Well...I was going to run the Blue Grey Half Marathon tomorrow but won't be doing it. Oh well, I hadn't registered and had planned to drive the two and a half hours there early enough to register same day...but now I won't need to. So...since I couldn't go do the half on Sunday, I was looking for a local race to do today and this 5K seemed to fit the bill.
This race takes place in the Norfolk Botanical Gardens with winding paved trails with beautiful scenery...even in the fall/winter months. I have run the trails in a different race last year so was somewhat familiar with the course. It has narrow paved paths with many tight corners and a couple of small bridges...not a real good place to expect a PR but I wanted to try for one anyway.
I woke to a beautiful morning...the temperature in the mid-40's with very little noticeable wind. It was forecasted to only get into the mid to high 50's. I ate breakfast and drove to the Gardens as the sun was coming up. I was cruising down the highway not paying attention and noticed that I had missed my turn off to the Garden but the race doesn't start till 9:45 so there was no hurry and I made it to registration with plenty of time to spare.
Registration was a breeze and I got my bib, timing band and goodie bag. At 9:00, the kid's 1 mile race starts and it was fun to watch them dash away and return a few minutes later...our future racers.
I did about a half mile warm up a few minutes before the start of our race. After getting to the starting line, one of the runners comes up to me and says...I remember you. His face looks familiar but I can't place where I know him from until he says he is from Albuquerque...and then it dawns on me that this is the guy that keeps coming to race here and has beaten me twice this year, at the Chesapeake Bay 10K in April and the Fleet Week Half Marathon in October...He took first in both and I came in second behind him. We talked quite a bit before the race started and after the finish. Seems like he has been on business trips each time...he did something for NASA... and takes these opportunities to race in the places he gets sent to...and...most of his trips bring him to Hampton. The horn sounds at 9:45 and we are off. Even though I started a row back from the front, there are runners sprinting to the front from both sides at the start and it is very had to maneuver around some of them, especially with the tight, narrow turns on the path. I had planned to try to keep up with my new friend from Albuquerque for as long as I could...although talking to him at the start, I knew I wouldn't be able to stay with him very long this time because he is pretty fast, but maybe in the future... but during the initial surge on the start, I lost him to a pack that was running way faster than I intended. None the less, the first mile comes in at 5:58 and it seems like I have expended a lot of energy weaving and dodging the other runners because I am breathing hard. There is also a runner that I think is in my age group that is pacing off of me because I passed him about the half mile point and I could sense him in back of me...he was breathing hard too...so I could actually hear him. At about the 1.5 mile point he moves ahead and I decide to pace off of him about 50 yards back. The second mile comes in at 12:14 which I'm surprised that I have lost about 16 seconds...it seems as though we have maintained pace since the start...but I am continuing to feel the fast pace in my breathing. The runner I have been pacing off of seems to be moving further away now and I try to maintain. Around the 2.5 mile point I seem to be gaining on the runner ahead of me and just before the three mile mark, I make the pass. The third mile comes in at 18:37...I'm not going to break 19 minutes but I will have a new PR. I increase my pace to make sure the runner that I just passed won't be passing me again and then sprint to the finish on the final straight away and cross the mats with the time of 19:17...a PR of 10 seconds. I'm making my slow march to breaking 19 minutes. The runner I passed around the three mile mark comes up to congratulate me at the finish and asks what age group I was in...come to find out he was in the 55-59 AG and still wins his AG. And of course the guy from Albuquerque crosses the finish about minute ahead...again. So I ended up second in my age group. He told me at the finish that he was trying to finish in the top three overall so I would get first in my age group, which I thought was really nice of him to think about me that way. But at the awards ceremony we find out that they are only awarding the 1st overall for male and female with no 2nd or 3rd...He did come in 3rd overall and I came in 9th. We talked running and racing after the race while awaiting the raffle drawings and awards ceremony and like most runners I have met and talked to he was really a nice person to talk to and I will be more than happy to race him when he comes back in the spring...maybe I can get closer in time by then.
There were 21 finishers in the Male 50 to 54 age group and 525 total finishers.
Overall finish place was 9 of 525
Age group finish place was 2 of 21
Time: 19:17 for an overall pace of 6:12 per mile
There's another 5K next weekend...I wonder if I should run that one too?