Bunny Run 2011

The Gypsy Kid and I jog on the Harold McEachern Greenway in Concord. Special thanks to Bobby Aswell for taking pics!

A couple of months back, when I first heard about the Museum Mile, I got really excited about it.  Back in the early 80’s, Charlotte hosted a really cool race, the Tryon Street Mile, that I loved.  I welcomed the opportunity to relive the thrill of racing one mile straight down Tryon Street.

But as race day grew near, having done minimal speed work of late, it became painstakingly obvious that I wasn’t in any kind of mile racing shape.  I’d love to race down Tryon Street but not if it meant embarrassing, or even worse, injuring myself.  I regretfully decided that it was in my best interest to opt out.

Running with my buddy Todd Spears on Thursday, he mentioned that he was running the Bunny Run 5K in Concord.  I ran that race the year before and had a blast.  Todd tried to sell me on the race.  I did need to work a tempo run in somehow and running a tempo run by yourself can be difficult at best.  To me, the easiest way to run a fast tempo is to enter a race.  I mulled it over.

Friday, I met several running pals for lunch.  (Unrelated, but interesting point – the average time of the Runner’s Lunch gang continues to drop as more and more of Charlotte’s best continue to show up.  We could put together one pretty serious cross country team with the people at Friday’s table which included Jordan, Paul, John Compton, Mike Moran, and Kevin.)  When Kevin told me he too was running the manly-named Bunny Run, that tipped the scales and I decided to go ahead and run it.  After all, it’d been quite some time since I last dueled with my archrival.  Again, throwing my new favorite plagiarized line out there, “It was on like Genghis Khan”.

Friday night, Dean provided the cherry on top of the metaphorical sundae when he decided to jump in too.  The 3 PMT (name of the work group that Dean, Todd, and I all belong to) Musketeers, Amigos, insert your favorite trio name here, were running the same race for the first time since last year’s Salem Lake 30K.

Saturday morning arrived and I drove at least 100 yards out of my way to pick up Dean – man that guy asks a lot of our friendship!  We shot down 73 towards Concord, making a point of slowing down in front of Punchy’s Diner, the infamous spot where the dastardly police officer last pounced and gave me a speeding ticket.

I had a few directional mishaps, as usual, on our way to Myer’s Park, site of the race.  (What makes this especially sad is that I grew up in Concord and I’ve been to this park probably a thousand times.)  But we eventually got there.  Once there, Dean and I had to wait a pretty long time in the race-day registration line.  I got a little nervous when I recognized the lady taking the registration forms – it was Dawn Simpson, the lady in the Concord Recreation Department who busted me years back for having an illegal player on my rec league basketball team.  Yes, I’m ashamed to admit that I tried to pass off a 6′ 8″ 19-year-old as my 6′ 0″ 40-year-old friend, Bill Waterson.  (Just to clarify – I don’t make a habit of cheating.  This is a long and nuanced story.  Uber-abridged version here.)  Back then Dawn announced to the world, in the playoffs no less, “I know Bill Waterson.  Bill Waterson is a gray haired gentleman.  This is not Bill Waterson.”  Fast forward to the present –  for a split second I feared Dawn might look at me and say, “We do not allow cheaters in this race, sir.”  But luckily, she took my form and handed me a bib without commenting.

By this time it was well after 8:00 with the race scheduled to start at 8:30.  Kevin had already gotten 1 warm-up mile in without us, but he circled back around and he and I got in another one, as did Todd and Dean.  Then start time was upon us and we all lined up.

Looking around, I didn’t spot any of last year’s top guys.  Mike Beigay came in 2nd last year when he ran a ridiculously-fast sub-17 while pushing a baby stroller.  I still haven’t gotten over that.  But no Mike to be seen – he had just run the Boston Marathon on Monday so he probably didn’t feel like racing a 5K just yet.  And last year’s winner wasn’t present either.  Bobby Aswell was there but he had just run a pretty grueling marathon of his own a week earlier, the uber-hilly, actually mountainous, Blue Ridge Marathon.  Based on these facts, I thought Kevin had a really good shot at winning this thing.

Ryan, the race director, gave us the “On your mark, set…” wait for it as about 5 people false started then froze until the air horn finally sounded.  We all took off down the steep hill towards the Harold McEachern Greenway where the majority of our race would take place.  Half a dozen or so high school kids bolted into the lead.  I tried to discern the legit kids from the posers and spotted a couple of the latter right off – the basketball shoes gave them away.  Kevin was past the imposters by three quarters of a mile.  I was past them by the mile.

