This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
On June 2nd I raced in the Silver Lining 5K for the Boys and Girls Club of Washington County. My wife and children came to this race with me. I love having them at the races in which I participate. As always, I get a bit anxious before a race but the pre race warm-up always settles that issue. I was anxious because I had spent seven of the last eleven days with an injury and not running. Coach Hill told me that any lost physicality should be made up for in the rest that my legs had gotten. I was trying to keep that in mind.
Check-in was a breeze, I got my race bib pinned on and headed over to the van to drop of the race packet. I was sizing up some of the competition as I walked through the area. I saw a few I knew would beat me (including and especially Ruffalo) but I was feeling good. I headed off for the pre-race warm-up and was feeling loose and relaxed. I warmed up about two miles at an eight minute per mile pace. Then I did some light stretching, especially in my calves down to the Achilles’ tendons, which is where I had my recent issues. I then did three strides trying to hit 9.6 MPH (around the pace I wanted to run the first mile) and I did ok – got a feel for the pace.
We lined up for the race and in a couple of minutes – we were off and running. The course starts uphill (into the wind which was quite noticeable) and curves slowly to the north. Ruffalo and about 30 others were ahead of me at the 1/4-mile mark I checked my Garmin and I was going out too fast, I was at 10.6 MPH – oops. I backed off a bit and was suddenly hit with the worst dry-mouth I had ever experienced. I could hardly open my mouth it was so dry and sticky. I thought I was done at that point – just on my way to the half-mile point. I tried to get saliva into my mouth and keep it there without swallowing – breathing through my nose alone. This slowed me down a bit but by the 3/4 mile point cured the dry mouth issue.
I hit the one-mile mark in 6:15. Somehow, I managed to hit the pace I wanted for the first mile. This is a hilly course and can be punishing so I worked my way up through people who were either not ready for the course or went out to fast. I tried to work the course to my advantage slowly picking people off one by one. I was struggling through the 2nd mile, with the thought of throwing in the towel, but worked through a number of people. I hit the second mile in 12:36 and I knew I had to somehow pick it back up and keep passing people. I noticed at about the 2.3-mile point I was clearly separated from the chase pack and was the trailing member of the lead pack. This was a bad mental thought to have.
I tried to reel in the guy in front of me and I slowly caught him and passed him then someone else caught me and I recognized him as the guy that beat me in my age group last year. I made the comment "there goes my age group win" and he stated he would be willing to tie. I told him; if you can beat me, beat me. I wanted to earn whatever award I could earn. Little did we realize someone else in our age group was way ahead of us. He then moved on ahead and I worked hard to keep the ground I had on anyone behind me. I was thinking that since this is chip timed the guy behind me might actually be on a shorter chip time than me so I worked that last .125 miles hard, it was uphill and into the wind but hey, everyone would have that same finish so I told myself "gut it out." I ran that .125 miles as best I could.
I did not PR and I did not win my age group. I dropped to third in my age group but I did move up to 14th overall. Only one person older than me beat me and I beat plenty of younger people. As I reflect on that race; given the conditions, my recent injury with off time, I am content with the outcome.
However, I am not done yet . . .