Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Dirt Circuit: When Marathoning Met Hiking

Last spring,  I won a free entry into the Dirt Circuit Endurance race at Panther Creek State Park.  I was both excited and terrified at the same time.  I had never done a trail race or an endurance race for that matter.  How could I not do it when it was being put on by Dirty Bird Events which just happens to be connected to Ani Roma, the health teacher at our school.

Now, you would think one would train for such an event.  Well, I kind of did.  I was training for the Marine Corps Marathon anyway, so I would use it as a training run, a really long training run.  I didn't want to go to the race totally unprepared.  This summer, I had the chance to do a little scouting when I went on a hike with Missy Kane.  It didn't look that bad.  So, why not?  Why not try it?

A week out from the race, the forecast  looked miserable.  They were calling for an 80 percent change of rain.  On my first trail race, that wasn't something I was looking forward to.  I was beginning to think it might not be such a good idea.  Ani said there's still time.  The forecast may chance.  Sure enough, it did.

Saturday morning, I drove from Knoxville to Panther Creek.  It was only an hour a way.  I pulled into the park before daylight and saw base camp sitting down at the bottom of a hill.  I was a little worried about taking my car down there, but I watch another car pull down there.  So, why not?

A lot of people were camped out right along the trail.  I later figured out they were mostly relay teams and it paid to have your stuff right next to the trail.  I'll have to remember that for next year.  I picked up packet.  #13.....was that good thing or bad thing?  I wasn't sure.

One of the things I immediately noticed about trail runners is that they are friendly.  I think everyone spoke to me that morning before the race.  They seemed like such nice people.  Soon it would be race time.

My strategy for the race was simple.  Run the first 4 laps to get my training run in for the week and then survive the rest of the day injury free.  When the race started, the first thing I heard from someone in the back was they are going out way too fast.  Don't they know we'll be hear all day.  I slowed a bit to make sure I didn't burn out too quickly.

After a relatively flat start, the trail turned to cross the bridge.  I think it was about a mile long nature trail.  That's when I met the first obstacle of the day, walnuts.  (I think they were walnuts.)  I kicked a few out of the way as I ran, hoping they would all be off the trail in the matter of a few laps.  As the trail wandered through the woods, it was like being on a hike with Missy Kane.  Wait, make that Sharon Spezia where you go at pretty fast clip.  

As we were about a mile into the race, we encountered the second obstacle, one I would face two more times during the race.  With no warning, a deer flew across the trail, cutting the pack in half.  Seconds later, another deer followed.  Note to self: Don't get killed by a deer.

After a long uphill, the trail headed back down to the bridge we had crossed earlier.  We hung a right and headed towards the campgrounds and across the road.  Once again it was a nice trail for a race.  It was wide enough to pass and pretty smooth.   Eventually, I was mile 2 on the ground.  It wasn't long before the trail hung a left to a long straightaway.  At the end of that straightaway, we were greeted with a short hill.  It was steep, but  didn't last long.  After crossing the road at the entrance to the park, we went up another hill.  At the top of that hill was a beautiful view of the park and a long downhill. I can't imagine what that hill would have been like to run up it which was what they did last year.  

I love hills.  I flew down it.  At the bottom of the hill was a left hand turn back to the flats of base camp.  I came around a corner and heard cheering.  I had completed my first lap of the dirt circuit.

The laps went by quickly, especially the first four laps.  At 3:00:00 into the run, I was feeling good and went on autopilot, running when I felt like it and doing a lot of brisk walking.  I couldn't believe I still had almost 9 hours l left in the race.  I went with my switching shirts every two hours.  I wanted to make sure I felt fresh all day long.

After lap 4, I slowed it down a little bit.  There was no need to hurry.  It was strange.  Most of the time, I was alone on the trail.  On the long straightaways, I could see someone in the distance.  Every once in a while, I would run with someone for  a moment before one of us would leave the other behind.  By that time, people started lapping me.  I expected that.  What I didn't expect was the kind words of encouragement from each of them.  It was great.