A couple of the kids looked to be for real but The Gypsy Kid patiently held a steady pace as he and the high-schoolers gapped me.  I’ve been shooting for sub-19 for a while now so I tried to lock into 6:00/mile pace.  I would easily break 19 if I held pace, and even if I couldn’t hang on to 6-even, maybe I could bank enough time to slip under 19 at the finish.  I came through the first mile in 5:57 and felt fine – so far so good, just hang on.  I looked up ahead and saw Kevin’s lead growing.  Sweet – I’d love to see my pal get his first win.

This was an out and back course – Kevin and the kids made the turnaround.  As The Gypsy Kid neared, I reached out and we high fived.  One of the high schoolers chasing Kevin wanted in on that action so I high fived him too.  (I’m pretty sure it was Gil Gilreath, 2nd place finisher of the Angels of ’97 5k and son of another Gil Gilreath, one that I used to work with during my college summers back in the 80’s.  Small world!)

Shortly after I made my own turnaround, I spotted Bobby mere seconds behind.  I’ve never beaten Bobby and this was the farthest into a race I could ever remember being ahead of him.  I picked up the pace.  I crossed paths with, and waved to, Dean, then Todd, then Dianne Allen, then Larry and Kathy Seavers.  Everybody waved and cheered – it’s really cool to know a lot of people in the running community and to all support each other.

When I ran by Dianne, I heard her call out, “Go Bobby!” so I knew he was directly behind me.  Again, I tried to speed up as I came through the 2-mile mark and the girl volunteering called out, “11:58”.  Still right on pace and I felt solid.  Did I mention Bobby ran a marathon, and not just any marathon but one up a mountain, a week earlier?  Surely I could hold him off.

But then my fitness level betrayed me.  I began to fade.  “Come on Allen, don’t wuss out!  Push it!” I told myself, just as Bobby blazed past.  I tried to go with him but, and yes I will reveal my geek side here –  it was like trying to fight the Borg.  Resistance was futile.

Now, just like 7 days earlier in New Mexico, I was left fighting for an age group award.  I thought an age group win was a lock as I came out of the greenway and headed back up the hill – right up until some guy blasted past and there was nothing I could do about it.  I was spent.  He looked like he might be around my age and I cursed him, and myself, as he left me in his dust.  Now I ran only for pride and a shot at sub-19:00.

I crossed the timing mat as the clock turned 19:00.  I stopped my Garmin which also read 19:00.  I thought I had gotten over the mats before the clock turned, but it was close.  I wouldn’t know for sure until the final results came out.

Kevin trotted up and congratulated me as I asked him, “Did you win?”  His response, “Yep.”  Very cool – it was worth missing the Museum Mile to see my buddy get his first win.

We hung around for the awards.  Bobby was kind enough to snap the following pics:

The Gypsy Kid gets the W!

Kevin, the winner, with the 3 PMT Amigos, Musketeers, whatever we are - Todd, myself, and Dean.

A pic of 3 members of the Charlotte Running Club - Kevin, Bobby, and yours truly (Dean has procrastinated paying dues and Todd won't join any club that would have him as a member)

It turns out I won the 40-44 age group (interesting aside – that’s 2 races in a row that I finished 6th overall while winning my age group).  The guy that smoked me at the end was 33.  As Ryan announced my name, he said “…in a time of…”  drum-roll please, “…18:58”.  Awesome!  So now my new 5K goal officially becomes “Beat the bear”.  See it turns out that the Karhu Bear went 18:45, according to Meagan, in the 5K in L.A.  Anyone that beat him got a free pair of Karhu’s.  Yeah, I know I wasn’t there, but I think some kind of longer statute of limitations, like maybe a year or so, should be extended to bloggers who incessantly sing the praises of the shoe.  When I break 18:45, I will be knocking on Meagan’s door.

I'm coming for you bear!

Another fun race, and a lot cheaper, and easier to get to, than last week’s race.  While I missed the cool Museum Mile, I got to see a friend meet a major milestone by winning for the first time.  Very cool stuff!

Looks like Skyline is up next.  See you all there!  Join me as I try to beat the bear (but FYI – I wouldn’t put money on it just yet – the first mile of Skyline is uphill)!

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One Response to “Bunny Run 2011”

  1. meagan Says:

    karhu the bear does not fear you. he will take you anytime, anywhere. (also, good job today.)

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