Now onto the long version. The race started at Northside Forsyth hospital at 9am. I got there just after 8, parked the car and walked around with the family for a bit, looking at the big cement mixers parked at the start. Parking and registration were pretty well organized and there were a lot of people milling around. About 30 minutes before the start I did a half mile warm up. After warming up I said good bye to the family who got on busses to go to the finish and I joined the mass at the start line. I think I may have warmed up a little too early, but I don't think it was detrimental.
I lined up about 2/3's of the way back at the start and watched the mass start to run from front to back. I clicked the Garmin when I started running and off I went. The first part of the race was downhill so I let gravity help me along, feeling a good pace without pushing too hard. Of course, it was pretty fast but I wasn't pushing so I let it go. We hit the road between the hospital and the quarry and went up hill. I didn't push too hard but tried to keep comfortable on the uphill. I was passing people and being passed a bit too. We turned into the quarry and headed downhill into the quarry. I passed the 1 mile mark just as the Garmin beeped and I noted I ran the first mile in 10:45 A bit faster than I should have been, but I was feeling good.
The quarry road was gravel and I was trying to be careful not to hit any ruts. My ankles are kind of weak and I didn't want to hit any awkward footing. The hills were rolling and I tried to use the momentum to move downhill and not push too hard going up. I picked out a few people to try to pace off of and kept pushing. It was tough, especially going up hill but I was still feeling pretty well. I concentrated on form, midfoot striking and keeping moving. It was just past the halfway point that the leaders streaked by in the opposite direction. I walked for a few steps at the water table to throw down a few sips and dumped the rest on my back. I was still feeling strong but I knew I was at my limit and the last mile was going to be a struggle. I finished mile 2 in 10:53.
We hit the turnaround just before the last mile. It was a loop around some of the quarry equipment. I took a quick walk break up the steepest part of two hills during mile 3. Neither one was more than 20 seconds or so, but just enough to keep me under my limit. A couple of people passed me while I walked, but I caught most of them during my run. I was pacing with a few other people now, passing some folks I had seen earlier in the race. Plenty of walk breaks around me but I kept pushing through. I was at my limit but knew the end was near. The second walk break was about 2.6 miles in, and then I focused on getting through the last half mile. Up the hill and then down again to where I could see the finish. I didn't really care so much about the time, but I was pushing as hard as I could. I tried to smile at the camera and then finish hard to the line. I stopped the Garmin a couple of steps past the line and it froze on 33:56. Knowing that my previous 5K PR was 34:44, I was pretty happy.
As organized as the start was, the finish area was a bit of a disappointment. There was a big backup in the finishing chute where everyone was ripping of their tags to hand to the volunteers. One guy even jumped the line in front of me so when I see the official results I'll know I really finished in front of that guy! Then, once we were through that, they had placed the tents with water another 200 yards up the gravel path. I was hurting pretty bad at that point and just frustrated that I couldn't get a drink right away. My wife, daughters and my mother were there and giving me high fives, so I wasn't too mad.
All in all it was a fun time. I really wasn't expecting such a good time, but I think the work I've been doing lately has been paying off. I definitely need to do more hill work before the Peachtree, but I'm glad that I was able to do a 5K that averaged less that 11 minutes a mile.
Moments that stand out in my memory
- A mother and her 17 yo daughter at the start struggling to break open a package with a new pair of ear buds for mom to listen to her iphone on the course. They got it open about 30 seconds before the start.
- A guy in a Fred Flintstone outfit, complete with a bone club. He passed me after the first mile.
- Lots of high school runners really going well as the leaders passed. I also noticed the woman who won the last race I did go by near the head of the pack. Turns out she won again. She's the running partner of a good friend, so that was cool
- A kid wearing a storm trooper outfit. I came up to him in the last mile and he was walking. As I passed, I turned to him and said "This is not the walk you are looking for." He took off again saying "Thanks for the Jedi Mind Trick." Apparently my force isn't very strong, because he was walking again about 100 yards later and I finished well ahead of him
- A lot of parent child combinations out there running together. I really do hope that I get the chance to run with one or both of my girls as they grow up.
- It would be nice to see Weight Class results. I'd be willing to bet I'm near the top of the over 250 lbs weight class. The volunteer at the tent handing out XXL shirts said I was the first person to pick one up. So I have that going for me, which is nice.