|Trying a sample of Red Hare's Long Day Lager after the short race!|
Racewise, I wasn't sure what to expect. My last 5K was two weeks ago on a hilly course that I ran in 22:31. And that race had left me with a minor case of plantar fasciitis that luckily had managed to go away before race day.
And then there was the rain. Although I brought rain gear and a change of clothes with me I didn't think it would be raining on the morning before the race. But it was on the drive up and when I went to get my race bib.
Luckily right before the race started it seemed like the rain had gone away except for a minor mist so I ditched my windbreaker prior to the start.
The night before I had four different pairs of running shoes out, not knowing which ones I should wear in case of rain. Since my foot felt better I decided to wear my Saucony Type A6 racing flats and it turned out to be a good move since the outersole is made of rubber, which gave me excellent traction on the wet course.
When the race started I felt crazy running fast up the first hill but it felt ok. I wasn't sure if later on I would be caught by faster runners like in my previous race but I continued on anyway.
The race format involves two "hares" -- one male and one female -- in the race. The female one totally dressed the part (I overheard her say after the race that she lost her tail somewhere in the middle of the run), while the male just wore rabbit ears or a mask. If you finished before your gender's hare, you would be invited to take part in a special cask sampling after the race. I passed the male hare early before Mile 1 (but didn't stick around to crack the cask).
After running on Delk Road past Mile 1 (6:51 for me) of the race, the road goes up a short on ramp to Cobb Parkway. Here we ran for a half mile and it seemed like forever until we turned and I was sure I would get passed by someone.
As promised by the race director in his announcements, the first half of the race was indeed uphill. I just worked the best I could, although it did feel like these hills were less strenuous than the ones in my neighborhood during the previous race.
You eventually turn through an apartment complex and then just after Mile 2 (7:12) it turns onto Franklin Road, which is basically downhill the rest of the way.
Since I hadn't really burned myself out yet, I was confident that I still had a fast mile in me. Another guy passed me halfway down the hill to the end and I trailed him, keeping him in my sights and keeping my pace up.
Near the final turn back to the brewery, I passed another guy who told me jokingly that my shoes were untied. I ended up gaining ground past him but was worried that eventually he might catch up at the end.
So I kicked a lot earlier than I usually do and crossed the finish line in 22:01 (Mile 3 was 6:46). If I hadn't been following the guy who passed me, my race time easily could have been identical to the 22:31 that I ran two weeks prior.
The after-race party was great. Runners received a special Red Hare pint glass for the race and a pour (or more?) from the taps there. They also had pulled pork sandwiches, hot dogs, and 'jangles sausage biscuits.
I changed my clothes and waited in the rain for the awards. It turned out I was 16th overall and first in my age group. I think I missed being the Masters winner by about 30 seconds and two runners.
It was a great race and one I'll look out for next year, although I'll keep in mind the hills!
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 64 degrees, rain mist
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Big Peach Sizzler '09), shorts, Saucony Type A6.