Another Week in the Life (Track Series and Summer Breeze)

The only known pic of me running this week. Thanks Jamaar!

Another pretty eventful running week took place in the life of yours truly this week.  Allow me to run it down for you.

Monday

Okay so I lied a little.  Nothing eventful took place in the life of yours truly on Monday.  I took the day off from running as I was sore and beat up from an eventful week last week.

Tuesday

For the last 2 weeks, my running schedule has been virtually identical.  Track meet on Tuesday, 5K on Saturday, long run on Sunday with junk miles in-between.  The only difference between this week and last week would be the events – last week was the mile and 2-mile, this week would be the mile and 5K.

I arrived and signed in right at 6:00.  A lot of the regulars were milling about.  I asked Boriana, “What are you going to run?” and she responded, “One second faster than you.”  Ha!  I said, “Wait!  You don’t even know what events I’m running yet!”

I got a little warm-up in with Danielle,  Boriana, Rex, and a few strangers, then made my way to the restroom for a pre-race pit-stop.  When I emerged, everyone was standing on the starting line for the mile.  I rushed over there as Tim Rhodes announced, “5:30 and under, this heat.  5:30 and over, next heat.”  Bam, just like that I was faced with a dilemma.  I ran the mile in 5:30 last week.

Do I run the fast heat and risk coming in last even though the fast folks should pull me through to a faster time?  Or do I run the slower heat and have a shot at victory yet run the risk of setting a slower time without the fast gang pulling me along?  Then my fast buddies peer-pressured me into running the fast heat by yelling things like “Man up!  Get in here!”  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve often succumbed to peer pressure, and did so again as I jumped in.

The starting gun fired and I instantly regretted my decision.  I felt crappy from the get-go as Boriana, and everybody else, gapped me immediately.  I never got into a good rhythm and my legs felt like I had bags of flour strapped to them.  I felt embarrassed as I dropped farther and farther back.

As we neared the bell lap, I suddenly realized I was dead last.  I cursed myself: “@#$%&  it Allen, you’ve never come in last in your life.  You’re not starting now!”  The only 2 folks remotely within striking distance were Boriana and some unknown kid and I was not making up any ground on either of them.  My first last place finish seemed inevitable.  All I could do was try to pick up the pace and hope one of them faded.  Suddenly, inexplicably, the unnamed kid mysteriously slowed to a crawl and I blew past him.  Whew, that was close.  5:44 finish – what the ?!

Afterward, Boriana turned to me and asked, “Did I beat you by a second?”  I replied, “You beat me by a bunch of ’em!”

5K

After the horrible showing in the mile, I was understandably worried about the 5K.  As we lined up, I looked around and couldn’t spot any obviously slow people.  I feared another battle to avoid last place.

Tim explained that this was the one and only qualifying race for the 5K finals to be held on the last week of the Summer Series.  Only the top 8 men and top 8 women would qualify.  That was the carrot to run well.  I had a very outside shot of qualifying:  if 3 or 4 guys got heat stroke or something or if I could convince someone I was female (only 5 women were in the race), I might make it.

We started and I tried, as usual, to lock into about 6-minute pace. I tucked in behind Danielle and Boriana for a bit, but oddly enough, I felt pretty good, significantly better that I had felt in the mile, so I passed them when the opportunity presented itself.

6-flat pace wasn’t happening, but 6:10 felt relatively comfortable so I locked in and cruised.  With the leaders far, far ahead, I was in no man’s land for quite a while with only 2 runners possibly, but it seemed unlikely, in striking distance – the women’s leader, Carolyn Maye, and just behind her, a familiar face in recent races, Clayton.

It wasn’t long before the leaders started coming around.  First Paul lapped me, then Jay, then James Haycraft, followed by Chad and BMac.  Jay, BMac – this is my parting gift to you guys, a free lapping.  Hope you enjoyed.  A few guys I didn’t know lapped me next, and then Alex did too.  Another guy or too lapped and it started to feel ridiculous – I half expected a little old lady with a walker to come by.

The lappings were happening so rapidly that the volunteers started losing track of the lap count.  When the guy yelled “4 to go” to me, I corrected him and said, “5!”

I started making up ground on Carolyn and Clayton, ever so slowly reeling them in.  I passed Clayton on the final lap and I started kicking to catch Carolyn.  I caught and passed her with about 30 or 40 meters to go.  I was a wig, a sports bra, a good shaving, and maybe some make-up away from claiming a victory.  But as I had none of those things, I had to settle for 13th male.

I cooled down with Danielle, Boriana, and Carolyn.  Boriana and I joked about how to continue our rivalry after she moves to Virginia (which is set to happen quite soon, I believe).  She said we could stalk each other’s results from afar but that’s not good enough for me.  I plan to sneak into some race in Virginia and sit just behind her until the final 50 meters when I will blow past and turn around and scream, “Ah-ha!  Gotcha B3!”  (I have never understood that nickname as there are only 2 B’s in Boriana Bakaltcheva).

The night ended with a few of us rehydrating and chatting in the parking lot.  Danielle, Boriana, Alex, BMac, and I had a pleasant little conversation to top off the night.  I’ll miss Boriana and Brian – they’re leaving (not together lest anyone out there misunderstand) just as I was beginning to get to know them!

