Monday, December 5, 2011

Leading the Way

Yesterday, I raced the DC Road Runners Club Bread Run 10K. A smaller club race with roughly 200 finishers, it was a nice run along MacArthur Boulevard in Glen Echo, Maryland, that returns along the C&O Canal. I had PR-ed in a 5K over a week ago in Branford, CT (18:34 a new PR by 46 seconds and good for 10th overall out of 700 and 3rd in my age group), and I wasn't really sure what I would have in me. I did decide to race it since I want to compete in my club's Snowball Series and need the points as I will only be able to run in five events - the maximum to number that count in the scoring. When the race began, my strategy was to run as close to 6:10 as I could and hold it for most of the race. I bolted up the small hill, and was surprised and a bit confused because I was actually leading a race! The best I had finished prior to this was fifth overall in a small club race, but at no point beyond the first few meters had I led a race of any sort or any distance. I run knowing that Franco Reyes, a fellow club member and nice guy, was in a pack behind me, so I did my best to focus on my breathing and pace. I ran thinking it would be great to say I led a race for the first mile. That first mile turned into a second mile in the lead, and I had visions of actually winning a race. Those dreams turned to reality where, after holding onto the lead for the first 2.5 miles, I came to a volunteer who directed me right on Ridge Road, but the course actually went left. Franco shouted out to me, and I joined him and another in the lead pack, losing only a few meters and seconds and my lead. For the next three miles, we were shoulder to shoulder along the C&O Canal. We chatted a bit, and I tried to through some surges, but each time he was able to match or surge ahead himself which I matched. Coming back on the trail and prior to the final ascent, I put on a quick kick that netted me maybe ten meters before that nasty hill just about 1K from the finish. That's the dirt trail that separates "the contenders from the pretenders." I had hoped to come up the hill with a small lead or at least close, but he regained himself quicker than I was able and pushed on to finish in first. If I could have stayed close, I hoped to out-kick him in the end, but I never had the chance. Settling in to second, I pushed forward with a secure lead as third and fourth were about 15-20 seconds back. The best I had done was fifth in the Metropolitan Branch Trail 5K in May of 2011, tenth in the Branford Rotary 5K in November of 2011, and twelfth in the Pocatello Marathon in September of 2011 in Idaho. Happy and content my with effort, I coasted in second overall - the highest I had ever finished a race! I still marvel at the progress I have made in running. My first race was a 4:10 Marine Corps Marathon in 2004. Today, I can say I am a 3:05 marathoner and Boston Qualyfier and have solid times in other distances. My next goals include a sub 3 hour marathon, finish Boston and re-qualify, and improve my times - just continue to race well! Photo 1 from Branford 5K; Photo 2 from DCRRC Bread Run 10K:

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