At the end of each lap, I looked forward to the cheers from Ani and Ryan Roma.  I loved it.  They made you want to do finish another lap. There was also food including peanut butter sandwiches and hot dogs. I got used to taking a moment each lap to refuel, whether it was food or some Gatorade.

After my eighth lap, I stopped to send a text to my parents to let them know I was still alive.  Incidentally, they didn't read it until I got home that night. I was around 23 miles into the race. I was so happy, I set off on lap number 9.  I made it around the nature trail.  I was heading down the hill to cross the bridge when a heavy downpour came.  I started running.  What else was I going to do.  Along the flats, I found a covered bench.  I stood on it for a few seconds until I hear the rumble of thunder.  I took off again.  At first I tried to dodge the puddles.  I soon realized that was all in vain.  I was going to get wet anyway.  I kept running.  I ran past Mile 2.  I hoped the rain would let up.  It didn't.  The trails were becoming rivers.  At times I was running through ankle deep water.  I ran faster and faster.  I just wanted to get back to base camp and my car.  The rain didn't let up.

Soaked, I made my way to the starting line.  I grabbed a bite to eat and headed to my car.  I went ahead and moved it back out onto the paved parking lot.  The last thing I wanted was to get stuck.  I completely changed clothes, waited a few minutes for it to stop raining.  Then, I made the decision to get in a couple of more laps.  I wanted to make it over 30 miles.  The laps were 2.95 miles.  Two more laps it would be.

On lap 10, I started to feel it.  My legs were getting weak.  I really noticed it coming down the last hill.  I was going to quit until Ryan told me one more lap and I would have done my first ultra.  Why not?  I was already there.

I struggled on lap 11.  My legs were getting sore.  I had a blister from running in wet socks and shoes.  Wouldn't you know there was a road block with about a 1/2 mile to go.  A deer stood in the middle of the trail and wouldn't move.  Finally, he must have got bored and ran away.  I finished that lap and let them know that would be all of me.

I loved running that race.  Next time, I'll be more prepared.  I'll know what to expect.  But 32.45 miles for my first trail race, first endurance race, and first ultra, I will take it.  It made me wonder what else is possible.

In all, it was a great race.  I loved the Dirt Circuit. It was the biggest challenge I have faced in my running career.  Next time, I will conquer it.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The First Steps: Southern Tennessee Power Classic Half Marathon

Last weekend, I saw a weather forecast that something about temperatures dipping into the 40s.  As a runner, I was thrilled beyond belief.  I knew what I had to do.  I had to find a race.  I searched the world over and found the Southern Tennessee Power Classic held in Winchester, Tennessee.  In case you don't know where that's at, well let's say you can't get there from here.  It's in Southern Middle Tennessee next to the Nissan Plant. 

Upon arrival in Winchester on Friday night, I found it was a pretty cool city.  It had the classic town square with the court house in the middle. The packet pickup was at the Oldham Theater that probably looked just like it did in 1955.  You felt like you had just stepped back in time.

On race morning, I have to say it was a tad bit chilly.  The sign out front of one of the stores said 37 degrees, but I'm pretty sure it might have been forty.  As I looked around, I felt a little out of place.  Everyone had on gloves, long sleeve shirts, tights---you know, winter gear.  I was wearing shorts and a technical t-shirt.  What were these people thinking?  It was beautiful weather for a run.

At five minutes before the start, no one was anywhere near the start.  It was as if there was no hurry.  Even when the starter began making announcements, only a few gathered near the start line.  It wasn't long before they fired up the old pick-up truck to signal it was about time for the race to start.  Before I knew it, the race started. 

It was strange.  I'm used to a bunch of people taking off as fast as they can before realizing they went out too fast.  Usually, it's really crowded for the first few miles.  Not on this race.  So, I settled into my pace right along with three or four other people.

Now, the streets were open to traffic, but there weren't too many people out.  At every intersection, a police officer or fireman was there to direct traffic.  I don't know where they found all those people.  Maybe everyone in the town works for the police or fire department.  They were so friendly and encouraging.

