2012 So It Begins

January 1, 2012 – While my chronological road to Boston is now only 15 weeks long, I decided that the first steps of this year’s journey  would begin in the quaint little college town of Davidson.

Recently, 3 members of the Davidson Area Running Team – Todd Hartung, Chad Randolph, and Dave Munger – founded a timing company.  They decided to have a little test run, figuratively and literally, by setting up a timed run/race on New Year’s Day.  They dubbed it the Tightwad 5K and offered free spots in the race to the first 40 people to sign up.  I liked the entry fee and also felt that a race on New Year’s Day would help keep me in line on New Year’s Eve.  I was hoping to start 2012 without a hangover so I signed up.

As  anticipated, I had a subdued New Year’s Eve, watching the ball drop on TV and then hitting the sack by 12:30.  When the alarm went off at 7:00 on the first day of 2012, I fought the urge to shut it off and go back to sleep.  Eventually, I dragged myself up, grabbed some coffee, and started 2012 sober in running attire, much better than starting it off hung over in orange prison jumpers.

By 8:15, Nancy (along for moral support, sitting this one out) and I parked near the Davidson Green.  I made my way to the little registration table manned by Dave who handed me my bib, number 34.  I thought of George Lynch who donned this number and led Carolina, my alma mater,  to the 1993 national championship, as opposed to J.R. Reid who also wore 34 and led us to, well, nothing.

Compete like this guy, a National Champion...

...not like this guy, a champion of nothing, except maybe high-top fades.

I pinned my bib to my shorts and began jogging around to get warm on this chilly, temps in the mid 30’s, morning.  I hadn’t gone a quarter of a mile when I ran into Chad Randolph.  I briefly asked him about the course and then headed off to check it out.

Running down South Street towards the greenway, I spotted the little white directional signs that Chad and company had posted.  The course looked to be very well marked so that even directionally challenged knuckleheads like myself should have no problem finding their way.

Content that I wouldn’t get lost on this day, I headed back to the green.  I did a few little dynamic stretches to kill the last minutes before the race began.  Then it was time so Nancy and I made our way to the start.

Since this wasn’t an official race, traffic was not stopped, but this was not to be an issue on a lazy New Year’s Day morning on back streets of a tiny town.  We lined up at the start.  I looked around to surmise the competition.  Ubiquitous racer Bobby Aswell was there so I figured a win was not in the cards for me – maybe on my best day if Bobby had a bad day, but I was nowhere near my best.  A young guy next to me introduced himself as Chaz (Chas?  He’s Charles on Facebook) and pointed out that he and I were virtual twins, wearing the same DART singlet and green Brooks Pureflows (I had bought mine from Emily Hansen on Friday, utilizing some Omega cash cards that would have expired on 12/31).  I ran in these for the first time 2 days earlier and loved them and thought I’d give them a race day christening.  I spotted another young, fit guy, wearing a Reckless Running singlet, so I made a mental note to keep an eye on him too.

Lining up at the start of the inaugural DART Tightwad 5K. That's me in the white singlet and black compression socks.

Chad and Todd (who gave me much grief for not mentioning in my last blog post how he destroyed me in that race so I’m giving him the props here) gave us a few last minute instructions, including “this is a run, not a race” which Chad’s kid, a boy of 7 or 8, reiterated to the crowd.  Sorry kid, if there’s a bib and a timing chip, it’s a race.  Todd counted down and then gave the signal and we jetted out.

For the second race in a row, someone wearing a Reckless Running singlet shot to the front.  I briefly, very briefly, entertained the thought of going with him, but quickly thought better of it.  Chaz had mentioned that he’d be happy going under 20 minutes so I just tucked in behind him.  We cruised comfortably as the first mile is straight down hill.  I glanced at my Garmin 310XT and it was a garbled mess.  Uh-oh.  I was running on feel which is bad because my feel always seems to lie to me.

