3rd time here, but not since 2008. Same course. Supposed to be a hot one, but as I drive into Grays Harbor County, the fog is in and it is cloudy and cool before I warm up. $5 day of race with the no T-shirt option is wonderful.
Plenty of time to gradually warm up. I run out from the finish and notice paint on the street corresponding to mileage of some kind. 1.92, 1.86. 1.82, 1.76. I get in two miles and feel pretty good. Now where are the people? The start is a quarter mile from the registration table and everyone is still milling about the table area. Race begins at 9AM. It is 8:45 and I am the only one near the start. It is a small event, but there is also a 5K and a 2 mile walk. One other runner comes by, then one more. She asks where the start is. We wonder what is going on and start back to the table. Then we see a few people walking up and we go back to the start. A few minutes later, still only a couple of us here so she and I set out again. I am relaxed but she seems to be stressing that we are going to miss the race. 8:58AM and 4 more people are walking up the road, looks like more farther back, but no one in a rush. Ok we will just start a little late. See my niece's neighbor Mike. Other than him and Shawna, I do not know anybody here.
9:10AM Start - We are finally gathered at the start and ready to go. Policeman says that he will lead the way and then patrol the roads but be careful as the roads are open to traffic. I am up at the front and after a dramatic "on your mark....get set...go!" we are off.
Mile 0.2 - Out the side street and onto the main road. There is a wider shoulder on the right and we will be turning right real soon, so I move to the right side of the road. The runners ahead of me have stayed to the left and I don't know what is going on behind me. I feel like I am all alone. Soon enough we turn right and all of us hug the edge of the road through the main part of town.
Mile 0.5 - Three runners are already well ahead of me, and one other is just ahead. I gradually catch and pass her. Running pretty hard, but it is a 10K race.
Mile 1.0 - 7:15. Almost as fast as last week and that was a downhill start. Worried that I will slow, but not much I can do about it now. One of the three ahead of me has turned around as he is doing the 5K. That puts me in third place. One man and one woman ahead and getting smaller by the minute.
Mile 2 - Right turn with a few spectators and I can not help but look back. Yikes! A man and a woman about 100 feet back.
Mile 3-4.5 - Country road. Pushing as best I can. Really trying to focus on my form. Don't let my mind wander. There is a guy putting a stool out on the street with a free sign. It would be funny to sit in the chair real quick. Stop thinking about this and get back to thinking about running. Make this an exercise in concentration. When I focus on form I go faster. At times I can sense and maybe hear the runners behind me. I am slowing a bit but not too bad. I think that they will catch me. Don't look back, that will only encourage them. 5th place is still good. But not as good as 3rd. I will not relent. Aid station up ahead.
Mile 4.5 - Aid station. I can not help it, I look back and yikes! The two runners are a little closer. Definitely too close for comfort. Warmer now and I pour some water on my head and drink a little. Make it to the turn and decide to put on a surge around the bend. I run as fast as I can for a bit, hoping that when my chasers get to the turn after they get their water, they will see that I am farther ahead and hopefully out of reach. Bit of strategery here and I can only hope that it will work. Now back to my comfortably hard pace. No pains, just can't make the legs go any faster.
Mile 5.5 - Onto the road home. Construction painting here. 1.22. 1.26, 1.32, 1.36, 1.42.....I remember that the finish line is about 1.92 so I know how far I have to go. Curve in the road, I cross over to take the inside tangent and be on the same side as the finish line. Bit of a downhill, now overlap where we started, quick look back to see that I am locked into third place and then sprint to the finish.
Finish - Mile 6.2 (6.17 on the GPS) Average pace of 7:28 is faster than my pace for the 4 miler last week. Flatter course, but I really did feel better today. 90 seconds slower than I was here 6 years ago, but I am very pleased with my time. Cheer on the finishers. Awards only for the top male and female, so I go home empty handed, but happy.
3rd place of 25
Race#331, Bear 10K #3