Saturday, July 4, 2009

7/4/09 Dollars for Scholars 5K

My Independence Day tradition has been to leave our Hood Canal cabin early in the morning and run the four mile race in Steilacoom. I have run that race eight times so it was a difficult choice to try another race on this day. The inaugural Dollars for Scholars 5K in Tumwater is being put on by some excellent local runners, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, supports a good cause and has some of my Club Oly runners/friends participating. For these reasons and that it is a shorter drive, I have decided to give this race a try. Capitol Blvd. and Israel Road are marked with traffic cones about every 15 feet, as the city prepares for the parade that starts at 11AM. Some people are setting up chairs, claiming the good spots already.

The race is supposed to start at City Hall, but the directions say to park at New Market High School on a different street. I soon find that there is a walkway between the two streets, so I can park and register at the High School, but it is a short walk to the start on Israel Road. Day of race registration is a snap. As I walk out the door though I realize that I have no idea where the course will take me. I saw a few chalk arrows turning onto Israel Road, but do not know the route I will be taking. Soon I find Bill and we decide to run a two mile warm up. He seems to know where the course takes us. Eventually I realize that the traffic cones are set up for this race. Running in the bright sun with orange cones gives me a flashback to Seafair marathon of 2008. Bill and I warm up easy on this soon to be hot day and we figure out the course to be a sort of figure eight. It is flat as can be and runs the last mile up Capitol Blvd. then right onto Israel Road. I like running in new places, but to race on a road that I often drive is extra special. I already know that for years from now whenever I drive here, which I do at least once a month, I will be reminded of this race. I hope I can make it a happy memory.

We return to the start area with fifteen minutes to spare. Meet some other runners. Happy to see Dan Muse here and running. Except that Dan is my age and faster than me. This looks to be a small event, maybe 50-75 total, and I should be able to claim an age group award. But Dan will be ahead of me. At least Phil is directing and not running. I do a few short strides before the start. Weather is the same as last week, brilliant sunshine and getting warm.

Start - A military honor guard leads us in the Pledge of Allegiance. I am lined up in front. I notice that Amber is directly behind me. I offer to switch places as she is super fast, but she declines saying that she is going to start easy. Phil blows the start horn, I start my watch and after two steps realize that Amber is already in front of me. I try to contain myself and not go off sprinting. I see that my watch is reading 6:40/mile, which is too fast so I pull back a touch. Soon we are making the first turn. My legs feel fine but the breathing is a little out of control. Not quite gasping yet, I am able to focus on the breathe and keep moving.
Mile 1 - We are fairly well sorted out now. Aid station as we cross Capitol Blvd and I take a cup, drink some and put a little on my head. Thank the volunteers. Thank the cops. Four of us are fairly close together and I feel like I should be able to pass them. Left turn with a long straightaway ahead. Take deeper breathes and try to relax. I think I can see Ben from the running store ahead.......way ahead. I gradually pass three of the four, then I get passed.
Mile 2 - Back to Capitol and the run up the parade route. Spectators in their chairs offer some support. I ask a group where the finish line I get away one finally yells that it is really close. Thank the cop at the intersection, thank the cop at the next intersection. This is wonderful for a little 5K, to be on the main street, cones marking every step and helpful cops blocking traffic for us. Pace is holding at 7:00/mile. I have slowed just a bit from the first mile, but I am well ahead of my predicted/hoped for pace (7:15/mile would have been fine).
Mile 2.5 - Legs feel good and I am relaxed and happy. Should be able to cruise on in to a decent finish time. Nobody close ahead of me and I don't hear any footsteps behind me. Tough to run my fastest if I am not chasing or being chased. Turn onto Israel and they have set up a legitimate finish chute with clock. Now I can see that I just might break 22 minutes if I keep running hard.
Mile 3.1 - Keep up the pace. Love having Craig and Rich cheer and yell my name as I approach. Cross the line in 21:54 and I am very pleased with that. I am handed a water bottle and I stagger off to the side wondering if I am going to be sick. Remember my friends behind me, so I turn back and see Bill cross the line. He has gotten much faster and really has a chance of beating me one of these days. He recovers and we cheer Tammy in. Then watch the remaining runners finish.
At the awards table I see a nice medal for age group winners and ribbons for 2nd and third. Plaques to the overall winners. Dan ends up winning overall Masters Male. This bumps him out of his age group count and puts me in first place. Bill takes second and someone else gets third. Tammy wins her age group since Amber was the female Masters winner. Some really nice raffle prizes are given away (note to self - Chamber of Commerce sponsored races should in theory have good raffles) but I do not win anything. Pleased with my medal and a solid race performance I head back to Hood Canal to soak my legs.

Next up - July 18 half marathon in Chelan

8th overall of 67 runners and walkers

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