Saturday, June 8, 2013

Ontario Mills June 10K: I'm Like Joe Nemechek in Asics

Back: Barry, Bobby, Christian Okoye, me.  Front: Katherine, Rachel, Renee, and Theresa
I think I've said this before, but I'm starting to view running in competition the same way I view NASCAR.  The field starts with a certain number of racers, but only a relatively small percentage have any chance whatsoever of actually winning.  Some hope to make the top twenty, for example, others look to set personal records, and others still are just praying that they don't wreck or blow an engine and have to drag their sorry behinds to the garage (I'm looking at YOU, Joe Nemechek).  But over the course of a NASCAR season, only about a third of the drivers record victories.

In running events, the odds are even worse.  About 25,000 people enter the Boston Marathon every year, and of those, I'd guess less than 50 have a legitimate shot at crossing the line first.  Everyone else is just out there Nemecheking it.

All of this is a roundabout way of telling you that I don't have a chance in hell of ever winning a marathon, half-marathon, 10K, 5K, 2XL, three-legged mud run or 100-meter bunny hop.  So the results of the June 2013 running of the prestigious Ontario Mills - Christian Okoye Foundation 10K were somewhat of a surprise to me.

No, I didn't win.

I did, however, finish in the top twenty in a field of about 140.  Nineteenth, to be precise.  I will
definitely take that.

My goal for this race was first to beat my personal 10K record of 51:10.  Additionally, I was really hoping to come in under the fifty-minute mark.  In training, I haven't even gotten under 55, but as we've discussed, official events always inspire us to go faster than we do in training.  So yeah, I thought I had a decent shot.

As is often the case, we had a few of my family members and co-workers participating as well.  My wife Theresa, brother-in-law Barry, brother Bobby, and teachers Renee and Katherine were all running their first 10K's, and everyone had their own personal goals.

With my lofty goal in mind, I knew that I'd have to take off fast and maintain that pace for as long as possible.  That strategy would definitely spell doom in a marathon or even a half, but I knew that I could go strong for 6.2 miles without risking a catastrophe.  Would it be strong enough, was the question.  Right out of the gate, there was a concern because the 5K race started at the same time, and the 5K starting line was about 100 yards AHEAD of the 10K line.  So immediately, we were navigating our way around baby strollers, casual walkers, and a mom who stopped to tie her five-year old daughter's shoe in the middle of the course.  Even so, I managed to do the first mile in 7:13, a personal best.

The course was flat, the weather was perfect, so I kept close to that pace through the halfway point, where my 5K split was right around 24 minutes flat.  That's when I saw something I never thought I'd see in the middle of a race.  Right there, in the road, there was a fairly large pile of what my brother Bobby later dubbed "hobo poop."  Now, we obviously had no idea where the offending number two had originated, but I would hope that it wasn't from one of the runners in front of me.  Sure, we've all answered the call of nature in a convenient porta-potty or (yeah, I'll admit it) an unsuspecting hedge, but right there in the street?  What made it even worse is that there were plenty of more private options in the vicinity.  I have no clue what would inspire anyone to take such a public poop.  Shocked but un-slowed,, I dodged the doo-doo and continued on.

Nemechek gets pushed to the garage.  Again.
I knew I was making decent time, but when I checked my Garmin at the five mile mark, the time was right around 41:20.  I'll save you the math, that left me 8:40 to do the last 1.2 miles.  Not impossible, but I'd have to haul.  I came around the last turn, and with about 100 yards to go, I saw the official clock in the distance.  It read 49:45.  Fifteen seconds to run about 100 yards?  I'm no sprinter, but I turned on the booster jets (okay, Cessna engines) and brought it home.

Official time -- 50:09.  A little disappointing, but it was still a PR.  All in all, a successful morning.  As I said at the top, that time was good for 19th overall and sixth in my age group.  Bobby crossed the line a couple minutes later, clocking in at 52:43 (27th overall).  Theresa finished in 1:09:07 (her goal was 1:30, which she destroyed . . . I'm so proud of her), and the rest of our group either improved on previous times or came in faster than their goal.

It's great to have such awesome people to do these things with.

We collected our medals, and scarfed down breakfast at Denny's.

Now that the summer is here, I've got a long stretch until my next event, the Hangar Half Marathon in Apple Valley, Ca. in September.  I might not do too many long runs in the desert heat (it's about 105 today, for example), but I plan on logging 20-25 miles a week.  Come fall, though, it's back to the training schedule because we've got lots of races on the calendar.

Stay tuned!