It was pretty cold at the start. I had to put on some gloves to race in just to keep my fingers warm. I had two shirts as well. I took a spot somewhere near the front as I didn't want to lose much time from the start. Once the gun went off, I was flying down the road. I was able to get a clean start and was off and running without wasting energy weaving in and out of people. The course was a little different from last week's 10k course. This one had about 512 turns in it. Well, maybe not 512, but it sure felt like it. There was never a long straightaway so I was OK with all the turns. The race director does a great job on the course. At every turn, there is a volunteer holding a sign with an arrow that says "Turn Right" or "Turn Left". Each intersection was well protected. Even the people that live in the neighborhood were out and cheering the racers on.
As I turned off Merrick Road, I found my rhythm and settled into my race. I had no goal pace since it was such a short race. I just went out hard and focused on hanging on. As I made my way towards the park I noticed a guy running on my right. He was running my speed and coming closer. It was rather odd. I am not sure why he was running towards my line since I was on the left side of the road and there was a right turn coming. I made sure I held my line since I was there first and just put my elbow out a little as I ran to let him know I wasn't going to budge. I think he got the sign, but he stayed with me the next ~2 miles.
I was so focused how I was feeling that I completely missed the 1 mile marker. I wanted to record my splits on the watch. Oh well, I will get it at mile 2 and the rest of the markers. With my 'shadow' running with me, I continued onward. When I got to the 2nd mile marker, I was shocked at my time. I came through about a minute faster than I thought I would. Zoinks! Now the pressure was on. The PR was up ahead and I was lining it up in my sights. Would I be able to take the shot and bring it down? I had to hold on for another 2 miles to find out.
It was at this point that I realized something. In the past, I always looked for my Tony. I always tried to find that person that I wanted to beat so I could be motivated. But this time something was different. For the last few races I didn't look for Tony. Somehow I became Tony. I was now running myself down. I was the one to beat. I've changed my whole mindset when it comes to running and it is paying off. A breakthrough.
As I rolled into mile 3, I noticed my 'shadow' dropped back a little. He slowed down for water and I opted to keep on going. For a 4 mile race, unless it's hot, I don't need anything to eat or drink. I knew I couldn't let him make it back up to me. I marked the split and knew this last mile had to count. The only trouble in the last mile, besides my legs hurting, was the wind. We finally had a headwind to deal with. I knew I had to work harder now to maintain my pace and keep the 'shadow' at bay. I had the PR lined up and was ready to take the shot. I was getting disoriented on the race course with all the turns we were making. I had no idea what direction I was heading in. I just followed the crowd and the volunteers that told me when to turn. I guess you could call the volunteers my human GPS system.
I got to the final straightaway that was ~1/4 mile long. I could see the finish line and was plotting out when I would pick it up. When I made my 'move' I ran hard to the finish. I held off the 'shadow' and more importantly, I took down another PR. This time I shaved 3 minutes off my 4 mile PR. The PR hunter was victorious again!
After I crossed the finish line, I met up with my friend Jennifer. She lives in the next town over and came down to cheer the Wingman and I on. She also doubled over as the 'official' photographer. Once the Wingman crossed the finish line, we went into the gym to warm up and then we went out for breakfast. The food was good and conversation was great. The only downer to the breakfast was they were playing Christmas music. Really?! It's not even Thanksgiving yet and we have to be subject to this torture? Bah humbug I say.
Photo Courtesy of Jennifer C.
So, what's next for the PR hunter? Hey 5k PR!! Yeah you. I'm talking to you. You can run, but you can't hide...........