Even though I am till in my "off-season", the raceaholic in me decided to sign up for this race. This was a first-time, low-key event that took place in a small town outside Mt. Juliet. The event was a fundraiser for the family of Danny Rollins, to help in his fight against cancer. A lot of people showed up to support the good cause, which also included a bake sale and music by a bluegrass band.
I was hoping to use this as a hard workout around 10k effort, instead of a flat-out race. I'm starting to slowly sprinkle in some faster running, so hammering a race probably isn't the best thing for me right now. Unfortunately, Festus Chemoi showed up. I haven't raced Festus in over a year but I knew he has been busy with work and hasn't been racing as much as he would like. However, he is a talented and tough competitor, so I knew I would have to run hard to have a shot at beating him.
Festus has run under 1:50 in the 800m and has a 1500m PR of 3:44. While he's not in his best shape, I knew he had a ton more speed than me, so I would have to keep a hard pace and try to crack him before the last mile. We ended up warming up in the pouring rain together and catching up with how life has been treating us both.
When we were called to the start, it was still raining and there appeared to be around 100 people. The small, hand-held air horn started the race and we were off. I took off from the gun and Festus quickly joined me. I could tell the pace was way too hard, but I tried to convince myself that the hard pace would be more beneficial to myself than Festus. After about 3/4 of a mile, Festus put in a hard surge and immediately put about 4-5 seconds on me. Even though I knew I had to stay close, the pace would have been way too hard for me to handle, so I let him go.
I went through the first mile in 4:41, with Festus still several seconds ahead. For a brief moment, I had visions of myself fading off even more and tasting defeat, but I quickly snapped out of it and focused on pursuing him and not giving up any more ground.
The race was an out-and-back course and I could see the turnaround not too far down the road. I checked my watch and saw that the course was going to be a good bit short, which benefited Festus more, so I focused on catching him quicker than I anticipated. According to my Garmin, the turnaround was right around 1.4 miles and a within a minute or two, I ended up catching and passing Festus.
I knew I had to keep my foot on the gas, even though the fast start was starting to play its effects on me. I went through the second mile in 4:53 and after about another half mile, I was pretty sure I had the win, so I backed off a tiny bit to earn the win by about 15-20 seconds or so.
It's always nice to win but I was a bit frustrated that the pace wore me out so much. A month prior, I went through three miles of a half marathon much faster and feeling much better than this. But in the off-season, it's good to get a bit lazy and lose some fitness. After the race, Festus and I knocked out another three miles, and exchanged numbers so we can get together for some runs in the future.
Despite the pouring rain, it was a fun race for a great cause. Hopefully they were able to raise a lot of money and for a first year race, they did an excellent job.