Recovering…the Davidson Spartan 5K

I like the little stick figure Spartan. Too bad I registered too late to get a t-shirt with that logo on it.

Nearly 2 weeks after the horrific travail of the Boston marathon, I finally started to feel like myself again.  With the scary chest pains gone, I got back to a somewhat normal running routine, meaning I ran nearly every day this week, although I took it nice and easy.

I knew I wanted to jump in a little 5K somewhere, but I wasn’t sure where.  I heard about a tiny little race off the radar in Plaza Midwood and thought maybe I’d have an out-out-outside shot at a win.  But my pals at Davidson Timing were putting on a race up this way so ultimately I opted instead for the nearby race with a good cause (proceeds went to the athletic department for the Community School of Davidson).  I’ll admit my motives weren’t altogether altruistic – this also afforded me at least an extra hour of sleep.

Saturday morning, I made that long ten-minute drive over to Davidson.  As I neared the green, site of race day registration, I spotted my pal Dean walking out of a parking lot, so I honked and whipped the car in and parked.

Being consumed with all things Boston for the last few months, I’d nearly lost track of one of the things I love about running.  I thoroughly enjoy these small town races, with the community support, the fellowship, the camaraderie.  I was instantly reminded as Dean and I chatted on our walk to the green and I could see much of the Davidson community out to support the race and its accompanying festival.

I quickly registered (too late to receive a t-shirt, dammit!) and Dean and I headed off for a little warm-up.  I told him about the heart rate monitor that I’d purchased days earlier.  After my Boston fiasco, I vowed to never run another marathon without one.  I learned the very hard way that while you may think you feel fine, you may in fact be red-lining.  That’s the beauty of the heart rate monitor – the heart rate doesn’t lie.  If you think you feel great, but your heart rate is pegged, you’d better back off.  Over the next few weeks and months, I plan to do a lot of experimenting and I hoped to use this race as the first part of that experiment.  I planned to really push the pace for the first mile and see what the monitor said.

We headed back to our cars and made our last minute pre-race preparations.  I put on a singlet, pinned my bib to my shorts, and changed out of the Karhu Flows, for warming up, and into the Racers, for racing.  I may not run like a runner but by god, I will at least look like one.

Moments later, we were lining up at the start.  I didn’t recognize anybody, but Dean knew quite a few folks.  This was the third race in the ROC Series and he had met a bunch of the runners in the first two races.  He introduced me to several and pointed out some of the faster guys as we lined up.  Moments later, Bobby Aswell arrived and I knew any slim chance of me winning just disappeared altogether.  Here’s a pic of the starting line that Dean snapped for Bobby:

Bobby and his daughter (bibs 398 and 399) on the line, with me (bib 403) in my own little world. Moments later, another 50 kids would crowd into the front.

Many (all?) of the sixth-graders from the Community School of Davidson were running this race as the culmination of some P.E. class training.  Virtually all of them lined up on the front line.  When the starter yelled “Go!”, I had to keep my arms in tight because I was surrounded by little kids that barely came up to my waist – I was terrified that I’d inadvertently catch one in the temple with an elbow.

Using Bill’s analogy, the kids all shot out like fireworks, reached their apex at about 200 meters, and then came trickling back.  I was probably in about 50th place at the first 200 meters.  By the quarter mile, I was in fifth.

I pushed the pace early, but Bobby still passed me within the first quarter.  We turned left off South Street and onto the greenway where I continued to push.  I came through the first mile in 6-flat, fast for me these days (I went out in 6:22 last week), and watched my heart rate climb to 170 bpm.

With the 6:00 start, I thought I might have a shot at a sub-20, but I was pretty spent after that hard first (albeit downhill) mile.  The last 2 miles, I watched my pace slow and my heart rate climb (it stayed pegged at over 170 bpm for the duration of the race).  I hung on for dear life and struggled to find a pace I could maintain, which turned out to be about 6:50.  Shortly after the first mile, I passed one guy who had clearly gone out much too fast – he was practically crawling when I passed him and I wasn’t exactly setting any land speed records.

After that, it was a second week of running in no man’s land, with no one close enough to make a run at, and no one behind close enough to make a run at me.  I finished in 20:27, good enough for fifth overall, and second in the 40 and over age group.  I was pretty pleased with the time as it was some 35 seconds faster than last week and I felt much better than I had in the Earthfare 5K.  The recovery from my Boston butt-kicking was apparently making some headway, finally.

Bobby posted some nice pics on Facebook, and I snagged a few more from DavidsonNews.net.  Check them out:

My finish – always fiddling with the stupid watch.  Check out how stoic and official Dave and Chad are – they are focused on their work!  I’m so non-observant that I never realized they were at the finish until I saw Bobby’s pics.

Dean’s worse than me about messing with his watch. I think he lost a spot to this kid while stopping the watch (in his defense, the kid was 21-years-old).

Bobby and I picking up our age group awards. This was the most time I spent in front of him all day.

14-year-old Malia Ellington, who attends CSD, won overall in 19:00. Pretty impressive stuff – could she be the next Alana Hadley?

I iced down my Achilles during the awards presentation.  Then Dean and I talked a little more afterward.  He continues to vie for the ROC Series championship.  Currently, he’s only 2 points behind the leader (and I’m thinking there may have been an error as the scoring shows the leader, Andy Metzger as scoring more points than Dean this week, even though Dean beat him.  So Dean may actually be leading.)

That’s it.  I felt so much better this week, no chest pains to be found.  I actually ran 40 miles, about back to my weekly average before tapering for Boston.  With all my injuries healed to the point where they’re only minor little pains, I think/hope that I can start gradually ramping the mileage back up, even throwing in an occasional workout here and there.  See you on the road, trail, or track soon!

PS – I read this article today about fellow Tarheel alum Shalane Flanagan.  I think it’s fate that the 2 of us run the Boston Marathon on the same day. Go Heels!

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One Response to “Recovering…the Davidson Spartan 5K”

  1. Tara Says:

    I tried to send you a message on FB but I could not for some reason. Forgive the friend request…I cancelled it. Anyway, I got you a running Spartan dude tshirt from the 5k. We had a couple no shows and I grabbed one for you after reading your blog on the DART page. I was the person that ordered the shirts. Do you want it?

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