This was my first race as a member of the Nike Fleet Feet Racing team in Huntsville. It was my first race in Nike shoes, and I really liked the ride. I ran today in the LunarElite, which is the lightest shoe I've worn to date. I'm working toward running 5ks and 10ks in the LunaRacer, but I figured it wasn't a good idea to jump to such a light weight shoe with minimal support just yet. I'll graduate to those.
The winner was Brandon Mader of Huntsville in 16:12. The female winner was Brooke Pruitt of Huntsville in 20:04. The masters division was 70 and over (maybe by typo, but it was 70), and I don't know if there was a runner in that division or not. I ran a 18:50 which was good enough for a 2 second PR, 4th overall (of 418) and 1st (of 40) in the 31-40 age group (again, maybe a typo, but it was 31-40). That was also good enough for 6 months of free Chick Fil A!
I love just leaving the door of my house and doing my warm-up run on the way to the race! The run to the start was about 1.6 miles, which wasn't quite enough. When I got there, there were tons of people! I hung out and chatted with all the Athens folk. Athens needs more races! I am directing the Duck and Run 5k on September 18, so come join us then! I ran into Fleet Feet Racing team mate Madelyn Patton and we did a mile of additional warm up. She was in rare form, and she smoked the 5k in 21 and change.
The start was a little unusual. There were a couple of Chick Fil A cows standing at the start line with a banner, and they were kinda in the way. The audible sound of the start was a ringing cow bell. I think the start surprised several people. The PA wasn't really directed at the starting line. But off we went!
There were the usual kids and beginners in a race this size who jumped out to a sprint start. They were off the pace soon enough and there were just 8 people in front of me. Two were Brandon Mader and Donald Bowman. The others I caught and passed before the first turn on Bullington. Then, Justin Pruitt passed me just before the turn and I settled into 4th place, where I would remain for rest of the race. I had no idea what was going on behind me. I never looked back.
I ran on Justin's shoulder for most of the race. We hit the 1 mile split in 5:46, my fastest mile ever. Apparently, that's just a tad too fast because I wasn't able to hold that. After the turn on West Hobbs Street, there is a very slight incline. I was sure to stay close to Justin on this incline. I even made a surge to attempt to pass him, but he covered it, so I stayed behind and waited for another opportunity.
Just before the quick turns on Hine and Market streets, there is a downhill. Justin did not know the course and I didn't see any sentries here, so I helped him out a bit by giving verbal directions. "Left! Then quick right! Yeah, that's it!" I stayed with him along Market Street and we hit the 2nd mile in 11:50. That was too slow for that second mile. Just past mile 2, I made another surge to pass and pulled even, but he covered it and pulled ahead. While even with him, I got a good look at him and knew he wasn't in my age group! He was way too young to be competing with me for the free chicken!
As we reached the courthouse square, he made a surge and pulled ahead by about 5 seconds. I did not cover and I don't know why. I guess I still race like a girl. I was planning to surge on the downhill on Washington Street between Jefferson and Houston. I did, but so did he and I lost more ground on him. As we started up the hill, I was pushing, and I could tell I was losing my ability to maintain this pace. I should have pushed harder earlier. I should have covered all of Justin's surges. This isn't a difficult hill, and I run it multiple times per week. However, it sure seemed harder today!
As we turned into the parking lot, I had no idea where the finish was. I never saw the clock! But I was in the finishing chute, so I assumed I was finished. After the race, I met Justin and Brandon and confirmed that they were younger than me. :)
Obviously missing from the lead pack was Josh Whitehead. He ran along with his wife today and that explains why he didn't win. Another thing, today is the first time I ever remember seeing Donald Bowman after the first few hundred yards of a race! To be sure, I didn't compete with Donald's 17:11, but I did keep him in sight until the end. Part of that is the layout of this course, but still, I saw him!
WOW!! Starbucks, Chick fil A sandwiches, water, gatorade, bananas, oranges, pastries, etc. The awards presentation was done by none other than Mayor Dan Williams. There were several Fleet Feet team mates getting some free chicken! Madelyn won her age group. Donald Bowman won his age group. The two of them would have taken masters honors if the masters division had been the normal 40 and over.
I did a reverse run of the course with Barry Pugh and Jordan Paul to cool down. It was cool seeing the mass of people in the streets of my hometown and to have the opportunity to encourage them and hear their congratulations.
It was a great day to be in Athens. I really hope we can leverage this success to grow the attendance at the Duck and Run 5k in September. Visit http://www.northalabamarunner.blogspot.com/ for more information about the Duck and Run 5k.
Congrats to My Friends
I'd like to take some space to give a shout out to some of my friends.
Lance Perry ran his best race yet today breaking 22 minutes. He'll be below 20 minutes with continued training. Tim McNeill turned in a solid race today after recovering from injury. David Quinn is coming on strong. Will Ogles is just now getting back into running and ran well today. It was good to see Mark Swanner coming back from injury and breaking the 8:00 mile solidly. Troy Coneally ran today in his comeback from injury. I could go on and on. I didn't mean to slight you if I didn't mention you by name.
And Jeff Mooneyham ran his best race to date. This was a tune up for him for the CMM half in two weeks. He's ready. This guy is usually already halfway through with his runs when I see him on the track at Athens High before 6:00 AM. I've seen him running 10+ miles alone in the rain early in the morning. He got up early enough to get his run in before attending a sunrise service on Easter Sunday. He's a poster child for no excuses, just miles.