Famous last words to my wife: "I think I could be in for something special at this Thursday's race." As the king of karma and creating bad juju and all those other superstitious labels, I regretted it the moment it came out of my mouth. In my head, it was the equivalent of saying "shutout" with three minutes to go in a hockey game.
Anyhow, I toed the line today, and I say this loosely, because I was one of 3,168 people this morning. A more accurate description would be, I was crammed into the masses. I'm used to the half mile or so of weaving and starts and stops, in a 5K but today was pretty rough. Trying to move to the outside to get onto the sidewalk, I missed my window and ended up taking a sharp, 90 degree turn to get out to the left shoulder (aka the lane of oncoming traffic) much to the chagrin of the police patrolling the race.
Mentally, I felt more comfortable out there but as the 1-mile marker slowly approached, I dreaded looking down at my watch seeing what kind of time I'd have to be making up. Before glancing down, I thought, "It's just a fun 5K. Go run your sub-20. Enjoy it. Your legs are a little banged up from the week. Kind of a sub-par warmup. Just cruise." Then I looked at my watch: 5:57. Ok, that would explain why I felt a little fatigued.
My friend and I drove the course yesterday after picking up our packets to get a handle on the hills. This proved a wise decision since you could barely see 75 meters ahead of the fog that rolled in overnight. Now we knew when they'd be coming. Mile 1-2 also became the hilliest section of the race in terms of elevation gain. I called upon my weeks of hill striders and interval workouts and powered up and ahead of a lot of the field and made some ground back. Mile marker 2 came out of nowhere: 6:15. Contrary to the way I felt after Mile 1, I felt some juice in my legs still and thought I had a better mile in me still. So, the stride got a little longer, the turnover got a little faster, and the pipes opened up.
With the fog, I couldn't see the finish line but could hear the announcer. I feared that I'd go into my final kick and that voice wouldn't get any closer. That's when I saw the crowd of people lining the shoulder and knew I had to be close. I threw the hammer down and sprinted to the finish.
I caught the 8 as last number on my watch (my shirt covered the rest of it) and thought 18:58. A smile crossed my face, happy to have broken 19. After ensuring I wasn't going to throw up, I took a peek at my watch and....18:28! I chuckled and then thought, "Did they measure the course right?"
Final stats: 29/3,168; 8/256 (19-29); 18:28/5:57 pace
If I had any doubts that this training program was working, they have since been wiped away. A 23 second PR will do that for you. After that first thought, my next one was, "Let's go eat some turkey!" And it's with that that I conclude this Turkey Day post.
Hoping everyone has a happy Thanksgiving and successful Turkey Trots today!