When we made the left turn onto the greenway, I was in 4th place, behind Reckless Running, Bobby, who had passed me about a quarter mile in, and Chaz.  At the 1 mile mark, my piece of crap 310 beeped, and I glanced at it.  Still scrambled hieroglyphics, but I was able to make out that the split ended in a warped “09”.  I knew we were going much faster than 7:09 and much slower than 5:09, so my Sherlock-Holmes-like powers of reasoning led me to deduce that I had just run a 6:09 first mile.  Oops, too fast.  As I like to say, “My eyes were faster than my legs”  but this time, I’m going to heap at least some of the blame on the failing Garmin.

I was a little miffed for going out too fast, yet again.  Reckless and Bobby were dueling for the lead and Chaz was in the process of dropping me.  I was content to settle into fourth when a youngish girl, guessing in her twenties, passed me on the greenway.  As usual of late, my fitness level and bum Achilles were already beginning to betray me.  I began slowing down and started worrying about holding people off behind me instead of trying to catch people in front of me.

When we reached the first incline of any note, the girl ahead put her hands on her hips.  The drill sergeant in my head screamed at me, “What is your major malfunction Strickland?!?  Really, you can’t catch a girl who’s struggling up hills so much that she has to put her hands on her hips?!  Quit pussyfooting around and catch her!!”   The logical professor in my head, at least given birth partially by my smarter running buddies, people like Nathan Stanford and Meagan Nedlo, said, “Don’t listen to him.  Calm down.  Treat this like a tempo and don’t worry about place.  Just put forth a solid effort without killing yourself.  The fitness will come later as you train for Boston.  Relax.”  Let the inner struggle ensue.

Nearing the turnaround. With my right hand, I'm either waving at the photographer or doing a Triumph the Insult Comic Dog impression.

I would gain a little ground on the girl on the uphills, but she’d wipe out my gains on the downs.  I could  hear footsteps behind me just past the turnaround, but when I could no longer hear them, I eased up a bit.  Again, my second and third mile splits were so slow that I’m too embarrassed to reveal them here.  You can do the math if you really want to know.  Let’s just say that they were significantly slower than my half marathon pace from last February.  Pretty sad, but hey, again, I’m just thankful to be out there at all.  For now.

The last mile and a half were pretty rolling, not easy, terrain, excellent for training.  I did my best to gut it out and for the third 5K in a row, I finished right around 21:00, a 21:07 to be exact.  Nancy snapped this photo.  I like it since it almost makes me look like a runner.

I look almost like a real runner here, you know if you ignore the fact that Bobby, in the background, has been done for 2 minutes.

A cool picture of Bobby getting the win. I later found out that Reckless Running guy was Jeremy Alsop.

Bobby squeaked out the win over Reckless Running, who I found out later was Jeremy Alsop, a guy I snuck past in the China Grove 5K, which seems like another lifetime ago.  The girl who finished fourth and won the women’s race was Julie Alsop, I assume Jeremy’s wife.  They came tantalizingly close to getting the couple’s New Year’s Day sweep, ala Ben and Megan Hovis in the Rural Hill 8K.

I’m still beating myself up and licking my wounds and thinking things like “I should of been in the mix”.  But hey, what can you expect on 25 miles a week?  All I can do is keep working, up the mileage gradually, and always remember to keep my eye on the big prize, Boston. On the plus side, I can honestly say that I’ve finished in the top 5 of every race I’ve run in 2012.  I’ll take it.  Results are posted here.

I need you, my friends out there, to remind me not to overdo it.  The plan is to use these races as tempo runs as I try to rebuild my fitness in time for the race.  Thanks, and I’ll see you on the roads and trails!

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2 Responses to “2012 So It Begins”

  1. Dave Munger Says:

    Nice Recap, Allen! Glad you enjoyed the race. Yep, Julie and Jeremy are married. Kind of unfair to combine that much talent into one couple, isn’t it? Watch out for their kids.

  2. Todd Hartung Says:

    Another great read Allen. I always enjoy your blog. Liked the carolina photos and was at UNC when Jr Reid and King Rice were there. Lets get some running in before Boston. Flights are booked but have dragged my feet on the hotel.

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