When I got up on Saturday morning, a few minutes before 5 a.m., it didn't seem like race day. I got on my computer and did some work, then made muffins like I do every Saturday morning. Just before 7, though, it started to feel like a race was forthcoming, which it was. I went and got my clothes on, made a playlist on my phone and started to mentally prepare. Since I had challenged Danny to the 5K, my intention was to beat him. Thus, my nerves were on high, thinking about both the prospect of a race and having to fare well and finish ahead of my younger brother.
An added bonus: Mrs. LB and the girls were going with me, so I had the added motivation to show well for them.
We got to the hospital that was putting on the 5K, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, and the line of cars was massive. We spent about 10-15 minutes looking for a parking spot, which cut into my warm-up time. I'd intended on running for about 10 minutes to get my legs moving and my heart rate up, but by the time we checked in and got our race bibs, we had some 20 minutes before the start of the race.
Not only was my younger brother Danny running the race but our youngest brother Jesse was running too. Jesse is not a runner necessarily but he did Rangar Relay with us last fall.
After a quick bathroom break (we went into the actual hospital to use the bathroom as the porta-potties - aka Honey Bucket - line was way too long), Jesse and I warmed up, running probably a total of a half-mile, about a half-mile less than I'd intended on running.
Still, there was precious little time left and we had to cut it short. We went back to the start line and saw Danny, so the three of us got into the massive crowd and made our way as close to the front as possible.
I'm not sure you can do this.
I had some nerves in my stomach. The ever-present doubt filled my head, and I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could have chewed. Danny looked ready to run a good race, and I didn't know if I would be fast enough. But there was only one way to find out.
The race started, and for the first portion I had to play Dodge The People. Women pushing strollers, small children, walkers and slower runners all tried to stand in between me and personal glory. I could see Danny up ahead, running along effortlessly with few obstacles in his path while I tried (unsuccessfully) to avoid tripping people. We rounded the first corner and Danny was ahead of me.
It's early still, so don't worry.
I was in close pursuit, trying to ignore Danny and focus on the race.
It was still quite crowded, and even though we were kind of close to the start line I was surprised how many people I had to get around during the first stretch of the race.
Somewhere up ahead was Danny.
I saw Danny up ahead and wondered briefly about whether I should stay behind. I figured my best strategy would be to stay behind him for a bit and maybe force him to run faster than he should be running. Then, I'd overtake him after about two miles and he wouldn't have the energy to reach me.
Instead, I figured that I would throw him off by running in front of him. I got past him, figuring he'd seen the guy in the pink shirt lumbering in front. The course spilled us out onto residential streets and we quickly zoomed downhill.
I was going fast. I knew I was going faster than I normally run but I didn't want to keep looking down at The Garmin. I just figured it would be best to keep running at the speed I was running, and assumed Danny was right behind me. I did not want to stop and turn around, nor did I turn around too much, but when I glanced back I didn't see much.
The first mile came and went, and I hit the "Lap" button on The Garmin. It shot a 7:10 at me.
Yeah, but can you keep it up?
I was running fast, a lot quicker than I usually do during my training runs. Heck, I haven't hit 7:10 running downhill on Mt. Rubidoux. I wondered if I'd hit the wall soon.
stomp stomp, stomp stomp... that's Danny.
Danny had a dark-colored shirt on, and every now and then I'd try and sneak a peek behind me. I'd see dark-colored shirts but couldn't tell if it was Danny. Still, no matter when I heard footsteps, I expect to see a hard-charging Danny breathing down my neck.
I pushed myself. Had to. Didn't have a choice. I am so used to running 10, 12, 15 miles that three miles to me is nothing. So of course I had to give everything I had, and wanted to leave everything I had on the streets of Colton.
Mile 2, 7:11... dang! That's consistency!
I felt great. My legs were pushing me forward and I was doing all I could to keep my pace. It also helped me hat Danny was right behind me... well, I wasn't sure if he was, but I didn't want to take the chance. I didn't want to relax and then have Danny zoom past me.
Since I had The Polar working, I knew I had some gas left in the tank. It was straddling the mid-170s, and I knew that if need be I could hit the gas and get to my top gear if Danny did come up from behind.
The course was meandering back towards the hospital but there were two small inclines. I figured these would help me because they could slow Danny... since he was right behind me.
I came up around the bend, saw my sister-in-law and wondered about asking her if Danny was close behind me or not. I didn't, and kept assuming he was.
Oh look, there they are!
Mrs. LB and the girls were situated on a grassy spot just around the course. The girls looked excited and Mrs. LB gave me a loud, enthusiastic cheer.
There was nothing left to do at this point but to hit the gas.
I could feel the energy leaving my body, knew I was near the end and knew that I had about as much energy to get me to the finish line, and no further. I half-expected to see Danny charging past me, so I tried to run as fast as I could. There was no way I was going to lose the 5K in the final steps.
We reached the finish line and I almost couldn't believe the clock. It shot 23:09 past me when I got to the finish and finally allowed my legs to relax. I breathed loudly, almost painfully, as I tried to reel my heart rate in (it'd gotten into the low 190s, quite high) and I took a few breaths before I finally started to feel relaxed.
There was no sign of Danny. As I exited the finishing chute, though, I saw him. He was just coming in, and I smiled. I was satisfied with my performance, thrilled that I'd beaten him and surprised by my time. Mostly, though, I felt once more that I was doing thing the right way, training the right way, approaching each run the right way, and focusing on everything I needed to focus on. After all, there was no way I could have taken nearly two minutes off my only other 5K time without it.
I tried not to rub Danny's face in the dirt but I did have to brag a little bit.
I reveled in my victory and walked over to the results board. We found Jesse, then Mrs. LB and the girls, and recovered briefly. The first page of results was up, and the winner had done the 5K in about 16 minutes. The last person on the first page had finished in about 22 minutes so I figured I was coming up on the next page. But impatience got the best of us and we left. I wondered if I should count the time as 23:09 or what The Garmin read, 23:02, since I'd started it as soon as I crossed the start line.
Later that night, I got an e-mail from my blog/Loper buddy Angie. She said her mom was at the race and heard my name called during the awards ceremony. Apparently, I'd finished second in my age category and I would have gotten a medal had we waited. I was instantly upset with myself for not having stayed longer but then I was happy that I had placed so high. I may contact the hospital that put the race on to see if I can get my medal. If not, that's fine. I ran one of my best races ever, and I'll be able to draw strength from it for a while, medal or not.
**Special thanks to Mrs. LB and my SIL (Danny's wife) for taking along their cameras and capturing some of the day's moments.**