I was looking forward to running Sunset Classic 5 miler. Besides that hill just after mile 1 (and this is a bona fide HILL), the rest of the course is pretty benign. I needed a 500 pt Category II race to complete my scorecard for the Series, so this was perfect.
Prior to the start Tom Fleming was introduced to us and his running background shared. Tom himself, did not say much. Tom used to be the RD of the Sunset Classic. He also won the NYC marathon in 1973 and 1975 and was also the runner up at Boston twice, amongst many other running accomplishments. He lived in Bloomfield in his prime and he is a local legend. The last legend I met at the Sunset Classic was Bill Rodgers. He was such a sweet guy. I always go back to the Sunset secretly hoping to see Bill Rodgers again. :)
Soon we were off. I knew I wanted a fast start because the hill was going to kill my pace. It was not incredibly long, but it was steep and tiring. I settle into a 6:30 pace and feel that is just about right for now.
A few minutes into mile 1, Beau comes up on my side. Beau, one of the fastest runners on our team, should not be running with me. I see him and say "OMG, what are YOU doing?"(thinking maybe something was wrong). Then I wonder if maybe I am running WAY too fast and say "Oh Wait, What I AM I doing?" (and then I check my garmin for pace and see it read 6:29)... Then I say "No, I am ok, are you ok?" The only thing Beau says is "Have you run this before?" I say, "Yes" and he says "So you know about the Hill?" I say "Yep" and he says "Ok" as he pulls away slowly. Apparently my strategy of banking time before the hill was the opposite of Beau's of conserving energy for it. The world made sense again and I watched Beau fade off into the crowd.
We then hit the Mile 1 clock which reads, "6:08" and now I convinced my Garmin is broken and I was really running way too fast and that is why Beau passed me when he did. However, a glance down at my Garmin after I split it shows the marker was short at .94 (giving me an average pace of 6:31 for that mile). Ok, that works. M1- 6:31 is fine.
Now to focus on the uphill. Shortly into the hill, I see my pace fade into the 7's but I am ok with that. I pass some people but I am sucking wind. Humidity does not makes hills feel good. I pass a female and I know I am in 4th place now. I hope to settle into a good rhythm and save something for the finish, hoping maybe to reel in 3rd place.
As I crest the top of the hill, I glance down at my watch to see how far into mile 2 we were and read 0.94. Ugh! I hit Stop instead of Lap. Rookie mistake! It is not like I just got this watch!
Well, it really doesnt make a difference because the instantaneous pace is still working and I usually dont review my splits until after the race anyway. I may glance at my watch during races to see what I a doing, but I usually do not run to hit some pre-determined time. I focus on those running around me and try to make an effort to run hard but under control. I see the next clock and start my watch there. M2 Clock-13:10
What? 13:10?... that is 7:02 from the Mile 1 clock? Wow, that hill kicked my butt! (Later Beau tells me that Mile 1 was short while Mile 2 made up the slack by being long).
I end up running almost the entire middle of the race with a small pack of guys, with all of us taking turns leading. It was a lot of fun! The watch fiasco, although not really that important, only acted to make me feel uncertain about how well I was racing. I decide to forget the clocks or the time. I hit mile 3 and split my watch. I dont even look at the clock or my watch. I just run. M3 - 6:44
I try to run a strong mile 4 while having something to drop in mile 5. I am no where near the top 3 ladies anymore. I can't see them as we roll and turn through the neighborhood streets. We hit a slight incline in this mile, but I keep thinking about running a Fast Last mile! I see the one mile clock on the way in across the street, realizing that it is actually the official 4 mile clock. I split my watch but I don't look at the time. M4 - 6:49
I can see a woman in pink in the distance, but I just don't think I have enough speed or enough time to catch her. Soon we are directed into Foley Field for our final lap.
OMG, the track is amazing. The cushy spring of this track just makes me want to sprint. I have no idea if any ladies are behind me. When I had opportunity to see those close behind, I did not see any women, but you never know. I hear breathing behind me. I know someone is trying to run me down. I see the girl in pink on the back stretch as I round the first turn toward the back stretch. I am moving faster than her. I dont think I have enough time, but I dont want the guy behind me to pass me so I kick. The track is responding back, almost encouraging me, all of us, to run FASTER!, so I do. So does the guy behind me. I am pulling up on the girl, but as I start off the final straightway, she is almost done. I cant take her. But I don't get passed either which for me is small victory. I see the finish line clock just turning over to 33:00. I come across in about 33:15... M5 - 6:35.
I happen to see Beau again (he is just everywhere I am today!) and check in. He tells me the finish clock is wrong. What? Which direction? He says he has a watch time of 40-ish seconds slower. Oh, man, really? My Garmin is off a mile but when I add 7 minutes watch time I get a time about 45 seconds slower than the finish line clock.
I find Jim O. I ask him to cool down with me. We run 2 easy miles around the cushy track and gorgeous new football field lit up by the lights since it was now dark. It simply looked surreal, like we were in a movie.
Official Time: 34:00
Overall Place: 45 out of 531
Gender: 4 out of 199
Age Division: 1st
Award: $25 gift card (to be retrieved later).
Jim and I cool down while waiting for the awards. As soon as I hit stop on my watch, it starts to rain. It then rains so hard that all the runners hide under the few canopies still set up to wait it out. It is a deluge. There is some lightning. We are all in a field. Oh boy. An announcement gets made that no awards would be given out. CCR plays "Who'll Stop the Rain" (which I always hear in my head as Who'll stop Lorraine, as I am reminded of a lady I once worked for). The rain slows up and I safely jog back to my car.