Getting My Rear In Gear

Before:

Earlier this week, with the Charlotte Running Club’s attempt to break the 100 x 5K world record a mere 3 weeks away, I suddenly realized that I haven’t done any speed work since before Myrtle Beach.  I had entered an 18:55 as my 5K estimate for the assault on the world record – that’s an aggressive goal and a virtually impossible one if I don’t get some speed work in between now and March 26.  So I decided last minute to jump in the Get Your Rear In Gear 5K.

Yesterday (Friday), after enjoying lunch at the Burger Co. with a fine running crew, I shot over to Omega Sports to register.  Thanks to a Christmas gift card that still had some 60 bucks on it, along with a $20 coupon from the race packet, I was able to snag a new pair of shoes (Saucony Pro Grid Ride 3), a foam roller, and a pair of Balega socks, all for only $15 out-of-pocket cost!  Score!  (That really has nothing to do with the race but I’m excited about it and had to share.)

This morning, I rolled into the Presbyterian hospital’s parking deck shortly after 7:00, a good hour plus before our scheduled 8:15 start time.  I jogged around looking for familiar faces when about a half mile into my warm-up I spotted Théoden.  We headed off to trot the race course.

Along the way, we ran into Tom Ricks, winner of the Big Red Shoe 5K, who was running a 20-miler in preparation for the Boston Marathon (jealous!).  A few minutes later, Lauren Tilton came jogging up and joined us.  Tom left us after a mile or so to resume his marathon training, while TJ, Lauren, and I finished our course preview.  I had some concerns – the second mile was a long, steady incline and I knew the race could get ugly there.

A few minutes later and we were back near the starting line.  I spotted running pal and former Providence Harrier teammate Derrick Hewett and we talked for a bit.  Jordan strolled up and I got to introduce Derrick to the 2-time Thunder Road marathon champ.

By now it was time to line up and Derrick and I followed the masses walking over to the start.  The 2 main contenders for the win, Paul Mainwaring and Aaron Linz (the Charlotte Running Club president) showed up about this time, did a few strides, and then joined us behind the line.  I had joked earlier about this being a Revolutionary War re-enactment, since Paul hails from Great Britain and we were starting in the aptly-named Independence Park.

Quite a few running friends came out for this one.  Todd Hartung worked his way through the crowd at the start  and we talked for the last few moments before the race began.  I exchanged greetings with other running friends Dennis Livesay and Richard Hefner and spotted a few other Charlotte racing regulars, Brenny Thompson (shirtless as always but now donning a goatee) and Steve Staley.

A kid standing next to Derrick turned to us and asked if our first turn would be right or left.  I really didn’t know – Théoden and I had started our preview run at a point further down along the course and, being the directionally challenged kinda guy that I am, I couldn’t get my bearings as to where we were in relation to where we had started our warm-up.  So after saying, “I think it’s right” then second guessing myself and saying, “No, come to think of it, I believe we turn left”, I finally settled on “See that guy in the red?” [I pointed to Paul] “Just follow him”.

During:

Then the starter signaled for us to start and we were off.  Norwegian Bjorn Erik Norman made sure Norway was well represented as he shot into the early lead.  As usual, I realized I was going out too fast when we were about a quarter of a mile in and I was just a few steps behind Aaron and Paul.  “Really, dummy?” I thought to myself as I slammed on the brakes and quickly backed off.  Dennis passed me shortly thereafter and I briefly entertained the notion of trying to go with him but I knew he had been running in the low to mid 18’s of late.  Going with him would be a suicide mission – I let him go.

But I felt great through the first downhill mile (who doesn’t feel great through a first downhill mile?)  My Garmin beeped at me for my first mile split: 5:52.  Pretty fast, but not totally unexpected.  I started trying to get my mind right for mile 2, the beast that headed up Kings.

As predicted, it was a pretty nasty climb.  But as the incline was relatively gradual, it didn’t hurt quite as badly as I had expected.  I had settled into the midst of a group of guys running my pace, one of them being the kid who had asked us for directions at the start.  He had a black shirt on with the words “Moore Motivation” in white lettering.  He and I took turns passing each other up the hill.  My pace had dropped considerably, down into the low-6:30’s, but I didn’t panic.  Yeah, as it turns out, running uphill is hard and your pace slows – believe it or not, I know this by now.

Somewhere near the top of the hill stood Caitlin, Olympic qualifier and my Myrtle Beach pacer.  She cheered as she snapped photos.  She yelled, “Looking good, Allen.  Sexy!”  which would have been fine, had she stopped there.  But as I ran past she laughed hard, kind of the way you would if, say, a water buffalo had been running up the hill and you yelled “Sexy!”

Sexy, like a water buffalo is sexy. (photo courtesy Caitlin Chrisman)

But back to the race.  The Garmin indicated that I was I holding a steady pace so I deduced that Moore Motivation was alternately accelerating to pass me, then slowing down until I passed him back, at which point he would speed up again.  Rinse.  Lather.  Repeat.  There was a water stop at about the 1.5 mile point and it was here that MM made a big move.  Surge is not the right word- sprint is.  And I’m not embellishing here – he probably dropped a 15-second 100 meters.

Around this time a tall guy, about 6’3″ or 6’4″, wearing a #23 North Carolina Michael Jordan basketball jersey, and bright green compression calf socks ala Kevin, came by in a loping, but steady, stride.  I locked onto him, tucking behind as we suddenly faced a headwind while turning onto Central.  Poor MM looked to be spent from his sprint up Kings as Jordan#23 and I quickly overtook him.

