Then, I woke up at 6:00 AM or so, and a potential solution to a technical problem I've been struggling with for 3 days just popped inexplicably into my head. So, I grabbed my phone and typed up an email before I got out of bed. Then, I was feeling sick. Sore throat. Coughing up phlegm. Yuck. I thought about just not going at all. As usual, when I talk myself into running, I'm glad I did!
I rushed over to UAHuntsville to sign up for the race. I remembered how much fun this was when I did it back in 2009. I have no idea why I haven't run it for the past two years. I have this little boy inside of me who thinks silly things are funny (even bathroom humor) and who really likes mud. I love this race! After getting signed up, I jogged around a bit and saw lots of friends, some I haven't seen for a while. I knew this was going to be a good day, no matter how I ran.
At the start line of the 5k, I was hanging with Jim Clemens and Marty Clarke. I figured both of those guys would finish ahead of me in the masters, and I was right. We had several laughs, and I wasn't quite ready to run yet. In fact, my overall pace for the 8k was faster than for the 5k. Go figure.
|Now that's a game face!|
I only rested for about 15 minutes after the 5k. After that, I jogged around just to keep my legs loose. I did very easy jogging. Jim left after the 5k. So, that left Marty and me to battle again. I decided that I wasn't going to give up quite as easily. I still wasn't feeling great, but I was going to have fun, no matter what happened.
At the start, Marty and I ran together for most of the first loop. The young fast guys took off and I was content to let them. The first creek crossing was much shallower than I expected. I didn't even get my feet wet on this one! I made a slight move just before this crossing to lead a small pack that formed behind the fast younguns. This time, on the creek crossings, I knew what I was doing. I had my line picked out and didn't fall even once. During the last crossing on the first lap, I heard a splash right behind me. It was Rob Youngren. He passed me after exiting the water. I tried to keep him in sight, but I know that if Rob wants to beat me, Rob can beat me.
I still was watching Marty from behind. My lead seemed to be growing. Rob was also putting some distance on me. During the third lap, I had what I thought was an insurmountable lead on Marty. I passed by him as he was climbing the hill to enter the trail and I was turning toward the start/finish to begin my last lap. He said, "I'm about to start my kick, Eric!" Wiley veteran. I believed him! I ran as hard as I could early in the last lap! If he was going to kick, I was going to kick, too. When I started the last creek crossing and I noticed that Mary hadn't even entered the creek for the second crossing yet. He suckered me!
I finished 33:41, 4th overall, and first master. Yep. This was my first ever masters win. Marty told me, "That's one in a row. That's how most streaks start!"
After the race, Rob told me that he stayed behind me in the first loop to learn where to cross the creeks because he hadn't run the 5k. I got used by two veterans today! I'm going to be learning about this sport for a long time.
Overall a great, fun day.