Wednesday

Nathan and I exchanged a few emails and planned to meet on the greenway.  I got a late start thanks to a lame meeting at work and this threw our schedule into disarray.  Somehow we managed to miss each other completely.  I slogged out 7.5 miles alone, which is just as well as I doubt I would have been able to keep up with Nathan anyway.  I stopped and walked when I had a strange pain pop up on my thigh.  Fortunately, it went away as quickly as it appeared and I slogged in the rest of this run that I plan on forgetting soon.

Thursday

Nathan and I planned to meet on the trails and we nearly missed each other again!  This time I circled back just in time to run into him and we at least got in a couple of miles before we had to go our separate ways.  I got in a full 10+ miles.

After the run, I finally got my Mellow Mushroom fix in when I met some of Charlotte’s fastest over pizza and beers.  We ordered 2 large pies for 7 of us.  When Billy showed up, I quickly suggested we order another large.  That boy can eat!

Friday

Runner’s lunch with the gang.  Another chance to tell Jay and Brian how we’d all miss them.

I picked up my Summer Breeze race packet at University Run For Your Life where I asked Chris (the store owner) for a recommendation on a neutral, light trainer.  Brooks Launch.  Faithful readers, please remind me of this when I blog and ask what light trainer I should try next.

Nathan and I met for an easy 6ish mile run on the Davidson trails.  He stuck to his promise to keep things slow, even though we did start gradually picking things up towards the end.

Saturday

Gotta make this one quick as I’m running out of down time on Father’s Day.

Warmed up with Chad Crockford by running the entire course which scared me – several long, uphill stretches.

The race started and I chased rivals.  How very unusual of me.  Somebody told me earlier in the week that I could not beat Curly.  So I especially wanted to beat Curly.

I eventually passed Clayton (he’s everywhere!), Anthony, and even Curly.  I chased Chase (14 or 15 year-old kid) – he’s everywhere too!  Coming back into Freedom Park, I ran past spectators I knew who yelled, “Go Allen!  Go Stan!” in the same breath so I knew Stan was right there and I fought to hold him off too.

I came within a step of catching Chase who puked the second we crossed the line.  Man, if you worked hard enough to barf you most definitely deserved to beat me.  I officially finished in 19:12.

Afterward, I partook in lots of good post-race fare – Smoothie King smoothies, popsicles, and more.  I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when they called out my name for second place in my age group.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see Ken and I enjoyed chatting with him for a bit.

The Charlotte Running Club open team won the club competition as it was loaded with the race’s top 5 finishers – pretty hard to beat that.  I put together a CRC men’s masters team and Eimear put together a women’s masters team.  Eimear’s team challenged my team to a friendly competition with the winner being the team with the best average Grand Prix points.  Preliminary results reveal Eimear’s team beat mine by approximately 1 point.  Ouch.  We owe them beers (although there may be more recounts than a presidential election in Florida before I officially concede defeat).

Finally, I hung out with Anne Marie, Emily, Chad, and Danielle at the MGD 64 beer tent.  Fancy finding me there – how odd.  Mere minutes after the awards ceremony was over, the beer girls started closing up shop and offering tons of beer to anyone that would take it.  Where’s Matt Jaskot and his van when you really need them?  I grabbed a 12-pack.

Big Daddy’s post-race breakfast, delicious.  Met a few more runners, Daniel Eggars, Mike Mitchell, and Jason Blackwood.  Fun had by all.

Sunday

Which brings us to today, Father’s Day.

A gaggle of folks met at Davidson for a long run.  The pace was supposed to be slow, and mostly was. But after a short intermission to pick up another group, the pace started heating up.  Yes, utilizing my new favorite term (with apologies to all my vegetarian/vegan friends who cringe when they hear it) – it turned into a lobster boiler with mile 9 being the fastest of the day at 7:44.

Nearing mile 10, I was ready to bail when a runner I had just met, Elise, said “I’m going to head back.”  Grateful, I offered to head back with her.

After the run, a crowd of us met at Egg (loved Caleb’s joke, “Egg, which serves toast.  Not to be confused with Toast, which serves egg.”)  Again, good times.

One week in the life.  I posted a novel on the week and yet barely touched on the departure of Jay, Boriana, and Brian, all of whom we’re going to miss.  Mike Kahn put together a great video to say goodbye to Jay.  Check it out here.

And that’s it.  I’m signing off to reward myself for not drinking too much this week.  How am I going to reward myself you ask?  By drinking a couple of beers, of course.  Thanks for stopping by.  See you again soon.

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6 Responses to “Another Week in the Life (Track Series and Summer Breeze)”

  1. Anne Marie Says:

    you forgot the part where you thought you needed your ID in order to get into the beer tent…only to be told that it’s quite obvious you’re not under 21 😉

  2. Anthony Says:

    I just bought a pair of the Karhu Flows at Inside Out sports. Another option for a light neutral trainer.

  3. Allen Strickland Says:

    Why thank you so much for reminding me, Anne Marie. =)

  4. Allen Strickland Says:

    Thanks Anthony – I’m sure Meagan would rather I bought the Flows! I’ll check them out.

  5. Jason Says:

    good stuff, Allen. Nice to meet you the other day. How do you like wordpress? I’m thinking of switching my blog over to this one, from Blogger.

    • Allen Strickland Says:

      Hey Jason,

      I like WordPress okay. It has its advantages and disadvantages when compared to Blogger (although I don’t know all that much about Blogger as I haven’t used it a lot).

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