|My second Masters win, this time at the Stamp Out Poverty 5K.|
So I chose the Stamp Out Poverty 5K today in Grant Park. It looked to be a small race, but one that was USATF-certified although it really wouldn't matter what my time was in it.
It also was nice to pick a race for the final day of my 10th year of my daily running streak.
I drove up 40 minutes before the 10 a.m. start. The race didn't start on time, however, because it turned out one of the gates in the park along the race course was still locked and no one had the key.
So the race director made a quick change to the course, promising he would have it re-certified by Monday.
When the race started we all took off, following the director's black SUV through the park's roads. I was about 6th from the head of the pack and it was apparent that my 6:50/mile pace was too much. We took the first uphill turn after a quarter-mile and I felt shaky, not a good sign.
The course took us to the large three-tiered parking lot in the park. We were to run up the highest tier closest to Boulevard and then turn where the parking lot is bisected by an accessway then curve down to the second tier, then curve down to the lowest tier, where we would run the length of the lot along the bottom and then back up to the middle tier and then back toward the park.
What this meant was the lead pack knew what was expected but everyone else didn't. When we were running along the bottom, people in the middle of the pack were pouring down from the top tier to the bottom and then turning back into the park.
And then when we were running along the middle tier, we had to cross the main flow of traffic that now was pouring down to the bottom tier. It was interesting, to say the least, to time the speed of your run, running at full bore, to miss people running slower than you but crossing your path.
The first two runners were now out of sight when I entered the park. I was about 30 seconds behind two other guys and I felt like maybe we wouldn't end up running the full 3.1 miles but at least if I tried to keep up with them I would place somehow.
When we entered the park from the parking lot, I was shocked to learn that there were plenty of runners ahead of us who were running in the same direction. I think these runners were the ones who ran to the bottom tier of the parking lot and then back into the park instead of running along the bottom perimeter of the lot and back.
It worried me a little bit, since now I thought I would have to race these runners, who started out behind me, to place at all in the race.
I worked my way to pass people and then we ran up to the locked gate and turned around, going back up the hill from the first turn of the race, making our way back near the parking lot, running around a large tree right before the asphalt started and then making our way back down to the finish.
On the way back down, I could hear loud clip-clopping. I was hoping this was the female in her 20s who was just behind me as I approached the turnaround tree. But it was a pretty tall European guy. He passed me and proceeded back down the hill.
But when we reached the bottom, he turned right -- back towards the locked gate, instead of the finish. Everyone was yelling at him to go the other way. After a second, he finally did turn around.
At this point, I started running as fast as I could to try to reach the finish before he could. But even with what my watch said was a 6:16/mile kick, he caught up with me and finished about four seconds ahead of me. (It turned out he placed first in his age group but under 30 years old).
I made sure I finished strong to keep anyone else from finishing ahead of me. I waited around for the awards and it turned out I was the first Masters male, even despite my finish time of 23:34, which means I have a bunch of work to do this season.
I started with a 7:14 first mile, then slowed to 7:41 for my second and third miles. The course was a little hilly but I know I'm capable of running faster.
Still, it was a nice way to end 10 years of running every day. I ran 1,818.61 miles this year and have run 14,157.12 miles for the streak!
Time: 10:14 a.m.
Temp: 41 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, long (Atlanta 10-Miler 2013), Technical T-shirt, short (Rock'n'Roll Chicago Half Marathon 2010), shorts, Brooks Pure Connect 4.