Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fattie Ten Mile Champ

Oh no, I thought as the alarm went off at 5:10 am, and my ears quickly picked up the sound of rain outside. Forrest, my son, and I were scheduled to race each other in Batesville, Mississippi for the Fasttrack Fatties Athletic Club Ten Mile State Championship. I don't want to do this.

Forrest picked me up at 5:30, and we promptly drove to Waffle House for some early morning nutrition. The service was terrible but the food good and we managed to get out the door in time to leave early enough to make the two hour drive to Batesville, find the packet pick up, and show up at the race start.

The rain slackened as we drove, giving us hope that we just might get by without getting wet. It was still warm enough that a soaking would not have been too bad. But the temps were predicted to fall throughout the day. It could get bad, I mused with dread.
Forrest and I at the start

We made Batesville, found the race site, and parked the car. To make a short story long, instead of getting a T-shirt, the ten milers received nice hoodies. They proved indispensable later as we stood in the chilling air, damp with sweat, and waiting on the awards ceremony.

My plans for the day were modest at best. Originally, I had planned to run ten miles Friday leaving me with tired legs for the race. My reasoning was twofold: First, I thought I had no shot at placing in the race (I looked up last year's times on the internet), and second, I knew I had only two chances of outrunning my son: slim and none and slim left town. It's more important, I reasoned, that I get in a good volume for the week to prepare me for The Great Noxapater Journey Run.

Then, Friday, I went out for my run and .82 in I received a shot of pain in my left calf. It hit again, harder, a few steps later. O Lord, please, I prayed as I slowed to a walk and realized that Saturday and the journey run itself were both in jeopardy. I walked and shuffled slowly for a total of about three miles and went home to pray.

So all the way to Batesville I thought, maybe I can just shuffle through this and not damage myself. I hope. I even told Forrest, "I'm going slow today," and I meant it.

We started promptly at 8:00 am, and I did not feel well running. I looked at my Garmin and saw my early pace was 12:35 per mile. I felt heavy and out of shape. About a half mile in, I slowly began to pick the pace up some, went through the first mile in 9:42, and had no foreboding signs from the calf, so I set a goal for myself to run the ten under 10:00 per mile. Then I started feeling better. Duh, like I haven't learned from the past to go out SLOW the first mile. At one point during the second mile, I was running 8:40, my current 10K race pace.

During the second mile, about half way through I think, I came upon Forrest who I had assumed was far far ahead. I took my hunter orange cap off and stuffed it under my fuel belt. I then shifted outside and passed, hoping he maybe would not see me. I thought I had gotten away with it, but a bit later I saw someone in my peripheral vision move up on my left. I took a look and it was Forrest. Ruse foiled.

I, we, ran the second mile in 8:56. The next few miles were a ragged pattern of Forrest pulling ahead and me catching back up. I did the third mile in 9:17. Mile three to three and a half were in the industrial park and delta flat. I was surprised at how flat the course was. I caught Forrest during this stretch and while we ran side by side, he dropped his phone which went tumbling end over end. I let out a loud and long "HOOO Hooo Hooo!" Some nearby runners got a big laugh out of that. Then he dropped it again. I gave him another Hoo Hoo and told him, "God is on my side." We both laughed and I laughed so hard it hurt and my legs went week.

We left the industrial park and the course turned upward at three and a half. The next mile and a half were tough. I don't run hills well, but still I managed at 9:15 fourth mile, and a 9:21 fifth mile. Forrest pulled decisively ahead on the hills but as we approached mile six, I thought, the start and stop are at the same elevation. We have been climbing for almost two miles. Soon we have to descend

The mile six marker was at a turn and the road was flattening out. I was getting my pace back down and finished mile six in 9:21. As I rounded the turn, there was Forrest. I decided to at least give him one more big fright so I pushed, caught and passed him. He immediately pulled alongside me. Then the road turned downhill. I run downhills well. I think most runners fear them. If they are not steep, they don't tear your quads up IF, you run road level (lean into the downhill) and let your legs go (no braking). That's what I did, and I dropped Forrest in the process. I checked my watch, and at one point I was running mile seven at a 7:49 pace. That juiced me so much I thought, I'll make him really afraid, but who I frightened was me.

I did mile seven in 8:19, my current 5K race pace. When the course made a right hand turn, I looked back for Forrest. He was a little over a hundred meters behind. That's when I became frightened. For the first time that day, I thought, I can win, and from then on I was running scared.

Mile eight was completed in 8:40. The legs were talking to me at this point, but I tried not to listen. Mile mine was done in 8:50. I did my best to make mile ten faster, but a suffering 8:50 was all I could muster. I crossed the line a couple of minutes ahead of Forrest, and I was instantly rewarded with that deep sense of satisfaction that comes from a good effort, the kind where you know things worked out well and you left it all on the road.

I liked the course, the hoodie is super, and I not only beat Forrest, but placed second in my age group. All the ten milers received a super nice finisher's medal, and I got an additional medal for placing. 

I plan to be back next year. Maybe I can unfat a little, train some more, and move up into another age group, the 60-64. I'll kill those old guys.