Saturday, November 19, 2016

Avondale 5K

Westerly, RI
Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Avondale 5K, also known as the Westerly Land Trust 5K, but officially known as Setting the Pace for Conservation 5K. Yeah, long name.  Hence the fact that many runners generally call it either of the former.

Anyhow, it had been over a month since my last race.  After a summer of too many hot races run and not enjoyed, it was good to take time off from racing and enjoy group runs instead. 

The night before the race, I went to a local Mexican restaurant with Jana, and ate way too much.  (They put it on my plate, and I paid for it, therefore I had to eat it all, right?)  Someday I'll learn portion control, but this wasn't the night.  Rolled into the house feeling overstuffed and worried I'd already killed my race.

This is how I felt the night before the race,
after gorging non-stop on delicious but very filling Mexican food.
At the start of the race the next morning, Sam, one of Matthew's XC teammates asked what I expected to run.  How to answer?  This was the course just a year ago where I set my 17:32 PR, but that's when I had already had three sub-18 races last year and a number of 18:0x races.  This year my fastest 5K time was 18:23 and my food obsession from last night is not helping me.  I told him I'd love to get near 18-flat, but my best guess was 18:15.  He told me he would try to stay with me as long as he could.  Great, I welcomed the company.

And we're off.  I'm in the green singlet about 5th place.
(Photo by Jana)
Mile 1:  Very quickly Tom and Jonny Eckel settled in running together at the lead, and Sam and I a short a distance behind.  Uneventful first mile.  5:44

Coming through the end of the preserve loop with Sam, at the 1K mark.
Mile 2:  Turning off Watch Hill Road and onto Avondale Road, I could no longer hear Sam breathing, and figured he was dropping off.  Darn.  I didn't really care if he beat me, but I was rather hoping that he would push me or we could work off each other, as Tom and I did last year.  It wasn't in the cards.  At the turnaround loop at the end of Champlin, I could see Tom had now put quite a gap on Jonny and that Sam was dropping further back.  Running as an island is the prime condition for me really slowing the pace down, but I somehow came through the second mile in another sub-6 split of 5:54.
At the Champlin turnaround, nearing 2-mile mark.
Note the beautiful blue sky on another perfect fall day.
By myself for the first time this race.
(Photo courtesy of Seth)

Mile 3:  Just hang on now.  As I made the final turn off Avondale Road to come back into Avondale Preserve, I could see Tom way out ahead, but noticed Jonny actually came back to me.  While not in reach, it was the impetus I needed to pick up the pace.  Passed the 3-mile marker and started sprinting.  When the clock came into focus, I could see it ticking at 17:51.  It is always so deceiving.  Crossed the line as it said 18:00, which in a SNERRO race means my official time was 18:02.  (3rd mile was 5:47)
The old man trying to sprint in under 18, but it won't quite happen.

3rd place.  1st in age group.  Official results here.  Congrats to Tom on the overall win and sub-17 finish.  I had to tell myself to stop fidgeting over the fact that I should have been able to make up 3 seconds somewhere on the course, and focus instead on that I had run faster and more consistently than I had expected, it was my fastest 5K time this year, and that every split was sub-6.  OK, now I feel better!  Had a nice cool-down with Tom and several high school runners before awards ceremony.  Keeping with the Land Trust conservation theme, I got another winterberry bush, and last year's is still alive in my backyard, so hopefully that bodes well.  Very happy to support the Land Trust.  It's a great organization, on whose trails I run frequently.
Age group award, and this year's giveaway.

Onto Li'l Rhody ...


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