It was the final Southern Arizona Roadrunners race before the summer break, so why not embrace the hundred-degree heat and have an evening race while the sun is still out? Two thousand and thirty four people besides myself evidently thought this was a fine idea. I arrived around five to help with registration, and it was a good thing because the table was swamped with people signing up at the event. We were only accepting cash and check, and constantly having to answer “I don’t know,” when people asked where the nearest ATM was. A free mile run was also being held, and several people signed up for that as well. I saw a few people from my office building at the race, which was a nice surprise.
We were partially shaded as we worked the tables, but definitely felt the heat. Standing and sweating for an hour and a half before a race probably isn’t the best thing to do, but sometimes you have to take one for the team. We got some relief volunteers with about twenty minutes to start, so I dropped my stuff off in the car and managed to get a warm-up mile in (“warm-up” sounds funny on a day like this). I really had to pee, but with the lines at the port-o-potties, I knew there was no way I’d make it in time.
Waiting in the crowd for the race to start was extra toasty. Something about being around all of those warm bodies? I could also feel the heat from the asphalt seeping through the bottoms of my shoes. This race was the first leg of the Gabe Zimmerman Triple Crown. Gabe was a local runner who had been killed in the January 8th shooting targeting Gabby Giffords. Gabe’s father thanked the crowd for for coming out and encouraged everyone to have a great race. It was a poignant reminder to appreciate every day that we’re able to do the things we love and see the people we love.
The course was flat and would probably be very fast if this race was held at a cooler time of year. Still, last year I was only two seconds off my PR at this race (21:27), so I was hopeful that I could do well again. My new PR, which I had just set three weeks ago, was 20:43. I took off at what felt like a good pace, and navigated the congestion. Some of the downtown residents sprayed us down with hoses, which provided welcome (if brief) relief. The song “Running On Empty” rattled around my head, but I pushed it out in favor of “Running Down A Dream.” It was only the first mile, for crying out loud! This eventually gave way to “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Hot? Yes! Sticky? Yes! Sweet? Eh, maybe.
After the first mile, I started passing several wilting people. The split was 6:47, which was not quite my 6:40 PR pace. I resigned myself to the fact that a new best would probably not be forthcoming today. I passed Ragnar teammate Steve O., and I hit the next mile at 6:54. Bah! I did some back-and-forth with a girl wearing aquamarine. While the course was relatively flat, there was a definite incline toward the end and I felt every inch. I heard someone cheer for me, but I wasn’t sure who. At least I didn’t feel the urge to pee anymore.
I mustered up a kick at the end, but it wasn’t much. I had been involved in a hard-fought rundown at the end of the aquathlon a few days before, and had managed to scrape out the lead. It was one of those rare, fun, amazing, yet agonizing times where I wasn’t sure how I was able to run with the force that I had. I think my brain was feeling a little rebellious and not wanting to go there again so soon. So, in the final straightaway, I was passed by aquamarine, Steve O., and a few other guys. Crud! I was a little disappointed in myself, but my heart rate was also a little on the high side for the end of a 5K, so maybe I had given most of what I could for that day. My chip time was 21:15, which was good enough for second in my age group after the overall winners were taken out of the age group ranks.
Race data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/321775031