After the first mile and a half, I settled into a run/walk.  I ran until my pace hit 8:51 and then I walked until it made it's way up to 8:57.  It was a little different way to do run walk.  The plan was to increase the lower number by a second each couple of miles.  By the end of the race, I would be running around an 8:57 pace if all went according to plan.

Well, the first half of the race went great. Every couple of miles I was greeted by an enthusiastic water stop.  That made my day.  They had to be cold.

I hit the halfway point 58:03.  I thought that was pretty good.  I was hoping I could come close to that pace on the back half of the course.  What I didn't know was what was waiting for me just past mile 7.  The half marathon course split off from the marathon course.  As soon as we made that left hand turn, something was different.  There was about a 10 mile per hour headwind.  When you're doing a run/walk, those walks can get really cold.  All I could think about was losing time.  I pushed it a little harder on my runs.  I felt a little lonely out there.  I was running pretty much by myself.  I looked back at one point and saw no one.  Was I last?

Finally, the course turned.  I saw mile marker 24--the marathon.  I looked at my watch.  I had 22 minutes  to cover the last 2.2 miles in order to get that 2:00:00 half.  That's when the big downhill began.  I knew there was one more uphill so I tried to gain as much time as I could.

I watched my watch closely over those last two miles, realizing a PR was mine. When that finish line came into view, I knew I could make a 1:57 and I did.  My official time was 1:57:48.  It wasn't really planned, but I'll take it.  It was over 5 minutes faster than a couple of weeks ago. 

I feel out of shape right know.  That was until I realized I pushing myself to a new level.  I feel exactly how I did when I first started running except then my pace was around a 13 minute mile.  When I did a run/walk, my run pace was lucky to get near 11:00 minute miles.  To think, in five months, I was able to get that down to a 9:08 pace for a half.  Now, my run/walk pace is around 9:00 minute miles for a half and I run at somewhere between a 7:00 to 8:00 minute pace on the run portion. With some serious training, I can get that to be my new overall pace.  It can be done.  Why not me?  Why not on March 29th?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The I'M POSSIBLE Dream: A Study in Success and Failure

Don't talk about it; be about it.  Once upon a time, I was  an AAU basketball coach.  It wasn't uncommon that one of our players would decorate our vans with those words.  So tonight, it's time to stop talking about it and time to start being about it.  So what is this I'M POSSIBLE dream?

It started out as a Facebook post on the Educator's for Excellence page:

You know what I hate. I hate it when you put a bunch of quotes around your room and you start reading them. You realize that might need to take your own advice.
As some of you might know, a couple of years ago, I lost a lot of weight training with the Covenant Health Marathon Biggest Winner team. (By the way, they are accepting applications for this year--message me for details.) After I was named the Biggest Winner, I spent about the last 18 months of my life helping others along their journeys. I love doing that. It's who I am. I think I've done an o.k. job of it.
Then, this morning I started reading the quotes I put on the wall. Don't meet your goals; destroy them. Grit is doing what you don't want to do to be who you want to be. It never gets easier; you just get stronger. Celebrate every mile of the marathon as if it were the finish line. I read quote after quote and I realized what I needed to do. I have got to be an example to my students. I was successful in school. To show them how I succeeded in school wouldn't be much of a story.
What happens if I set an impossible goal and go for it during the year? What would happen if I put it out there that I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon in Knoxville on March 29th? Right now, I am no where close. I would be on the border line between below basic and basic when it comes to marathoning.
The story may or may not motivate my students. But, what it would do for me is give me a sense of empathy for what my students go through in my class. Some of them face some big challenges. Some of them have a long way to go. What does it take to do something that you have no idea whether you really can or not? I have decided to make my quest to be a Boston Qualifier a study in how to accomplish the impossible. Of course, it might be study on how to deal with failure. Either way, I hope I learn something that will make me a better teacher. If I qualify for Boston, there's a certain teacher out there that promised she would run it with me. I am going to hold her to it.

