Race to Read 8k
This was on Saturday, its a part of my running club “Tour de Columbia” series but had fairly limited attendance – a week ago was a major race (Ray Tanner 12k/5k) and there were 2 other races in the area same day. About 45 runners, though a decent crowd was there overall as there was a sizable walk and kids run. Weather was unusually cold for SC in October – high 30’s at the start – I forgot my running gloves and I was pretty chilly in a long sleeve tech shirt and shorts. Looking around at the start there were a few familiar faces but none of the local elites. One guy, Greg, who is a friend of mine, runs slightly faster at the 10k than me and slightly slower at 5k. There was a thin, fast looking guy with a college singlet wearing Vibram 5 fingers shoes, so I assumed he would probably trounce the field. I didnt know him though. I wasnt sure how to do the 8k distance, so I averaged my low 6:20 and low 6:40 5k and 10k paces and decided to shoot for 6:30ish. My PR in the only other 8k I’ve done (in Nov 2009) is 34:08 (6:50 pace), and this was a very good race for me at the time.
With the gun, college guy goes out like a rocket along with three kids, with myself and Greg lagging behind them. The kids faded in the first half mile, and pretty soon it was Greg and I running side by side with college dude about 30 meters ahead. I told Greg that I thought college guy would win this race by several minutes, but he pointed out that the guy was breathing hard. Sure enough, the cold allowed you to see a lot of huffing and puffing going on way up front. We reached mile 1 at 6:36, right on pace. The course had an initial hill but much of mile 2 was downhill, which I knew we would have to make up given the loop course. We continued to gain on college guy, and by mile 2 we were running as a 3 person pack. Second split was also 6:30s. Greg and college guy then picked up the pace and gapped me by about 10 meters as the course started rolling and becoming more difficult. As mile 3 approached, Greg surged ahead of college guy and I ended up passing him as well right before the marker , which was about 6:40. I was starting to breathe harder but what was hurting me the most was a sense of lactic acid in my legs, burning around my calves. Thankfully as the 4th mile started, it was flat and then a long downhill before a ferocious hill in the distance. Greg had gapped me by about 20-30 meters at this point and I was really frustrated with this, as we should be pretty even at this distance. The extended downhill really helped me clear the lactic acid burn, and the gap held steady to the mile 4 marker, split was also high 6:30’s. At this point i knew there was 0.96 to the finish, a majority up the brutal hill. I know I’m both good at hills and at finishing strong, so I decided that this was my chance. The temptation of an overall win was too great too pass up, even though it was going to hurt. I really ramped the pace up the hill and made a huge gain on Greg, who seemed to be fading. At the top of the hill I was only about 10 feet back as we entered a quarter mile “nature trail” before a flat paved finish. I was just behind Greg as we were finishing the trail when I looked down and saw we had only .25 left. I then launched into an absolute sprint, even though I was hurting pretty bad by this time. Passed Greg as we hit the paved section and ran like a maniac. I had to suppress a dry heave on the last turn, but I could see I was leading by over 30 feet and coasted in with a 32:37 and my first overall win. Felt amazing, almost as good as my first sub 20 5k. It was a small race and not very competitive, but it was great to have to dig down deep and fight for it. PR’d by a minute and a half too!