As we neared the 2-mile mark, I kept expecting Derrick to show up any second.  While I’m usually going out too fast, Derrick sets a nice, steady pace and if we were both running our usual race, he should have been coming along soon.  My mile 2 split sounded and I glanced at the watch: 6:30.  Seconds later, sure enough, Derrick passed me.  I went with him, passing Jordan#23, as we hit a much-needed decline down Hawthorne.  I just tried to hang on as Derrick started gapping me.

Jordan#23, some little kid, and I exchanged spots for the next mile while Derrick lengthened his lead to about 5 or 6 seconds.  I had to really man up to try and stay within striking distance.  While Derrick destroys me in endurance (he recently ran a 3:02 marathon), I thought I might be able to out kick him, if I could just get close enough to be able to make a move at the end.

With maybe a quarter of a mile to go, I spotted Jordan (Kinley, not #23) cheering everyone on.  At this point, Jordan#23 and the kid had about 20 meters on me.  Derrick had close to 50.  Jordan exhorted, “Go now Allen, make your move.  Come on, get one of those guys.  Go get one!”  So I picked it up.  I got one (the kid), then two (Jordan#23) and I set my eyes on Derrick.  With maybe 50 meters to go, I had accelerated to nearly an all-out kick.  I passed Derrick with maybe 15-20 meters to go and he yelled, “No!” and then he sprinted too.  We crossed in a photo finish, but I thought I nipped him at the line.

After:

Derrick and I laughed and exchanged a high five and debated over who beat whom.  A few minutes later, Queen City timing posted some preliminary results and Derrick ran over to check them out.  He came back, laughing, “I got you”.  We both finished in 19:21, but Derrick got 12th place while I was relegated to unlucky 13th (at least races don’t do that dumb hotel thing, otherwise I’d be 14th).  We laughed some more and I congratulated Derrick on his dominating victory over me.

I'm going to my grave thinking I nipped Derrick at the line. My downfall was wearing the bib-with-chip-included on my shorts. When I leaned at the tape, my right leg was back, while Derrick's bib was pinned to his singlet, and therefore out front. Or maybe he just out kicked me. =) (photo courtesy Kati Robertson)

Paul wins this round of the Revolutionary War. Does this mean we'll have to start having tea and biscuits at Charlotte Running Club gatherings? (photo courtesy Caitlin Chrisman)

Aaron finishes second. America becomes a British colony again. (photo courtesy Caitlin Chrisman)

I claimed the master’s victory, my first award of 2011, and it came with the added bonus of $30 in Omega Sports gift cards (if I had waited a day to make my purchase, I could have gotten out of there with $0 out-of-pocket costs!)  During the awards ceremony, I was hoping they’d give out the age group awards on stage so I could grab the mike and say, “When I had my colonoscopy, during the procedure I told my doctor, ‘With friends like you, who needs enemas?’  Thank you.  I’ll be here all week.  Try the veal.”  (I mean if I can’t tell that story (true one, by the way) at a race whose expressed purpose is to raise awareness of colon cancer and to persuade everyone to get screened early, where can I tell it?  Although yeah, admittedly too much information.)  But no such luck, only Paul and the women’s winner got to go onstage.  I should have tried to get Paul to tell the story as his own – it would have been funnier in a British accent.

This race was tremendously fun.  Today exemplifies exactly why I enjoy racing so much, even when my buddy out kicks me.

Some of the gang after the race. From left to right: Lauren Tilton, Théoden Janes, Derrick Hewett, Yours Truly, Bjorn Erik Norman (photo courtesy Kati Robertson)

Afterword:

Full results here.  Jordan#23 turns out to be 31-year-old Stase Vonsiatsky who finished second in his age group behind Derrick.  “The kid” is 14-year-old Zach Cox who also came in second in his age group.  I think MM is Dartenian Moore (get it, Moore Motivation?), age unlisted, who ended up finishing in 40th place with a time of 21:26, but I could be wrong here.  I expected that person to be somebody named Moore and Dartenian is the closet Moore in the results.

THE PICS ARE IN!

I told you it was a photo finish!  Here are the pictures to prove it!  These are the greatest pics to ever grace this blog!  I don’t often purchase pictures but I just may have to break down and buy these (proofs courtesy Sue Falco Photography):

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4 Responses to “Getting My Rear In Gear”

  1. Richard Hefner Says:

    Great job on the write-up and the race Allen!

  2. Dave Munger Says:

    Awesome race report. Congrats on the master’s win. However, I believe you were robbed of the overall victory. According to the official results, you ran a 4:51 pace, while the “winner,” Paul Mainwaring, only ran a 5:15 pace. You might want to save a copy before they make a “correction.”

    Either way, it was great meeting you in person tonight.

  3. caitlin Says:

    Ha oh. my. god. i didn’t think any one else heard my laugh. it was the sort of thing where “sexy” just blurted out of my mouth without thinking, kind of like diarrhea of the mouth. Then i realized who says “sexy” to someone in a race and got really self-conscious. And then i thought it was really funny, and started laughing. i’m glad i could keep you entertained into thinking you are a water buffalo

  4. Emily Says:

    I had fun reading this bc I knew who Jordan #23 was before I got to the end – Stase is actually the manager of the Omega at Rivergate – cool guy and obviously an obnoxious tarheel fan 🙂 Glad we talked you into running it over burgers. Come see me when you’re ready to shop some more!

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