An I'M POSSIBLE Dream: A study in success and failure---That's the working title of what I'm doing.  There's so much to think about.  There are so many questions to research.  It's time to stop talking about it and being about it.

How fast do I really need to be to qualify for Boston?
How many miles do I need to be running each week?
How hard do I have to train between now and March 29th?
Is it crazy to run Knoxville as a Boston Qualifier?
What do I do about doubters?
Who do I have that can help me?
What other questions do I need to ask?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day One: The Adventure Begins

It's summertime, time for a new look and some new goals.  For the next 100 days, my blog is a little different.  I've got big goals to accomplish and only 100 days to do it.

Day One of my 100 day challenge actually started yesterday with a 5k that I almost didn't run.  You see, the day before I landed on my foot wrong.  What I thought was a little twisted ankle that I could walk off turned into excruciating pain by that night.  Pain relievers didn't even touch it.  It was getting worse.  I couldn't put weight on it.

I was messaging a friend about it.  She joked about calling Mr. Migayi.  That sparked an idea.  I knew someone who might be able to perform such magic.  After only a few minutes that seemed like torture, my foot was healed, kind of.

The next morning I took off to the race to meet Kelsey and Brittney.  I didn't have any big goals.  At this point, I wanted to finish the race.  That was it.  I didn't even care if I had to walk it.

The race started out by going up hill.  I love races like that.  At least it sorts out the crowd a little.  I made it up the long hill, but not without noticing that it I felt a little pain on the side of my foot.  Not good.  It was then I knew I had to back off.  I planned to go to a run/walk.  Each half mile, I planned to walk. 

It wasn't long before I saw Fast Phil.  He had helped me when I first started running.  I owe a lot to him.  So, I decided to use him as a pacer without him knowing it.  My goal was to catch up to him and take a walk break.  That I did on five different occasions. As I came to the last walk break, I looked at my watch and knew I had to pick up the pace a little which meant passing Fast Phil.  I had to keep my pace under 9:00 minutes and I knew it was going to be close.   Luckily, it was pretty much downhill.  I let the hill carry me, went by Fast Phil and finished at 27:42 or something like that.  It didn't matter to me.  I was hurt and running conservatively.  I didn't want to injure myself.  Even with that, I had just ran what would have been a P.R. a year ago.  It was a tough course.

For the next half hour, I cheered friends as they crossed the line.  We stood around and talked until the awards ceremony.   I always like to hear the times for my age group so I can see how far I am away from getting one of those awards.  Wouldn't you know it that when it came to the 45-49 year olds, they announced my name.  Sure, I was third, but at least it wasn't 3rd place out of 3 runners.  I was number 3 out of 11!  It was my first medal ever that I actually won for something athletic.

I thought what a great way to start off the 100 days of summer.  If the first day could be this good, what would the rest of the summer have in store for me?  That's when I decided why should I leave it up to fate?
If you want a different life.....
You have to live your life differently.
You have to do different things.
You have to think differently.
You have to be different!
That's what this whole summer is about for me.  From Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend, I am living a DIFFERENT LIFE.
Tomorrow, you can read all about it.  Day 2 is all about the plan for living differently in
the Summer of 2014

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Green Legs and Ham: Covenant Health Marathon Recap

I have never been one for coordinating outfits for a run.  So, when two of my friends and fellow bloggers Run Britney Run and theGoGirl told me we had a theme, my first response was fear.  What would they come up with?  They are young.  It can be scary when you let other people come up with ideas of what you should wear.

Green Legs and Ham

They came up with green legs and ham.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but those are lime green compression sleeves.  Yes, that's Waldo.  Now, I don't think Waldo had anything to do with Dr. Seuss, but it worked.  Waldo (Scott) is such a ham.  We had to have him on the team.

I loved seeing my team on the morning of race day. They helped me to stay focused through all the prerace photo ops.  I had one goal......finish the half in less than 2:00:00.  Last year, I missed it by 38 seconds. I was o.k. with that last year because I didn't even plan to come close to that time.  I would have been o.k. with a 2:15:00 last year because it was 45 minutes to a hour faster than I had been running.

