Sunday, April 7, 2013

Double Helix Dash 5k

Several guys from ADTRAN put together a couple of teams to run in the Double Helix Dash 5k at Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology. It is really awesome to work with a great group of runners.

Look at us here.
Photo thanks to Gregg Gelmis
There were others from ADTRAN who ran, but these were our teams. I run with most everyone in that picture on a fairly regular basis. It's really a blessing to work with folks like that. Pretty much any day I can say, "I'm going out for a few miles at lunch today. Anybody want to join?" I'll most likely get a yes from someone in that picture.

Ok... now for the race...

I describe this race as a bad course but a fun race. The course is horrible. Slow. Two out and backs on a 5k and then the last half or three quarters of a mile is on a zig-zag sidewalk that is shaped like a DNA model and goes up and down a slight incline. Miserable course. But the race... There's always a good turnout. It's a Tuesday twilight race. There are just so many people from research park there that it's just plain fun.

Change clothes at work, run over to the race start, socialize for a few minutes, race, socialize for a lot longer, run back to work and drive home. That's pretty cool.

Our teams were divided about as evenly as we could given that Andy, Eric Fritz, and I didn't really know what kind of 5k shape we were in. I had run a couple of tempo runs and they were very miserable. 6:40 pace for 3 miles felt a lot like a race. So, I figured I was in 21 minute shape, maybe a little better. I expected a 3-way battle between Fritz, Jake, and me. But I really didn't know because this was my first 5k since October and my first race since starting back running from the stress fracture (not counting Black Warrior 25k, which was more of an episode of poor judgment than a race!)

When the race started, I hung on to my Athens runner friend Chris Ramsden for as long as I could. I just tried to keep him in sight for as long as possible. I knew he was in better shape than me, but still, hang on and see. Eric and Jake were close by in the first mile. I saw Chris hit the first mile at about 6:18 or so. I hit it at 6:27, and I was thinking, "I feel pretty stinking good! I can hold this pace, maybe even speed up!" So I did. I tried to close the gap on Chris, but he was still running pretty strong.

I headed on down the hill to Mile 2. I was definitely picking up the pace. I hit this one in 6:19. It was downhill, but still, I was starting not to like the pace but still felt pretty good. Chris maintained his lead on me. As I turned around at the last out and back, I noticed that Jake and Eric were far enough back that I would really have to come back to them. They would not catch me without me giving up a lot of pace, and I still felt like I had a strong last mile left.

The third mile was uphill and into a strong breeze before turning on the miserable zig-zag. I passed Jason Mitchell going up the hill, but I heard him stay on my shoulder. Oh well. I'll do what I can. I'm not going to burn up too much energy here because I know what waits on the dreaded helix. He hung on, and Chris seemed to notice that I was close on the turn and put some more separation between us. About 300 meters or so into the helix, Jason made a move to pass. I had nothing more to give to cover his move. It's my first race back, and I'm tickled that I have a chance to break 20! I let him go. When we hit the 3 mile marker and I pressed my lap button, I couldn't believe that was my fastest mile yet at 6:17. Nice. Even with 0.1 to go, I had no chance to catch Jason and nobody was threatening from behind, and sub-20 was in the bag. Still, though, I ran hard through the finish to clock a 19:41.
On the Helix. Thanks again to Gregg Gelmis!

I was very pleased with that! First time back. Fun, and better than I expected.

Our ADTRAN team of Andy Durr, me, Eric Fritz, and Jennifer Bicknell won the team competition with Andy crushing the course, coming in second overall with a 17:49. I am super proud of that dude. He has put in the work and it is paying off. I love to see that! Also, my friend Wendy Hneytenka on the other ADTRAN team smoked out a PR. She keeps improving, too. I love to see runners enjoying it and improving their fitness and confidence.

My 19:41 was good enough for sixth overall and first in the 40-49 age group.