Lancaster YWCA Race Against Racism 5k Race Report
Generally speaking, 36-year-old men shouldn’t do more than 1 race per week. Or rather, this one shouldn’t. But since I agreed to help set up for this year’s YWCA Race Against Racism – which meant I’d be at the course on a relatively early Saturday morning, I figured, “Why not?”
Going into the race (a 5k), I’d set a goal of sub 21:00, with a stretch goal of 20:45. Hitting this would raise my VDOT to 47, continuing my trend of VDOT improvement of 1/month for the past several months. All of that being said, I knew I needed to be flexible with my goal because a. I’d finished the triathlon six days prior, b. I’d done a hard workout 48 hours prior and c. I’d gotten up a 5am to help set up. Coupled with a 5 wake-up call for the tri last week, I knew I was tired.
Truth be told, I had a secondary goal, too for this race. A guy I work with had out-kicked me last time we did a 5k together and I wanted a little revenge. I intended to get it by going out hard because I’ve never had a kick so the only logical strategy was to take his away.
This was a big race – though partially because it was a run/walk, with everyone lining up together – close to 2000 in all. I knew my goal time meant I’d likely finish top 60, so I tried to get close to the start, but still think I was lined up around 120.
The bell was rung and off we went. The course is a fast start, a gentle downhill for the first mile. I felt good so I went out hard and was still feeling good when I went through the mile in 6:12.
Six weeks ago, I’d done a quick first mile in a 4 mile race, and had faded badly in the second mile. I’d made it a point not to do that here and turned in a fairly strong second mile of 6:37. From there, it was a matter of just hanging on, as the first mile’s gentle downhill became a real pain in the butt uphill. In the end, I finished at 20:47, good for 58th place overall (age group results haven’t been posted, yet).
This is nearly two minutes faster than my last 5k, run last December, so I’m pretty pleased with the results.
But there were a couple of other neat things that happened in the race, too:
1.) Our team from work ran really well, with lots of PR’s all-around. A couple of guys used the race to complete a c25k program and 1 of our ladies won her age group, and another woman ran her first race ever! Awesome!
2.) I finished right behind the kid who won the Under 14 age-group. He must’ve been around 12 or 13. Anyhow, I’ve been beaten by kids before, but they’re usually genetic freaks (I mean this in a good way.). They’re just fast, but it comes so easy to them that there’s no way to know if they appreciate the skill well enough to continue with it. I gotta hunch this kid is different, though. He wasn’t just fast: he was hurting to be fast. Running in a lot of pain – determined to get the most out of his body. Awesome to see.
3.) Before the race, I bumped into Connie Buckwalter. Connie’s a bit of a local legend on the running scene. She’s won some great races through the years and I’ve watched her career with great admiration. But Connie and I go waaay back before that, as we both competed on the same high school team. Over the past 16 years, we hadn’t spoken at all, mainly because she’s been running races and I’ve been raising kids and growing a beer belly. At any rate, before the race Connie recognized me and we spent a few minutes talking. I also went to high school with her husband (an awesome triathlete and runner in his own right) and Connie mentioned she’d seen my results from last week’s tri. We took a few minutes to catch up with a one another – Connie’s recovering from knee surgery but hopes to be back on the roads before too long. She wondered if I was just getting back into things and I brought her up to speed with my “comeback”.
If the story ended there, it would’ve still been a good story, but it doesn’t. As mentioned, the start of the race was a gentle downhill, running for about three blocks before it took a hard left. People that know running would be watching from this corner. A few hundred meters into the race, they’d be able to see the front pack forming and making its first hard turn. As I made my way into the corner, I actually heard Connie cheering for me. It was very very cool! My family attends some of my races and those cheers are always awesome, but this was a little different… It was a runner cheering for another runner. For a moment, I felt younger, faster – like nothing mattered besides this race. For the minute, I wasn’t about my mortgage, my job or anything else – I was all about running faster. And – for at least the next two miles – I did.