Normally, I would have been completely social.  This time was different.  I kept to myself, only talking to my relay team to plan exchanges and reuniting with them to come into the stadium.  The plan was for me to run the first leg of the relay while I  was running the half.

After several photos with the Covenant Health Marathon Biggest Winner team, I made my way outside where I found Amelia and Kaycee.  For Amelia, it was her first race.  For Kaycee, it was her first half marathon. These two ladies happen to teach with me.  Somehow, I talked them in to doing 13.1.  I loved their tribute to Tim Tebow.

February training run with Missy Kane

I lined up early.  It wasn't really early.  They had been asking people to move towards the starting line for a few minutes.  It was cold. People weren't exactly moving fast.  I found my spot in Corral B. This was a new place for me.  I wasn't used to being toward the front of the pack.  I knew I had to be upfront to have a chance.

It's cool to have parents who don't mind to serve as paparazzi.

The gun sounded.  Before I knew it, it was time to run. For the first tenth of a mile, I had one mission: position myself for a photograph.  It wasn't easy.  Some tall guy kept getting in the line of sight.  I knew where my dad was, but it wasn't going to work.  Somehow, it did.

See what I mean?  That guy is tall.  He kept getting in my picture.

With the first incline, I tried to manage my pace.  I didn't want to go too fast and burn out in the first quarter of a mile.  I didn't want to lose the race either in its first few moments.  I held my pace right at goal pace.  I was so thankful when the course turned left and headed through UT's campus.

The first few miles of the race were easy.  I kept an 8:55 pace.  One thing I've learned in racing is to keep your watch on average pace rather than lap pace.  It gives you a better idea of where you are at, especially in the later miles.  Anyway, I kept the pace because I had a relay exchange to get to.  One thing I knew was even if I didn't get my sub 2 hour half, I wanted to get the team off to a good start.

I passed the 10k mark.  I was just off of my PR pace from a couple of weeks ago.  I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Was I too fast?  I wasn't sure.  The relay exchange zone was approaching.  I was looking for Waldo.  Yes, it was the book coming to life.  In a sea of people, I had to find him.  As I got closer, I could see the red and white strips of his shirt.  I took of the relay slap bracelet and my race belt that held my relay bib on it.  I made the exchange with Scott and dumped my belt hoping Kelsey would pick it up.

The exchange
I picked up the pace as I headed toward Noelton.  It's a serious hill.  I calculated the time.  I had already banked two minutes.  It was time to be a little conservative and walk the hill. I knew I would lose a little time in exchange for being fresh for the next relatively flat 3 miles on the greenway.

That's just the beginning of Noelton.  There's another hill
 after this one.
At the top of the hill, I grabbed a much needed water and proceeded to take on the next three miles of greenway.  I got in the zone.  I had to reach Mile 10 by the 1:30:00 mark in order to have a 30:00 minute 5k left.  Though I had to weave through a few runners who were slowing, I managed to hit the 10 mile mark right at 1:30:00.

A few moments later, I made it to the Fort and a couple of more hills.  With my watch reading a 9:00 minute pace, I knew I had a little room.  I walked most of the hills getting into the Fort Sanders area.  Once at Children's Hospital, I took off again.  I took when little walk break on a slight uphill and then I kicked it into high gear. I was still on pace for a sub 2.

I passed mile 12 with around 11 minutes left.  All I had to do was maintain a 10 minute pace.  I came down the hill by the Knoxville Art Museum where the marathon and half marathon splits.  I was thinking about taking a walk break going up the hill into the stadium until I heard the cheers of my relay team.  Then I knew I had to run it through with no stopping.

I was trying to smile but I was dead.
I picked up the pace.  I made my way up the hill to the stadium.  I took about a 15 second walk break to catch my breath.  Then, I raced into the stadium and to the finish line.

