I surprised myself and came within 4 seconds of a PR, finishing in 40:36. On an age-graded scale considering all distances, this comes in as my 5th best race.
DID YOU WIN?
I came in 15th place out of 324 runners overall, finished 15th of 152 men and was 3rd of 20 in my age group (only 6 seconds out of 2nd).
HOW'D THAT HAPPEN?
As I said before the race, I was less focused on running well than on seeing some other friends who were running. The Saturday before, I had tried doing some faster running with one of my clubs; I got through about a mile and a half and my heart was about to explode. So with low expectations, I just set off running until I couldn't take any more.
The 5K and 10K started together, with my group reaching a turnaround about two-thirds of a mile in. I counted about 25 folks in front of me, most of them looking like the high school cross country types who usually rule this race. I was still in passing mode after starting a little bit off the line, and a few cheers from friends going the other direction spurred me on.
The runners in front of me started spreading out, but every so often I approached another one who'd gone out too fast and reeled him in. This kept my eyes off my watch, which was a good thing since it would have told me that I, too, was slowing. I caught a peek at mile 3 and so I made it a point to keep checking until the 5K mark, which I passed in 20:01. At that point I knew my goal of a sub-43 was in hand.
Heading back up the trail around the 5-mile mark, I heard someone closing behind me. He passed me, I passed someone else, and so on the rest of the way. I didn't have a whole lot of kick in me but I wasn't totally dead at the finish either, so I was satisfied with my execution.
My friends are going to get tired of hearing me bring it up, but training in the heat is clearly doing great things for me. As a beginning runner I did all I could to stay out of the extreme heat. I would get up ridiculously early to get my long runs finished before the sun came up. But the last couple years, I've opted just to take the bull by the horns, diving into acclimatizing runs and getting used to the weather. Last year I ran a 15K PR at Too Hot to Handle, starting a pretty awesome string of races all the way through to the Houston Marathon. With a very important race (Queen City Marathon) just 9 weeks away, hopefully that kind of history will repeat this year.
6:18 pace last .25
OK, WHAT ABOUT THE REAL REASON WE ALL RUN, THE STUFF?
You get a shirt. If you finish in the top 3 of your age group, you get a medal:
Daily Double: Grandfather Mountain Marathon and Make It By Midnight Marathon, July 13.