Monday, October 24, 2011

Miles of Memories 5k Run / 5k Walk/ 10k Run

Sponsored by Jersey Shore Hospital.  Held at Nippenose Valley Elementary School
Benefit Susan G Koman Foundation
I entered this race because a friend helped organize it, because it was held in my hometown area, and because my mother died from breast cancer.  I wore a pink t-shirt with a ribbon with Mom's name and 5 more ribbons with names for others who had breast cancer too.  These were for Rose's Aunt Kate, sister Carol, friends Ann and Erna, plus Dorothy the mother of my friend Brenda.  The shirt seemed too feminine for me but it was what I wanted to do to recognize these people.  The design was not so race friendly as I caught my fingers in the ribbon loops a number of times in the race.
The race was a week before the Marine Corps Marathon and I was in the middle of tapering for that race.  I felt I should be able to improve my PR for this distance, but the unknown factor was the unfamiliar and hilly course.  It seemed a 7:15 average pace should be possible.  My friend was in the know on who was signed up and had suggested I could win this race.  That is a strange thought for me and I worried I might end up in front and risk making a wrong turn.
All 3 races started at the same time, but the 10k start was about 50 or so yards ahead of the 5k start. We were all to start on the same signal, going in the same direction.
There were only 17 in the 10k.  One young 20-something guy looked to me like he was the runner to beat.  There were other older guys like me and 6 or 8 ladies.  I started out in the lead group of 4 on a slight downhill.  Just a minute or so into the race I thought the pace seemed pretty easy, "maybe I have a chance to try for a win".  Soon I checked my watch and realized the pace was too fast by about 45 seconds per mile and I dropped back in 4th.  About this time a young runner who I had not seen in our start area caught and passed me.  This runner soon passed all but the favorite I had picked to win.  Now I was in 5th.  So much for winning.
I decided to be patient, run my planned pace, and hope for the typical too fast start and later slow down by some of those ahead of me.  I passed one guy on a hill at about 1.5 miles.  Soon there was a turn where the 5k route split from the the 10k.  The young guy who had passed early in the race took the 5k turn so I was actually in 3rd place.
Maybe 100 yards ahead was the number 2 guy. It looked to me like he was struggling a little on the uphill but making up for it on the downhills.  I finally caught up to him about halfway and ran with him almost a half mile before moving on into 2nd place.  The course had the 5k participants coming the other way on this road so we got to look into their faces for a while.  I briefly saw the number one guy as he seemed almost a half mile ahead.  Soon I came to another uphill section and could not take the shortest line on the curve because the walkers were on that side.  By the top of this hill I was breathing quite loudly but was beyond the 4 mile mark where I wanted to start pushing my pace.  The following downhill let my breathing return to something less desperate.  I tried listening for footsteps hoping no one would come up to challenge me for 2nd.  Eventually the final turn approached and my watch showed 5.68 miles.  If the course was accurate I had just over a half mile to go.
This section was on a somewhat busy road and I was running on the 3 foot wide shoulder facing traffic.  This was retracing the start which meant something of an uphill.  As I neared the top of this section I could see the school and realized the course was long - maybe by a quarter mile.  For now I just kept pushing and was breathing desperately again, seeing a 6:50 something pace when I checked my watch.  Finally I reached the school entrance and the final 50ish yards to the finish line.  I saw some walkers coming the other way making the turn into the same driveway.  Rose was waiting 20 yards before the finish and snapped a picture while I pushed even harder.  Happily I was racing only the clock.
My finish time was 46:44 a little slower than my best at 10k, but my watch showed this course at 6.42 miles, average pace of 7:18. 
I finished about 2 minutes behind the winner and 45 seconds ahead of #3.  I found out the winner is the 24 year old son of one of my high school classmates.
There were probably 75 walkers and maybe 30 5k runners.  I understand they expected to be able to send $1000 from this event for breast cancer research.  Before the race started there was a talk by a local cancer survivor and after the awards a representative of the Komen Foundation spoke.

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