What an awesome way to spend a perfect November day in Atlanta.
I can’t begin to tell you how awesome the weather was. Just amazing. It’s days like this that remind me why I moved South from New Jersey. I loved Jersey, but it’s hard to top days like this.
The race was cool. Just a small local gathering at One Step at a Time — a little mom-and-pop running store — in Decatur. As I said in my previous post, I had planned to have fun, but suspected that I would get competitive when the race started. Sure enough, dude says “GO!” and I start sizing up the field. There are a couple guys I KNOW I would never beat. They look like gazelles just standing still. They are off in the distance in a hurry!
I focus on getting some space at the start, we make the first turn, and it’s a BIG hill. I’m glad this hill came early rather than late. The course was pretty cool. We ran through a beautiful tree-lined neighborhood and a little park. There was a bit of traffic at times, but not too bad.
As the race goes on, there’s one guy (he was in his early 40s I would guess) that keeps passing me on the downhills (which I have learned to take slow due to my shin splints). I then pass him every time on the uphill sections. Ha!
There are no mile markers on the course, so I’m not exactly sure where the finish is. Because of this, I decide that I won’t start my kick until I can clearly see the finish. When he kicks it into another gear as we get within 1/4 mile of the finish, I joke with him “hey, slow down, come back here!”
At this point of the race, it’s just him and I. The leaders are way ahead. There’s one other guy behind me. (a tall, younger African-American kid that I just KNOW will dust us at the line. He’s just waiting it out, so he doesn’t really count. He’s on a whole different level from me and the other guy. At least that what I tell myself.)
My main challenger laughs when I tell him to slow down, but it is I who will have the last laugh. I know he has gone too early. I keep him close, but drop back far enough where I know he can’t see my shadow next to him. As we crest one last hill, I spot the finish line. He starts to try to go faster, but is out of gas! I start my kick about 200 yards from the finish and leave him behind.
Just as I start to feel good about myself. The tall kid behind me, flies by with an effortless, LONG running stride and beats me to the line. I later found out that he was second (or third, maybe) in the 25-29 age group, so that makes me feel better.
When I finish, I only see about a dozen runners standing around. Wow, I think. Cool. I might have finished in the top 20! Sure enough, I was 15th and 2nd in my age group. I got beat by another 38-year-old guy, who clocked 19:56. I was 21:04.
Anne and I hang around long enough for me to get my first-ever running “award.” It’s a small little wooden plaque. I feel like a little kid when I walk up to get it.
What a great way to start the weekend. I quickly decide that I like 5Ks! I don’t think I would be able to be as competitive in a 10k, but I knew that over 3.1 miles, I could let it all hang out and go my hardest. Fun.
It’s time to start searching for some more local 5ks…
And huge congrats to Anne for her race. She did great. It was fun to have some company with me for a change… We vow to do it again some time.