Well, not exactly. Back in 2002, the very first road race I ever did was the Ridley 5k in Riverhead. I had been running for about a month prior to that race. I decided to enter it as a way to motivate me to run. The wingman could not run with me that day, so he came down to cheer me on. I was nervous about coming in last so I scanned the crowd for someone I thought I could beat. Then, my eyes found my target. There was a big (fat) high school kid with a football sweatshirt on. I had to beat him. If not, I was going to end my running career right there. So wingman told me "You can beat Tony over there." The real Tony is a former football player for the Baltimore Ravens. Well, no one has to guess that I beat the kid, my Tony.
Fast forward to 2008, and I still look for my Tony at the races. Today was my 7th running of the Ridley race. I've only run once in the last two weeks, so I set a very conservative goal for the race. I had a time goal in mind and did not figure to beat it.
Wingman and I get to the race site and we will be meeting his cousin and his cousin's friend there. Little did this friend know, but as soon as I saw him, he was to become my Tony. We got the pleasantries out of the way and made our way to the starting line. Today was so cold in the morning. I worried that it was so cold I would be under dressed. I wore a black long sleeve running shirt and my running shorts. I agonized over wearing tights. Turns out I was dressed properly. No matter what the temps are, once you get running, it will feel ~20 degrees warmer.
The gun went off and Tony took off down the road. I lost sight of him quickly. I just figured I'd better settle down and find my rhythm. I made my way down main street in the crowd. I passed people and people passed me. By the time I got to the 1st mile marker, I was quite warm and thankful I wore my shorts and did not change. Still I did not see Tony yet. I knew we were coming to our first turnaround on the course and that I would get a good idea of how far behind I was. First person I saw was Wingman's cousin. Then as I made my way down to the cul de sac area, I saw my Tony. He looked like he was lumbering along. I could smell the blood in the water. I knew I could catch him. I paced myself well and knew that by Riverside Drive, I would get him.
So I now look back to see where Wingman was. I could see he wasn't too far behind me and was looking good so far. I looked ahead and focused my efforts. Reel in the big one.
At this point I feel like I am running on automatic pilot. My legs are working independent of my brain. I can't explain how this happens, but it's a nice disconnect. I am quickly coming up on my Tony. There is some strategy to be worked out. As I pass him, what do I do if he keeps up with me? Or, what if he sticks right behind me? I need to save a little something for the finish. I am not quite capable of dropping someone mid race. So as I pass, I know there is one last turnaround coming so I can see his response. Well I luck out. I pass him and make my way down the road to the turn around. He had no response. Mentally I relax a little. I see my Wingman one more time and give him the high-sign.
I make it to the 1/2 mile to go sign and some guy in a full cotton sweatsuit passes me. I think "oh no you didn't." I stayed behind him a little as I planned my move. When I got about 1/4 mile form the finish I put out a small burst of speed and passed/dropped him. As I made my way to the final turn I could see a woman pass from my left and I thought again "oh NO she did NOT just pass me." Needless to say at this point I broke out into a full sprint and blew right by her and beat her by 3 seconds.
Overall, I did very well surprisingly. I finished 1:30 faster than I thought I would. I was stunned. I felt comfortable the whole race and had a great finish.