The winner as usual was Josh Whitehead, followed by Hirbo Hirbo and my friend Eric Charette. I ran a 19:47 for 2nd of 11 in the 35-39 age group and 17th of 253 overall. Carl took 1st place in the 45-49 age group. The masters winner, Bill Fanning, hammered out an impressive 17:15.
The weather was great today. I've been excited about this race since Thursday when I knew I would run it. I slept great both Thursday and Friday night. Today was a no excuses day. I wanted to break 19 or at least PR. I didn't really come close to either. I'm just not in my best 5k shape right now. I'd like to break 19 before I get too serious about Rocket City. It's possible, but I have to learn to hurt a little more.
We arrived with plenty of time to register and get a thorough warmup in. We spoke to Eric Charette before registering. When I saw him, I knew he had an overall award in mind. Carl and I did a 2 mile warmup, running the first mile and back. The last mile of the race covers much of the first mile, so we got to see just under 2/3 of the course during our warmup. That was definitely helpful. I got a chance to chat with Barry and Bud from Elkmont while waiting for the start.
This is a very interesting course. I do believe I can run it faster than I did today. I like it and I will try to run this again next year. It starts with a gradual climb, a slight loss of the climb and then a significant uphill.
I was standing next to Josh at the starting line. I was absolutely amazed by how fast he started. He had a huge lead and he was out of sight when I made the first turn. I don't know his first mile split, but it had to be well under 5:00. He is definitely a start fast and hold on 5k runner.
I struggled to get through the crowd in the first mile. Some guy in headphones would not let me pass. RUDE! It's a 5k, people. Do without headphones for a little while. Ugh. I had to tap him to get by. PEOPLE!
Carl passed me heading up the hill on Tennessee Street to Court Street. I passed several folks going up that hill. After the turn onto Court St. to head toward UNA I passed a couple more. I don't remember getting passed again until the last few feet. I hit that mile in 6:15. Not bad, but I knew that sub 19 was gone.
There's not much to tell here. This mile was more uphill than I expected. I was just trying to keep Carl in my sight. I began to realize that he would have to come back to me. His lead was pretty solid. Also, the course doubles back after a loop and it was awkward coming back into some folks going out. This would be my only complaint with the course. It seemed like we were crossing traffic. This mile took a disappointing 6:24 to cover.
I still had Carl in my sight for the 3rd mile. I also had young Tanner Ryan in my sight. I wanted to pass him, but I just didn't have the guts. I closed on him and got almost even going down the big hill that we climbed in the first mile. On the ascent, he opened his lead just a little more. We both passed another man here, but I did not know him. After crossing the 3 mile split, I tried to kick it in. I really didn't kick it in soon enough here. Tanner turned it on, too, and his fast is faster than my fast. I should have found the guts to make a strong move with a half or a quarter mile to go. Who knows if I would have held it? I probably wouldn't have because of his youth.
I covered the 3rd mile in 6:15.
Stacey LeMay came on with a strong all out sprint at the end to finish about a step and a half ahead of me. We had the same finishing time, so it was close. I didn't know he was coming! I was totally surprised by that.
All in all, this is a good event. The band, Crossroads, was VERY good. I really enjoyed the blues music pre and post race. This is my second Shoals TRAC race, and those guys know what they're doing. I enjoyed meeting several shoals runners and hanging out with Carl and Eric after the race.
No sub 19 and no PR today. Oh well, maybe another day. I felt like I could hold the pace for another couple of miles, but I didn't feel like I could go faster. I recovered from the race and was ready to run again very quickly, and I felt great for the rest of the day. Maybe I'm just not conditioned for 5k's? Or maybe I'm just not as fast as I think I am.