day. I went to the Y and hit the rowing machine for 40min (original intent was to do 60min, but my butt couldn't take more than 40min on the seat!), then relaxed in front of the computer and read most of the afternoon. Suzanne came in at 3 after doing her days' errands and announced she wanted to run St. John's; she had two entry forms. This didn't sound good. I told her I was going to run, but as a Kenyan...she quashed that idea and chewed me out for even thinking about it. So, I pulled out my 'Kiwi black kit' and got suited up.
I've never run this race because the conditions have always sucked bilge - very warm and humid. My 2M warm-up didn't do a thing to allay my concerns. Rather than get aggressive and be on the line at the start, I decided to stand in the second row. I ended up elbowing a guy right at the start as I was trying to get out with the greyhounds (and there were a couple of them!). Kenny (the young guy I got at mile five last weekend) went out like he was shot out of a cannon; I figured I'd try to get up with him and hang on for as long as possible. At 800m I started to hear hard breathing and footsteps behind me. Off my left came a tall, fast guy - Gary Smith - he's a very good runner, but he's been off the radar for the past six months. I'm not used to seeing him back with me at the beginning of a race. Went through the first mile split at 5:30 and had a sneaking suspicion that one of two (maybe even both) things were going to happen: a) I was going to die, or b) I was going to run a good time. Normally, if I've gone out that hard at the first mile it becomes ugly fast. However, I was still seeing at least two of the four guys who were ahead of me, so I had someone to key off.
I hit each of the water stations like a man possessed - grab the cup/s and dump. As I hit 1.5 miles, I'm starting to see a runner I normally don't see ahead of me...and he's rigging badly. I caught him finally at the 2 mile point, where he gives the classic "good job, I'm just going easy from here" line. Bull$#!+. He was dying; he paid dearly for going out at a low-5:00 first mile.
After two, it's back on the winding road where the people are having their party on the front lawn...their cheering and ringing of the bell was fantastic. It also let me know how close the next guy was when I heard the bell again. I was in some good pain by this time, but it looked like I was gaining real estate on Kenny with every stride. I knew if I could get up with him by the bridge with a tenth to go it was going to be a "throw your head back and grit your teeth all of the way to the line" kind of finish. However, once we got to the end of the bridge I knew there was too little real estate to let me catch him. I hit the finish at 18:17, which is one of my fastest 5Ks in the past year. Fourth overall, second guy over 40...which makes me first in my age group. Not bad for a guy who's been focusing on 10K and longer this year.
The guy who won, Matt, must have decided before the race to not run this one easy with his wife, Jamie. He paced her to her 5K PR last weekend at Fiesta. Matt just got (re)married, and he looks very happy...not that his running has changed all that much. The kind of guy you love to see do well; very gracious and approachable.