Official Time: 159:19
I crossed the finish line in 1:59:19 and made my way to the VIP tent where my parents waited for me. I was so happy and so appreciative of my parents supporting me.  I did it!!!!  Then, I realized I was freezing cold.

That wasn't the highlight of the day.  About two and a half hours later, I got to cross the finish line with my relay team.  I think that was as much fun as finishing my race.  Thank you Kelsey, Brittney, and Scott for making it happen.

The day wasn't over.  I waited a little while longer for our friend Phil Kaplan to cross the finish line after doing the marathon.  Fast Phil is the one who helped me become Flyin' Bryan.  I owe a lot of my success to him.

In the end, a good time was had by all at the Covenant Health Marathon.  For me, that time was a PR.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Not Me!!!

This Sunday, I will run the Covenant Health Half Marathon.  I've never been more excited.  I'm going to try to go for a sub 2:00:00 half. I have no idea whether I'm going to make it.  I know I can do 10 miles at a 9:00 minute pace.  I know I can do 6.2 at an 8:48 pace.  I am going to go for it.  I am going to go for an 8:57 pace.  That'll bring me in under two hours.  Can I do it?  Somebody's going to do it that day.  Somebody is going to push themselves  to their limits and beyond to get that time. If it's going to be somebody, #whynotme?

I have to say one of my best encouragers has been one of my training partners, Kelsey.  It's one of these things where we are good at believing in each other.  (By the way, when you see me wearing bright green compression sleeves and a bright green shirt, it's her fault.)  I have a new energy in my training that I never have had before.  You see, I was kind of helping her get quicker.  I would give her my workouts.  Then, I started figuring it might be good if I did what I told her, but a little higher level since I was the "coach" in situation. 

The problem with being a coach is that you want to be better than the people you coach.  Well, she's been getting faster and stronger.  Just yesterday, she did 10 real pushups which is 10 more than she did just a few weeks ago.  It won't be long before she catches up to me.  I can only do about 25 or 30.  Here I am, as she gets faster, I've had to get faster.  I can't be out of breath when I'm trying to run with her.  I've got to act like I'm the one in good shape.  It's not getting any easier.  I love it.  That's what having people to train with is all about.  Who else can make you get up early, run 4 miles with each one getting faster, walk two miles, and then go for a 5 mile hike up a mountain all before lunch?

Covenant Health Marathon Biggest Winner Team
The most exciting thing about this weekend is that I know it's just the beginning of a whole new me when it comes to running.  I've always wanted to qualify for Boston.  This weekend marks the start of a six month intensive plan to give myself a great shot at qualifying when I run the Marine Corps Marathon.  I know I am know where near in shape enough to do it right now.  I can run a 7:30 mile for 2 miles.  In six months, I hope to do that for 26 miles. I know it's against the odds, but somewhere out there, someone will do what I am hoping to do.  So, why couldn't it be me?  #whynotme?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Chasing Snakes

As St. Patrick's Day approaches, what more appropriate race to run than the Chasing Snakes 10k in Johnson City, Tennessee.

I love the race.  What better reason could you have to run a race than to support an interfaith network that helps homeless families?  Plus, I like that it's somewhere different.  

Back in 2009, I started running.  I ran the Straw Plains 10k and I was sick.  I either had the flu, a stomach bug, or food poisoning.  I felt embarrassed when I crossed the finish line.  I was one of the last 10k participants.  Thankfully, there was a half marathon that day and I wasn't the last to cross the finish line.  

So, I made the decision that day to find another race.  I searched the internet, but couldn't find any in Knoxville.  I broadened my search and found the Chasing Snakes 10k  Perfect!!!   No one would no me there.  It was it's first year as a race. It didn't matter how I finished.  I'm glad it didn't.  I finished in 235th place out of 260 finishers.  I ran it again in 2011 and 2012.  It didn't get better.  It got worse.  I finished in 1:21:42 and 1:16:52.  

