By 720am, Boriana, Thomas, Michelle, Matt, Jay, Lauren, Meagan, Jordan, John and myself were all ready to warm up and pick up our chips two blocks away in front of CPCC. We ran parts of the course backwards and then just made our way back to my house, where we dropped off our trainers and switched into racing flats. John and I arrived at the start with about seven minutes to spare. I did a couple of strides and settled into the front of the race pack next to Val and all the fast guys.
As a way to signal our start, a small woman barely murmured “GO” and we were off, definitely without a bang. I settled myself a safe distance from guys that I know can beat me like Will Isenhour and Stephen Spada. I wanted to keep them within sight because I work out with Will and know what kind of fitness he is in. I had run this course about 3 times the week prior, and I felt familiar with the terrain. I saw Stephen Spada right in front of me and settled into a pack with about five other men. I saw Spada pat a baby jogger on her back and then he pushed a little harder and made a wider distance between the two of us. Megan Hovis was cheering everyone on, but I don’t think she could see me tucked in with all the guys. I went through the first mile in 5:42, but it felt like a 5:35 to me. To my right, Michelle Hazelton was screaming her lungs out for me, forcing me to smile. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see she was jumping up and down like a cheerleader so that made me forget about my slower than expected mile time.
The second mile boasted a nice downhill, followed by a slight incline with a grade of about 2%, so nothing too drastic. Will was about 10m in front of me, so I felt comfortable about my placement. I went through the second mile in 5:40.
The third mile featured the most turns and the best downhill. Once I turned right onto Elizabeth, about 800m from the finish, Alejandro came up alongside me and started telling me to push it and that I was faster than him. I thought he was absolutely delusional because I could have sworn he’s beaten me in almost every race we’ve ever run against each other. He repeated “Come on, you are faster than me!” or “You can get him!” or “Go faster! It’s a downhill.” Needless to say, his encouragement allowed me to push a little more on the hill than I would have had he not been there, and helped me to run a 5:35 third mile. I definitely did not feel good doing it, and then he blazed past me with 200m to go to finish in 17:30. I finished four seconds behind in 17:34. I was happy with my race time, but was disappointed I was not under 17:30. Also, I would like to run sub-17 at some point in one of my next 5ks, so perhaps that will be the goal for Beat the Heat 5k in July in Winston Salem.
At the finish line, I found all the top guys to figure out how they ran: Jordan Kinley 1st, Dan Matena 2nd, John Compton 3rd, Ben Hovis 4th and Paul Mainwairing 5th. Tim Rhodes gave me a high five and so did Paul Mainwairing. Mike Beigay, Greg Isaacs, and Stephen Spada also had some great times! I found out after talking to John Compton and Paul that they felt a little sluggish in the muggy weather, which made me feel better about my own race. I looked to find out if Chad Crockford’s hip had survived (it did!) and saw that Alice Rogers blazed to a sub 18:10 5k to place second, five days after the Boston Marathon!
I did find Alejandro later to tell him that he was much faster than me, and he assured me that I had beaten him before (at the Shamrock Four Miler).
A big thanks to all those who came out to cheer us on and also to Run for Your Life for being patient with me as I figured out our Charlotte Running Club team. The open Mixed Team champions went to Jordan Kinley, Paul M. and me, good enough for a $50 gift certificate to Mac’s on South Boulevard. Second place went to my roommate John and Dan and Val Matena.
For all those who did not stick around for the raffle, you should have because they just chose the winners for the door prizes by looking at the visible race numbers on people in front of the stage. It was pretty awesome.
All in all, I think that this course is conducive to fast times and boasts a spectator friendly atmosphere. The post-race beverages were good because they had big bottles of gatorade.