Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sometimes we all need a little redemption

Ok, it was only a local 5k, but after last month's Age Group National Championships, I really felt unsatisfied with my run.

In my race report I talked a bit about how I had a great swim and bike, but I didn't feel as though my run was up to par.

Being a runner, I almost had this feeling of needing to validate my abilities. In some weird way I needed to show myself that I can go out and still run a 6 minute pace if I wanted to.

So, I decided to jump into a local 5k in Dewey Beach, Delaware while my wife and I were over in the area for the weekend visiting family. Sure it was a relatively small race with only about 325 people, but it was a perfect redemption race. Not to mention, a solid race would put my mind in a better place going into a half Ironman relay I'm doing next weekend (I'm doing the run leg).


I toed the line with a couple decent looking runners. I knew I had a good chance of possibly winning the race, and my goal was to definitely finish in the top 3.

There was a bit of cloud cover, but that didn't cut back on the humidity. I did a 5k on a similar course last year, so I was somewhat familiar with the streets. And because you're at the beach that means one thing - FLAT! It was a simple out and back course that snaked through some of the local streets.

After a solid 10 minute warm-up, I was ready to go.

The gun went off and the front runners sprinted out. I went too. I needed to stay with the leaders.

In my head I break a 5k down into three basic stages - the first mile, second mile, and then the last 1.1 miles to the finish. My strategy for the race was basically to go out hard and stay within striking distance of the lead runners, settle in for the second mile, then give it everything on the final 1.1.

That first mile was fast! I went out and was where I wanted to be - about 5 yards behind two runners. I was by myself in third, but had a few runners trailing me not too far behind. We passed the first mile marker and I checked my watch - 5:37. Wow, that was fast. Hopefully not too fast where it would hurt me later in the race.

The lead runner kept pushing that pace and created a little bit of a distance between himself and the second place runner who I was still running just a few strides behind. We approached the only water station just before the turnaround. I noticed the runner in front of me start to slow down ever so slightly. I made my move. A little surge and I passed him right at the turn around and tried to steadily break away.

I was clear in second but had a lot of ground between myself and the leader. I could see him in the distance, but it was too much to overcome. I shifted my mind to securing second. Coming out of the turnaround I could see there were a few runners not too far behind, maybe 10-15 seconds. My focus heading back towards the finish was to make sure those numbers increased and didn't decrease (or at least stayed the same).

After about a half mile I lost the lead runner ahead of me (who ended up winning, and not to mention is 15 years old!!). I passed the second mile marker and at that point I simply went as hard as I could. That last mile went pretty quickly. There wasn't much to it. No other runners around me. A couple glances over my shoulder to make sure no one caught me, and I soon approached the final 1/4 mile.

I passed a number of spectators who gathered at the final turn. I heard a few loud cheers from across the street coming from my parents, and then it was the final block-long kick to the finish. In the distance I could see my wife standing next to the finish line. That gave me the last jolt of energy I needed to cruise to the finish line. I came in about 10 seconds ahead of the third place finisher.

Final time - 18 minutes 51 seconds. Good for my first podium!

That's what I call redemption.

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