These were my last tune-up races before my ultra marathon in Germany. I had to leave for a business trip to Europe for two and a half weeks immediately following the race. I decided to run the 10K race at a leisurely pace because I was still struggling with a groin and lower ab muscle strain I sustained during a recent soccer match. As luck would have it, my usual running buddies had not really been able to train much lately, so we all had the same goal of running a relaxed race. And this plan worked right until the moment the race actually started. Mike's goal was to run somewhere around a 48 minute race, which suited me well, so I decided to try to stay just behind him. It was difficult to tell what James would be shooting for. He had actually been training at some really quick pace during his family visit to Japan, so I figured he'd be leaving us behind right at the monster hill about half way into the race. As soon as the gun went off, I focused on staying with Mike, not realizing until about a mile into the race, that he was going at a pace significantly faster than the sub 8 minute pace we had discussed just before the race. We were actually running closer to 7 minute pace. Well, well, I figured I'd hold on as long as I could and then ease into a slow jog until the finish. As things happened, I never did have to slow down much and I was even able to keep my heart rate down below 180 until about the last mile of the race. I did push my heart rate briefly above 180 when I climbed the infamous hill without slowing to a walk. How can you walk when you are listening to the theme from Rocky over loudspeakers. Every year, local residents are looping the theme of Rocky at the hill, providing much needed motivation to all runners. So much for running a relaxed race. I was even able to make up some of the time lost on the hill on the downhill run on Bankhead Parkway. However, I didn't have as much spring in my step as I thougt I did. But I did end up staying right behind Mike and tapped him on the shoulder about 200 yards before the finish line. We finished in 44 minutes and 35 seconds with Mike placing 154th and myself finishing 155th out of a total of almost 2000 runners. Not too bad for a training run/race.
I followed up this race with the 5K race as a cool-down race together with my son just like I did last year. He had asked me to run this race with him to help him pace for a new PR. Is current PR was around 24 minutes so I wanted to shoot for a sub 8 minute pace. However, he was struggling very early with stomach cramps and was never able to overcome them. However, his pure determination and will allowed him to still finish the race in under 30 minutes. The combination of really humid conditions and his stomach problems caused him to throw up all of the water he had taken in during the run right after crossing the finish line. I felt really really bad for trying to push him in the race, even if it was to help him to his PR. However, he recovered quickly with another couple of cups of warter and Gatorade followed with pizza and icecream. This race allowed me to spend some extra time with him and witness him push himself way beyond his comfort zone. I couldn't be more proud of his determination and will to never quit.