Sunday, March 13, 2011

John Robbins

I didn't race this. At all. Nor did I intend to. My race is next weekend. In fact, I don't know when I've raced this race. I've certainly run faster than today though. Greg told me to take it out slow. Stay behind the group that leads. Don't push until the last 2 miles. So that was the plan.

Then I saw EP! I didn't know he was going to be there! I wanted to bury him! Granted, that's because I thought he'd try to run fast. I ran over to Greg and asked him if I could put him under the ground, but he told me not to. "Toy with him." Then I almost forgot my chip! I heard Ruth yelling at Terry to wait because she'd forgotten hers, and mine was back in the car! Stupid EP came up to talk to me as I was changing shoes and I forgot it. Probably not his fault but I'll blame him as I recall the story. "No Chip, No Time," after all, so I went back to get it. I made it back with plenty of time though.

Splits already Nick?
I told Scott on the starting line not to be alarmed when I went out behind him. Behind Scott, that is. And that's what I did. I went out behind everyone. It felt good. Nice and slow. I wasn't uncomfortable being in a crowd like I sometimes in at big races. Maybe it's because I wasn't running fast. I'd thought about wearing my heart rate monitor so that I could see what was going on under the hood, but decided against it.

But we didn't even make it down Fall Hill Avenue before someone got antsy with the pace. I didn't know who he was either, so I swung wide around the group and went to his heels. I probably cursed a little too loudly, because I'd been enjoying my moment or two with the group in the pack. I'd covered the ground before the turn. I heard Scott making some loser comments about how I'd go out slow unless someone challenged me. I guess Scott's forgotten what victory tastes like... it's not a flavor I'm willing to give up so easily. This guy wanted to fight from the start though, so that was entertaining.

At the first turn, onto Bunker Hill, he tried to motor away going around the corner. I did not respond, but instead gained on him naturally within 50 meters because his surge didn't last long. I ran by a house that was for sale and looked at it. I didn't like it very much. Great location, not a great house. We went down Washington Avenue and I was a shadow. I kept my mind on my breathing so that I wouldn't let him know that I was there, if possible. I'm sure he knew though. My feet were pretty quiet though, in my mind.

Coming up to the intersection of Maury, I was on him like glue. It felt easy and we were settling in. I had no idea what the pace would be, but it felt slow. We got to the first hill though, and he tried to drop me again. I watched as his arms started swinging a lot faster for about 5 or 6 seconds. But that was it. Again, I didn't respond but caught him anyway before the top of the hill. The first mile was 5:42. Solid. Faster than I expected actually. Rounding the turn, I watched as Justin went through the first mile in 6:02, but ahead of Nick. The end was near for him. Between us were Joey and Scott. Terry was back there too. Pat and Bob were a little farther back. But the gap was significant between us and the chase group. They were a lot more strung out than I expected them to be at that point though.

Down to Kenmore, the Chancellor kids were working the water stop. I recognized KC's fan club. I think the guy in front tried to slow down at one point so that I could pass him. I took the turn really wide getting onto Mary Ball and actually pulled up even with him for a second. I quickly dropped back. No need to lead yet. Too early. When we got onto Little Page, I felt like it was going to take us forever to get to the 2-mile marker. I even turned around. All I could see was red jerseys-- Scott, Joey and Terry. I thought they were going to catch us if we kept going this pace! I was again shocked to see the split was 5:46. Again, I expected something over 6-minute pace. Going by the Hyland's house I tried to signal to Debi, who was lead bike, a question about the guy in front. He'd been checking his GPS, but I couldn't tell if he was breathing hard or not. I wanted to tell him not to check it, or ask him what the pace was, or just say hello. I was bored. But I remained a ghost. Debi was unable to either understand my pantomime or figure out the answer to the question. Getting onto Sunken I accidentally stepped on his shoe and finally made my presence known with an apology. I think he said something back, politely.

There was a busted up car right at mile 3. Greg had told us about it before the race, but that car was way more jacked up than I was expecting. It looked like it'd been in a head-on collision! How it got where it was if it hadn't been hit there is beyond me. And that's where I struck. I took my third mile split of 5:54 and just blew his doors off right there. It was at about the crest of the "hill" on Sunken and all downhill until Kenmore. So I went hard right away. I settled in going down the hill but never looked back as I got to Kenmore. Instead I just waited until the stream of people coming and turned my mind off. Admittedly, the stream was thinner than usual, but I was pretty far behind schedule for a usual race. I just kept telling myself to get in the 4:40s for that mile. The last mile wasn't a full mile so I didn't want to push it there, and didn't know if this guy would try to respond. So I had to do it earlier.

Running back by the water stop I actually heard the Chancellor kids say "Whoa." as I ran by. I took that as a good sign that I was going pretty fast. Then I got to the uphill back onto Washington. Ouch. Now I remembered that I did a long run the day before. My left hamstring remembered it too. Thank goodness there aren't going to be any hills on the track next week, because that sucked! I relaxed a little bit as I got towards the crest and then tried to get back into attack mode. There was a photographer there at the top of the hill. I'm not sure why, but he was there. I think the lead bike (no longer Debi) may have gotten in the way. He was caught off guard by my sudden change in pace, I believe. So I drove all the way to that mile line and hit it in 5:00. Not quite 4:40s, but there was a hill and a long run in my way. I figure I may have to close sub-5 next week on the track, so it was good to try to run one off of a relatively easy pace. Nice confidence. I didn't shut down just yet though. I wanted to know where he was. So I went around the turn and saw him pretty far back. We passed each other 35 seconds into my last mile, and he wasn't quite at 4 yet, so I knew I had a good cushion. I eased up a lot, but still kept it faster than marathon pace. Maybe right where it should have been the whole time for an 8K. I cruised in the last mile alone, kicking a little at the end and running all the way through the line, in 5:18. I didn't even see the clock. It didn't matter. I found out at the awards ceremony that it was a 27:41. Only a few seconds faster than last year. Funny. A little bit off the course record that Tim set last year. Alas...

But I did what I was supposed to do. I got through it, earned the 1000 points and $50 gift certificate from VA Runner. The splits were good. 5:41, 5:45, 5:54, 5:00, 5:18. And by good, I mean funny. Afterwards I went to talk to the guy that got second, but I didn't want to be a jerk so I kept it brief. Scott ended up rolling up Joey, and so did Terry. I wonder if Scott went with 1st Masters, because I think Michelle Dolby won that award and had the same amount of prize that I did. Yes, now that I see the results, I see that he did go with Masters, and so did Terry. Good choices both of them. Also I see in the results that the guy who got second also got second at Sweethearts. I wonder if he's going to be around for a while. Who is this Craig Clark from Hamden, Connecticut? Only time will tell.


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