Today, I returned to the Chasing Snakes with new goals in mind.  I wanted a PR.  I was hoping to go under 56:00 minutes, but wasn't sure if it was possible.  I knew I could come close.  I went into it with the attitude that whatever happens, happens.  I'm going to run at a comfortable pace and enjoy it.

I had hoped to stay at a hotel in Johnson City the night before the race, but with it being Bristol weekend, there wasn't a room in town.  So, I woke up at 4:45 a.m., took a shower, got dressed, and ate some French Toast before I headed out for the two hour drive.  It seemed to take forever and I was tired.  It didn't matter, I had to get there.

Around 7:00 a.m., I pulled into the church parking lot.  Only a few people were there, mostly workers setting up for the day.  I headed into the church, picked up my bib and my t-shirt before heading back to my car to relax for a little while.  I was ready.  What for, I wasn't sure, but I was ready for whatever the day brought me.

After a short warm-up run, I heard them calling runners to starting.  For the first time ever, I made my way towards the front of the pack.  I always lined up at the back of the pack, but it was time to start realizing I didn't belong back there if I wanted a chance of getting a PR.  There was announcer with an Irish accent, America the Beautiful, and a traditional Irish blessing.  Before I knew it, an air horn signaled the start of the race.

I made myself a promise to not check my pace during the first mile.  It was mostly downhill and I knew I would be running a little faster than I wanted.  I couldn't help myself.  At about 0.7 miles, I glanced at my watch.  It read 8:42.  I thought that was a little fast, but I kept on running.  The second mile was mainly flat and worked on maintaining my pace.  The third mile brought some rolling hills.  Somehow, I was able to make it to the 5k mark at 27:00 minutes.  Was it possible to get a 54:00 minute 5k?  Not really.  There were some short, steep hills ahead.

Mile 4 wasn't bad.  I kept the pace.  One thing I noticed when I passed the water stops that they were WATER stops.  I was hoping for a little flavor.

Mile 5 was were I decided to slow down a little.  Why should I kill myself if I wasn't going to make it to a sub 54:00 minute 10k?  Part of me wanted to make sure there was something left to get when I did the flying pig 10k in May.  As I approached one small hill, I made the decision to walk it.  It wasn't that long and it wouldn't hurt my PR.  As I came to the top of the hill, a runner tried to give me a couple of words of encouragement.  "Hang in there!" he said as he passed me. Little did he know I was just waiting for the long downhill on the other side.  Sure enough, about half way down the hill, I passed him.  That wouldn't be the last time.

As we approached the last hill, I walked it.  It was short and wouldn't really affect my overall time. The guy comes by again and tells me I'm almost there.  It was time to have some fun. 

I made it to the top of the hill and walked a little more.  I looked at my watch.  I was 0.6 of a mile from the finish line and it was all downhill from there.  It was time for me to fly.  I took off running, building my speed with each step.  I turned the corner to find a nice gentle downhill and that guy.  I let the hill carry me.  Before long, I was passing that guy with about a quarter mile left.  

As I hit the 6 mile mark, I checked my watch.  I had less than 2 minutes to make it to the finish line to make a sub 55:00 minute 10k.   I picked up the pace yet again.  I turned the final corner to head down the home stretch.  I hated to do it, but there were a couple of runners right there with about a 0.1 of a mile to go.  I sprinted past them.  I wanted that sub 55:00.  I watched the clock.  It was going to happen!!!

 And it did!!!!!!!!!

As a footnote, that guy finished about two minutes behind me. When we went into the church for the awards, he sat down next to me.  He looks over, figures out its me, and gets up and goes to sit somewhere else.  That ended up being a good thing.  He was replaced with a couple of people who ran the Pig  and MCM last year.  It was fun to talk marathons with them.  I ended up with an official time of 54:45.  They used the gun time.  Apparently, the chip timing didn't work or they haven't posted it yet. Even though it was a great race, it was also a kind of fast field in my age group.  I finished 14/17.  The last place guy in my age group did it in 57:00 minutes.  What happened to all the slow people????

Overall, I was happy.  I had fun.  I ran my race.