This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
Race day – looking for a personal record (PR) – likely ready for that PR. Running the Run/Walk to Irish Fest 5K. Had trouble getting to the starting area but I had built in a good deal of extra time – always do. Then I had parking issues – the QPS parking lot machine wouldn’t accept any cards, only cash and did not give any change. So, I left and found a free street parking location – two hour parking – plenty of time to leave before two hours.
I checked in for the race and pinned the race bib (with timing chip) on to my Hillrunner shirt. I got myself in a relaxed mood, hit the port-a-potty and then started on a two-mile warm-up run. It was very warm out there and 100% sunny. I kept it easy at about an 8:30 per mile pace. At the end of the warm-up I was drenched with sweat – it was dripping from me! I was thinking that this may be a tough race to PR after all. I did some light stretching staying loose and relaxed (in the shade.)
Started to line-up for the start – there was some sort of system to get people to line-up appropriately but it was not announced or made obvious. I saw Andy Ruffalo and made sure to wish him luck and to race well – kinda silly since he is a great runner and racer but I did so anyway. I also noticed a race bandit right next to me a lady with black and grey hair in a pony tail and a purple shirt. That peeved me a bit as nearly everyone else paid for the race and she was going to benefit off us.
Then we all heard a whispery "ready, set, go" most of us could not tell that was the start of the race but by two seconds – we all knew to get going. I started out strong keeping an eye on the Garmin – I did not want to get out too fast. I held a good pace through the first half mile while working my way around some folks going a hair slower than I was. Hit mile one in 6:08 and was feeling good, on pace for a strong PR. During that first mile as we ran along the lakefront right next to the Art Museum a lady was kinda trapped against the rail at the lake and she kept "oh my God, this is so cool" over and over again as a fast, thick crowed of runners was blasting past her. The next half mile I worked my way through a couple of runners and was still on pace although a bit slowed running that half mile in 3:09. I picked up the pace a hair to get back on track for that PR.
Then it ended. Less than a quarter mile later a muscle in my lower back just seized up quite painfully. I immediately pulled off to the left out of traffic before slowing down and made my way to a picnic table. I shut off my Garmin and I sat there for a minute or two trying to stretch and massage that area. I was not going to end up a DNF (did not finish) so I started walking and then jogging the course. I was embarrassed and disgusted about how I was running and took off my Hillrunner shirt – I did not want anyone seeing that name with how I was running.
Coming into the last quarter mile were a couple of boys not older than 10! I gave them encouraging words and one of the boys took off with a great kick towards the finish line. I kept telling the other one to "go get him" but I think he was done and just eyeing the finish line. I started to accelerate a tiny bit being mindful of how my back felt. I didn’t even look at the time clock as I crossed the line – just did some more light stretching and massaging of my back and drank some water.
I did not look at results until today. 78 out of 800 and 7th out of 75 in my age group. Both put me in the top 10% of each category but I had a terrible day. I was on pace to make 17th overall and 2nd in my age group. I know what I am capable of now if race day is "my day."