This Time It’s Official

The CPCC Skyline 5K was the second race in the Run For Your Life Grand Prix series.

Before you try to guess my time for yesterday’s Skyline CPCC 5K, keep in mind that I beat Jay Holder, winner of the Corporate Cup Half Marathon and last year’s Run For Your Life Grand Prix champ, and Meagan Nedlo, a DII track All-American who recently ran a 16:44 5K in the Penn Relays.  Okay, now guess.

Oh, did I mention that Jay ran a 2:43 marathon in Boston on Monday?  Or that Meagan’s 5K was Thursday night?  That Jay was pacing his girlfriend Lauren and Meagan was hanging out, jogging the race as a ‘fun run’?  Maybe you’d like to change your guess now.

Here’s how my race went down.

Laura and I showed up around 7:30, parked, and made our way to the starting area where hundreds of runners were already mingling.  I spotted friends Kevin Ballantine and Derrick Hewett as soon as I walked up.  A little later I saw friends Tom and Lo Patania, and Emily Barret.  We briefly chatted with everyone at some point before Kevin and I embarked on a casual little warm-up.

Moments later, we all toed the line.  I watched Tim Rhodes as he held up five fingers, folding them 1 at a time as he counted down to the start, ‘Five, four, three, two, one…’ and we were off.

I didn’t have high expectations going into the race.  I ran a relatively hard fartlek workout on Thursday and still felt tight.  My one goal was to ‘officially’ break 20 minutes.  I had broken 20 in my 2 prior races, but both had come up as less than 3.1 miles on my Garmin so they didn’t count as far as I was concerned.

Early on, I passed Jay, who looked to be casually jogging.  He yelled, ‘Go Allen!’ and I waved.  ‘2:43 five days ago.  Holy $%^!’ , I thought to myself.

I often like to pace off runners that I expect to run somewhere near my goal pace.  I knew Kevin was hoping to break 19, which made him too fast to lock onto.  I spotted Jim Crotts and Mitchell Rippy, both in my wheelhouse, so I kept an eye on them from the start.  To steal a line from Yogi Berra, “It was deja vu all over again” as I settled in behind Jim, just as I had a week earlier.

I wanted to run a little more evenly this week – the week before, in the Ada Jenkins 5K, I had gone out too fast, in 6:06, which contributed to a slow, 6:45, second mile.  In this race, I went out more slowly, partially due to my plan and partially due to the fact that we had a nice, steady hill to climb for the first mile.  I came through in 6:27 with Jim a few seconds in front of me and Mitchell significantly ahead, yet still in sight.

I felt a little crappy – my legs were still tight – so I just tried to lock into a solid 6:25 pace.  If successful, this would get me a sub-20.  In another deja vu moment, at the nearly identical spot in the race, shortly after the first mile, where I passed him a week before, I passed Jim.  I could still see Mitchell maybe 200 meters ahead of us.

About this time, Dexter Pepperman, who had run a 3:14 marathon in Boston on Monday, came cruising by.  ‘How the hell?’, I thought as Dexter looked as fresh as a daisy.  I tried to hitch my trailer to his wagon to go with him, but he was trotting along a little too quickly for me, so I let him go.  I focused on maintaining pace while trying to stay in contact with Mitchell who was maintaining, maybe even lengthening, the distance between us.

My Garmin beeped to alert me of the mile 2 split – 6:27.  Well, I thought, at least I did a much better job of pacing through the first 2 than I had in recent races.  I knew the last mile was mostly downhill so I made a concerted effort to start chasing Mitchell.  As I picked up the pace, I gradually gained on him.

I rounded a turn and right in front of me was Dexter.  Apparently, Boston had taken its toll after all.  He muttered ‘Nice job, Allen’ as I passed and I waved as I was using all oxygen to run and couldn’t spare enough to respond.  Mitchell was starting to come back to me.

As we reached the downhill stretch on Elizabeth, I began unleashing the kick.  Mitchell had a good 60 or 70 meters on me, but I was quickly reeling him in.  I glanced at the clock as I passed the 3-mile mark and noted that it read 19-something.  I had 2 goals left – catch Mitchell and break 20.  I sprinted, but so did Mitchell.

Had the finish line been 5 meters farther away, I think I would have caught him.  But as it was, I finished one step behind him.  Damn.  Apparently, in 2 of the last 3 races, I finished one spot directly behind Mitchell.

I did manage to officially break 20.  My Garmin read 19:54, but when the final results were posted, the chip time read 19:56 (gun time was 19:59).  And surprisingly, since the places were arranged by chip time, I offically finished one spot ahead of Mitchell, both our chip times reading 19:56. 

So if you guessed 19:56 as my time, you win.

Another 5K in the books.  I hope all this speed work ultimately accomplishes what I want it to, namely increasing my overall fitness so I can finally break that 3:21 marathon barrier and qualify for Boston.  We’ll see if it worked come October.

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2 Responses to “This Time It’s Official”

  1. meagan Says:

    great race! thanks for the shout-out. =)

  2. Dexter Says:

    Hey Allen Just happen to find this, you had a good race and you will do geat when you get to BOSTON 2011 and I hope to be there with ya

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