Saturday, May 2, 2015

2015 DBacks Race Against Cancer

The thing I hate most about race day is the early start time especially this time of year but it's a necessary evil. So with the 4am buzzing (and after a couple snoozes) I was out of bed. Christine was already up showered and had coffee going since she couldn't sleep due to pre-race nerves. This was good because it meant we would be out the door and in town with enough time to get our packets and do what we had to do. Good thing too because I was having some GI issues on the way in.

With the crisis averted and packets picked up we had plenty of time to get in a good warmup as well as a 1 mile shakeout run for me. Not only did it help me to loosen up but since the last half was on the course I knew what the conditions were going to be like; hot, humid (by AZ standards), sun in my face and a headwind for the last mile + to the finish. Good thing I brought my visor.

After last year's early start I made sure to be prepared this time around and with no music or phone to dick with, I was ready when the race started a few minutes before the scheduled 7:30 start time.

When the horn sounded I was off but tried not to get too caught up in the waves of runners who were blowing by me even though I had gone out a bit faster than the 6:25 pace I was shooting for. That's alright because many of them I saw sooner rather than later.

Still I had gone out too fast according to my Garmin but I felt good at the 1 mile mark and when I saw the 6:24 time I was quite happy. Leading up to the race I knew that this was really faster than I should be attempting but since this was probably going to be my last 5K  for some time, I adopted a go big or go home mentality toward the race. It also didn't hurt that I heard Maiden's Die With Your Boots On on the way in.

I did make the decision to scale it back a bit but kept it around my goal time. I was doing pretty well but as we made the turn past the 1.5 mile mark, the heat and humidity began to take it's toll, not only on me but the other runners as well.

Even though I was passing some people I was starting to fade and was being passed myself. It was about at this point last year that I was in the same position physically but this year I was in a better place mentally. I also reminded myself of the quote I have on my monitor, "Pain is Inevitable - Suffering is Optional". There was no way I was going to quit like I did last year.

By now I was was running on every hard run I have ever had and embraced the suck. My mile 2 split was a respectable 6:46 but I was having trouble keeping it there and was now running closer to a 7 minute pace.

I was pretty much alone by this point so with less than a half mile to go I focused on a runner about a hundred feet ahead of me that I could tell was struggling worse than I was. I made it a mental game to catch him, which boosted my spirits, as well as my pace as I tracked him down and eventually passed him. By now the finish was in sight and I pushed myself on and crossed the line at 20:48 according to my watch.

After gathering myself together and grabbing a post-race banana I went to check my time but their computers were down. No big deal since I wanted to go back on the course and surprise Christine anyway.

I made my way about a quarter mile from the finish and found a good spot to hang out. While I waited I just chilled and cheered on runners since there was no crowd except at the start finish. I was so happy when I saw her coming in the distance and ran out to meet her and cheer her on. She was surprised to see me and I could tell she was fighting to maintain her good walking pace but she wanted to run for a bit as I urged her to press on. And press on she did.

Wanting to get a picture of her finishing strong I trotted ahead, snapped the picture and then gave her a big hug. So proud of my new runner. After she caught her breath, hydrated and had a banana we made our way over to the cable to get our official times. When they handed her the card with the time of 48:14, Christine was beaming as she had crushed her previous 5K time by 4 minutes.

Now it was the moment of truth for me. As my time of 20:46 was written on the card, he also wrote my age group "40-49". I held my breath hoping for a top 3 finish but my anticipation was crushed as he wrote "4th Place!". "Shit!, not again." was all I could muster having missed the podium for the second year in a row. At least this year I didn't quit. All that was left was to take our victory lap around Chase Field before we made the trek home.

So that puts my racing behind me for a while as I close out a month of speedwork and get back to focusing on the BQ.

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