I read somewhere that more people race on Thanksgiving than any other day. I guess they feel guilty about all of the calories they are about to consume but running a few miles only burns a couple pieces of pumpkin pie. Most Nashvillians head to the Boulevard Bolt for their annual Thanksgiving race. I debated running it last year, but battling it out with 9,000 other people to find limited parking doesn't float my boat. This year, I decided to stay in town and run the Indian Lake Loop for the third time.
My first year racing it, I was a few months back into running, after taking a few years off. I got beat by an out-of-town ringer, Brad Mason. We hung together for a couple of miles before he dropped me like a bad habit and I came finished 2nd place in 27:14. Since then, I've been waiting for my revenge but I haven't had the chance to race him yet. However, I was hoping I would have the chance for redemption this year.
Last Saturday, I started coming down with some virus or something. It's sapped all of my energy and has left me feeling really rundown and congested. Part of me (and my wife) thought I shouldn't run but I already paid the $25 entry fee and if I won, I would get a few restaurant gift cards, that I could use for date nights. Before the sickness, I felt like I could run 25:00 for the five mile course and keep it under control. With this sickness, I felt like it was going to be tough to run 26:00 and I was scared that Brad would show up this year and I would get dropped again.
The weather was pretty cool (low 40s) and luckily, it was really foggy. The fog seemed to act like my own personalized humidifier and made breathing a little bit easier. I slogged through a little over a three mile warmup, changed my shoes, did some half-hearted leg swings and strides and headed to the line. I didn't see Brad, which was somewhat of a relief. I wanted revenge but didn't want to finally have my oppurtunity to race him and lose because I was sick.
When the race started, a couple of high school kids took off. Normally I don't use my GPS when I race but since this course isn't certified, I decided to use it. I was about to pass the overeager teenagers, but I saw we were going around 4:45 mile pace, so I waited a bit longer. I passed one a little before a half mile in, and he sounded like he was about to go in labor. Guess he was about to find out that five miles could feel like a marathon. I ended up passing the other one shortly afterward and while he didn't sound too bad, I knew he'd pay the price later.
My watch said I was around 4:50 pace, so I backed off some. I was feeling much better than expected and went through the mile in 4:54. The second mile has some climbing with a 180 degree turn, so I knew I'd lose a little time. During this mile, you also run against traffic, so I was able to cheer on my Monday Night running buddies, Max and Justin, as well as some other people I knew. I ended up with a 4:57 that mile, and still felt pretty decent. At this point, I was realizing that I had a shot at sub 25, so I tried to stay on rhythm, without overdoing it.
In the third mile, I began to get a little bit tired, but I didn't force things because I knew I had a lot of running left. I came through in 5:03, which was still under 25 minute pace. In the fourth mile, you run up a hill that you hardly ever notice while running easily. However, it felt much bigger than usual and I struggled up (as I usually do on uphills). I lost a good bit of time on the hill and my GPS said I was running over 5:15 pace for that mile. I thought that was the nail in the sub 25 coffin because I didn't want to have to hammer hard. After another 180 degree turn, I was able to make up some time because the tough uphill was now a generous downhill. The mile marker was a little bit short as I came through in 4:52. At this point, I knew sub 25 was back in the cards. I then switched over my GPS screen so I could see the overall time to let me know what I needed to do.
I noticed that there was a 1/2 mile to go marker spray-painted in the road, so I mentally focused on trying to hit that at 22:30. When I hit that in about 23 minutes, I knew something was wrong. I tried to keep going and once my watch hit 24 minutes, I knew my shot at sub 25 was over. I crossed the line in 25:30 and was able to get a little over a five minute win.
I was a little bit bummed that my time was so slow but my GPS said I ran 5.24 miles. Most of the other people I talked to had between 5.11-5.14 miles (which would be about right for a true five mile course), so maybe I bobbed and weaved too much or something. At one of the turnarounds, they didn't have the cones ready yet, so maybe I ran down too far...who knows? One of my Monday night running partners had 5.14 miles, and our watches always beep at the same time when we run together, so I figure I added on somewhere.
Overall, it was a pretty good day. I had a lot left at the end and it felt like a good tempo run. I was happy to get the win but it's not the reason I run. I can tell some people that I had a good race but they will poke and prod to see if I won or not, like it's a failure if I didn't. I've won several races that I considered bad performances and this past year, I finished 15th in a race, but was really pleased with the placing. You can't control who shows up, only your individual performance. I felt like this race shows I'm getting my fitness back and will be rolling once this sickness passes.
Mile splits with GPS measurements:4:54 (1.02), 4:57 (1.02), 5:03 (11.04), 4:52 (.95), 5:44 (1.22)