Saturday I went down to Santa Clarita to run at my Alma Mater’s annual 5k race. The 5k is part road and part trail, beginning and ending on the school’s baseball field’s artificial turf outfield. It heads northeast from the school in a beautiful open area utilizing dirt roads and a meandering trail to make a loop. I ran the race once before two years ago in 2016 with a time of 23:36. In 2016 I finished 107th out of 190 runners, but 1st in my age group. I recall that Alan Brown was the only other HDR runner there that day.
When I checked in Saturday, it was not long before I noticed Tom Grady. He is not in my age group – he is older, but he has been on my heels all year! I barely beat him most of the summer XC races and he was 10 or so seconds behind me at the YMCA Turkey Trot. Then I spotted Cindy Hendrix, and then,,, uh, oh…. Brumwell… There went my chance at winning my age group.
Since I am training for Boston, running on the Hylands Legacy Team… @Hylands Powered, #Hylandspowered…. I decided to do a nice LONG warm up – I ran the entire race course. I got back and did my warm up routine. I noticed that there did not seem to be as many high school and college runners as were there before. The right side of the start line was wide open, and it was the shortest path! The right field foul line was the start line and the opening sprint heads to a gate in right center field headed perpendicular from the right field foul pole… so the farther out you started the shorter the path, yet most people gathered closer to the infield. Brumwell was right next to me.
They started the race and it did not take long for Steve to disappear. Desert Chrisitan Middle School (and HDR member) Brent was off like a shot as well. I like to take a tiny part of credit for Brent as sometime he trains with me on Tuesday evenings! My first lap, somewhat uphill and partly on dirt – was 7:12. I noticed one guy who looked like he could be my age go by. He had a really quick cadence so I tried to match him. When I did I found myself keeping up. Mile two, all dirt, sometimes sandy, but maybe 2/3 downhill was 7:13. In the 3rd mile I found myself gaining on the guy. A little more than a half mile to go, as we began our circle around the block, I got by him.
On the 2nd and 3rd sides of the block I caught a couple of guys, but I could hear one guy close behind. I figured it was the guy I had just passed. Half way up the 4th side of the block… maybe 300 – 350 to go the guy pulls up to my side. I glance up and it was Tom Grady… I thought to myself… not today… I knew that if I waited long he would out sprint me to the finish, so right then and there I surged…. I dropped to a 1 to 1 breath pattern, upped the cadence a bit, tried to engage my calves… sure enough I could feel myself pull ahead.
We rounded the corner through the gate and into the stadium… I figured I could catch my breath after I was done… I let all out… I saw the clock approaching 22 and just missed it at 22:03. Tom was a second behind me at 22:04! My 3rd mile ended up being a 7:04. The final .1 was run at 6:12 pace!
Later in the evening when I was telling my wife the story and I mentioned that I surged, she asked if anyone could tell! :-O She has a point, I myself would wonder if a spectator on the side would be able to say, wow, he started sprinting!
Turns out we had a nice HDR representation, and if there had been a team competition we would have won. Brent placed 2nd with a time of 17:50. He has become one speedy 8th grader… Clay, are you helping with DCHS XC next year? You are getting a good one! Steve Brumwell was 5th in 19:18. Alan Squyres 6th in 19:33, new member Brian Genter (age 48) 8th in 20:07 and Colin Culver (Hillview runner and HDR member) 11th in 20:32. I would have been our #6 runner finishing 25th place, with of course, Tom right behind me.
Besides the above mentioned runners we had the rest of the Culver family, Cindy Hendrix, Michelle Yanik, and Brent’s mom – Wanetta. Most of us gathered for a picture while waiting for awards…
As it turned out, Brent, Collin, Steve, Tom, Brian and Cindy all placed in their age groups. I had a good day, and a good time, but was 4th in my age group… tough crowd!
My official time of 22:03 is my new course record knocking more than 90s off of my time from 2 years ago. It was my fastest 5k since I ran Carlsbad in March of 2014 – almost 4 years ago!
The thing is, I am still in the mid to upper 170s.. I wonder how much faster I can get as I slim down!
Now, I did not mention this online yet, but I was quite a bit scared earlier in the week. After last Saturday’s 10k, I rested a couple of days. I got in a really good track workout (albeit, in the dark) Tuesday night. I did the Sweet 16 workout with the HIllview runners Wednesday…. during the sprints of the Sweet 16 I was trying to “hurdle” up from one court to the next… If you have not seen the basketball courts at Hillview, they are each on their own level. There is a little ramp of about 2 feet in elevation between each. We do the Sweet 16 drilling and running UP these courts. I usually place a foot on the incline as I sprint but I was trying to make it to the top… I think I strained my heel a bit. It was too sore to run or do anything Thursday but was WAY better by Friday.
It felt like an acute plantar fascitis – but was the opposite in that it did not hurt in the morning. By Saturday it felt fine. Sunday I got on my Elliptigo and rode 24 miles around west Palmdale. I had planned on a long trail run for Monday, but thought better of it…. At least that is my excuse….