Our Boys 2013

As many of you know, throughout my epic quest of qualifying and running in the Boston Marathon, I’ve also a pursued a mini-quest of winning a race somewhere.  That quest continues and yesterday, with a slew of races being run in the local area, was one of the best days in recent memory to go for it.  There was a race out there that I could win.  The problem was finding it.

So I scoured the Internetz in search of the perfect race, and I fired off a few emails to find out where all the fast kids would be.  I scratched off all races with prize money because prize money attracts fast runners like blood attracts sharks – so no Run Wild (Fam), On A Mission (Crockfords), or Rhythm and Run (Bobby).  I emailed Bobby and he told me that he thought the First Assembly 5K was this weekend, the race where I finished third last year, behind Bobby and another guy but I couldn’t find it online anywhere, so I looked elsewhere (also, it was about 2.7 miles – I’d like the race I win to at least be the correct distance).

This whole search for a win business is tricky too because I’m trying to do it while I’m firmly entrenched in the framework of getting/maintaining long run shape.  If I put all my eggs in the winning-a-small-race basket, I’d have a much better shot.  I could pick a small race well in advance, train specifically for that race/distance, and focus on winning.  But I don’t have that luxury.

Anyway, long story short (oops, too late), Laura was able to secure a free race entry into the Our Boys 10K through the Huntersville Concord Triathlon Club, so that made the decision for me.

I rolled into the Harris Road School parking lot at about 7:30.  The first person I saw in the parking lot was Clayton – so I was already looking at second place.  We chatted for a second and he told me that Joe Rao was running.  I’d been there five minutes and already I was hoping for third place at best.  Seconds later, I spotted Martin Harrison, a speedy Davidson-area master.  Fourth.  Sigh.

I’m going to spare you a lot of suspense.  This race sucked for me.  Here’s what went wrong.

1) Gastrointestinal distress

I read this article on Thursday and then proceeded to ignore its advice on Friday.  I was exhausted Friday night after a day of lawn mowing, so Friday evening I was too tired to cook my typical pre-race pasta dinner.  Instead, I microwaved a couple of high fiber veggie burgers.  Yes, high fiber.  I might as well have eaten a box of ExLax or drank a gallon of that stuff they give you the day before your colonoscopy (and all the forty-somethings just groaned).  I kept waking up all night with ‘issues’.  Saturday morning before the race, I destroyed a Harris Road bathroom stall.  My apologies to the Harris Road custodial staff.

Multiple times during the race, I slowed to a crawl as I fought with my digestive tract.

2) No watch

I forgot the Garmin.  And as any regular reader of this blog knows, I desperately need that thing to rein me in.  I always think I feel great at the beginning of a race and with nothing to hold me back, I will go out too fast.  Which, while I had no timepiece to confirm/deny this, I’m pretty sure I did as I hung tightly behind Clayton for the first mile or so and he ran a 39:11, faster than my PR by some 45 seconds.

That’s basically it, the usual, just me being dumb.  I hung on for dear life and tried to get out of Joe’s way as I kept inadvertently stepping in front of him on his 2nd of 2 loops of the 5K course.  Kevin (Ballantine, the Gypsy Kid – remember him?) jumped in to help me out with less than a half mile or so to go.  I knew things were bad when I felt like we had sped up to an unbearably fast pace.  I asked Kevin how fast we were going (watchless, remember?) and he answered “About 6:50 pace” which meant I had been running significantly slower than 6:50 pace.  Ugh, very ugh.

I hobbled it in, very nearly tripping and falling when we hit the grass on the final stretch.  42:51, fifth place.  Oh well, it was a good training run.

I had fun hanging out with Clayton, Kevin, Joe, and a couple of the Wells Fargo Charlotte Running club guys, Steve Bassett and John Troutman, but my run was far from impressive.  Joe easily won the 10K, and Chas did the same in the 5K even after recently running a 100-mile ultra – impressive stuff.  Oh and there was even a rare Todd Hartung sighting, the former DARTer turned DABTer (I just made this up – Davidson Area Bicycling Team) thanks to a couple of torn meniscuses (menisci?  You find the plural of meniscus and let me know, please) and subsequent surgeries.

Saturday night, I became a running spectator as I shot over to Concord to watch my friend-turned-race-director, Todd Spears, direct the On A Mission 5K, complete with newly acquired high tech race management gadgetry.  Chad (Crockford) destroyed the field and took home $125 prize, as did his wife Danielle (although Danielle faced a stiff challenge from some girl none of us knew who was just a few strides back).  Mike Putman, a UCRR guy that I met at the Myrtle Beach marathon, dropped an impressive 18:06 for a fellow 40-something guy.  And Kathy (Rink) showed why she’s the area’s dominant female master by scoring a third place run even AFTER running the Charlotte Krispy Kreme challenge (4+ miles AND 12 doughnuts) earlier that day.  These guys – and gals – are all personal heroes of mine.

Just another day on my road to Boston.

Oh, and for those of you that are saying, “That slow old guy needs to quit dreaming.  No way he could ever win a race.”  Look here – this was one of the races I was looking at – I should have run it!  Oh well, what can you do?  They’re out there – I just have to find and run the right one.

And one more thing.  I have heard this multiple times from people that are now faster than me:  “I never even thought about trying to win a race until I read your blog.  Now I’m looking too!” If you never had the idea until reading my blog, you are now required to check in with me before running any cherry pickers.  Sorry, I didn’t make this rule.  Okay, maybe I did.

Here are some departing pictures from yesterdays races.  Enjoy.  I’ll see you on the roads, tracks, and trails.

If you look closely, you can see my Triple C baseball hat on the second row.  Not sure what I'm looking down at since we know it certainly wasn't a running watch.

If you look closely, you can see my Triple C baseball hat on the second row. Not sure what I’m looking down at since we know it certainly wasn’t a running watch.  That’s Joe on the front row trying to fool everybody into thinking he’s slow by wearing a Bean cotton tee with the sleeves rolled up.  He’s not fooling anybody.

Kevin ran the Our Boys 5K course and pushed one of the Hawkins boys in a wheelchair.  Apparently, the Gypsy Kid (I should say (former Gypsy Kid - he's all clean shaven these days )is a nice guy.  Who knew?  (That's Steve Bassett raising his arms - I think he and Kevin took turns pushing the chair.)

Kevin ran the Our Boys 5K course and pushed one of the Hawkins boys in a wheelchair. Apparently, the Gypsy Kid (I should say former Gypsy Kid – he’s all clean shaven these days ) is a nice guy. Who knew? (That’s Steve Bassett raising his arms – I think he and Kevin took turns pushing the chair.)

Todd, playing the role of race director.

Todd, playing the role of race director at the On A Mission 5K.

Chad, Danielle, and Kathy chat just before the start of the On A Mission 5K.

Chad, Danielle, Kathy, and Mike chat just before the start of the On A Mission 5K.

And they're off!  Chad won pretty easily and Mike made us masters proud with an impressive second place, easily besting all those kids on front row.

And they’re off! Chad won easily and Mike made us masters proud with an impressive second place, besting all those kids on the front row.

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