The potentially stormy, surely humid forecast turned gave way to relatively merciful race conditions. It was still hot and humid, but the sun dipped behind a cloud bank moments before the start and stayed there for most of the race. While a breeze might have been refreshing, there was no danger of a headwind on what was already a challenging course. I nestled into a group near the line that included fellow DARTers Dave Munger, Tommy Wagoner, Bryan Massingayle, Jordan Duvall, and newly introduced Peter Browne. My pre-race prediction was that Dave and Tommy would be duking it out the whole way, both finishing a minute or so ahead of me. Bryan, despite being a fast marathoner, was getting over a feverish crud, so I figured I could hold my own with him for 5 miles. I didn't know what to expect of Peter; my only clue about him was that he was a 3 hour marathoner, so I wasn't too worried about keeping pace with him.
|Runners at the gun. Photo courtesy of Chad Randolph.|
A left on Faust and another left on Catawba brought us to a long straightaway that led back towards Main Street. Dave passed me here and looked to be keeping a manageably quick pace. He stayed in reach, and Tommy stayed in sight, but Peter and I kept leap-frogging around each other. After a quick detour onto Potts, I hopped ahead of Peter and waved at my cheering wife. Chad Randolph was on the other side of the street to catch a photo of us around mile 1.5.
|Me at mile 1.5 with Pete hot on my heels. Photo courtesy of Chad Randolph.|
Back to reality. As the greenway leveled out and gave way to Avinger at mile marker 3 (I forget my split at this point), I was aware I had a lot of negative elevation I would have to gain back. This stretch of road was a real pace killer. Another runner in my age group passed me here and stayed in front of me for the remainder of the race. I pushed for an even effort and reminded myself that this gradual climb would be an easy spot to lose any semblance of a lead I might have gained on my competitors. I did not hear anyone directly behind me, so I set my eyes upon the next intersection. A left on Pine offered some reprieve: I went from uphill to slightly less uphill. I had done mile repeats for speed work on this particular stretch of road a few times, so it felt comfortable to gun the throttle a little bit. Fellow DARTer Marc Hirschfield stood by at my next turn onto Lorimer halfway through the 4th mile and snapped a picture of me as I thumbs-up'd by.
|Me at mile 3.5. I look better than I feel. Photo courtesy of Marc Hirschfield.|
At the end of Goodrum, my legs were trashed, but I had a few hundrend more yards of uphill running on South St. between me and the finish line. the volunteers had stopped traffic for me, only to let the driver continue on the road right behind me. Nothing goads your pace like a car chasing you! My wife was cheering me from the sidewalk as the finish line approached. When I saw the gun clock tick over to 31:50, I gunned it into a full-tilt sprint in an effort to break 32 minutes. My official time was 31:57, a 6:26 overall pace. I dropped my hands onto my knees to suck in some air before my wife rewarded me with some green beads in the spirit of the holiday. Peter finished after me, followed in short order by Dave, Tommy, and Bryan. All looked as out-of-breath as me. FAM already was doing some cool-down strides. He had fnished 4 minutes ahead of the second place runner with an unfathomable 23:56. Heidi and I grabbed some water and coffee inside Summit before partaking in the post-race festivities. I later found out that I finished 10th overall out of nearly 250 runners. Woohoo!
|Relaxing inside Summit Coffee after the race and sporting some St. Patty's Day beads.|
|My Green Inov-8 Bare-X 150s|
--Inov-8 Bare-X 150: a zero-drop, sub-6 ounce racing flat. Lots of ground feel, very quiet, and super fast. These will be my go-to road racers for anything short of 10K.
--Racing singlet by Reckless Running: lightweight and comfortable. I almost forgot I was wearing a singlet. The royal blue color really pops too.
Next on my race calendar:
5/6/12: Long Cane 50K, Abbeville, SC
9/7-8/12: Blue Ridge Relay (maybe), Boone/Asheville, NC
9/29-30/12: Hinson Lake 24 Hour Classic, Rockingham, NC
Fall Road marathon TBD