St. Patrick’s 5k
Like I said in my previous post, evening runs are hard to figure out. Plus I’m not in the greatest of shape right now due to my bouts of strep, but things worked out all right. After about a mile of warming up, I got up to the starting line. It felt good to be back in a race and to see so many familiar faces in the run. There wasn’t anyone I recognized as being super fast, John Richardson was there who typically runs around 18:20 or so was there, so I was a little concerned about him. One runner looked to be in high school, thin and wiry, he had the looks of a runner, he was definitely a concern… Immediately after the start, the kid took off. While his pace wasn’t unmatchable, it wasn’t something that I could maintain for a 5k, so I let him go and instead ran with John at a much more comfortable pace. slowly the kid began to pull away, I figured he’s either going to blow up and we’ll catch him, or he’ll keep up his pace and when by a minute or so… At the first mile, our time was 6:20… A little too slow, but boy this felt better than really pushing the pace! But, at this pace, we would be lucky to break 20 minutes so I decided I needed to push things a little. I took the lead and moved to the front, 12:20 at mile two, we had covered the second mile in 6:00. The only problem, while I had picked up the pace, John was right there on my feet… The kid was pretty much out of sight by this point, except on some long straight aways. With half a mile to go, John took the lead… This gave me a little chance to recover, but I was a little afraid he might start pulling away because I was hurting… But fortunately he didn’t, I was able to hang on. With about 500 meters to go or so, I kicked and John wasn’t able to go with… Final time of 18:20 with John 3 or 4 seconds behind.
The Crit started at 9:30am and with a field limit of 50 in the Category 5 I decided I should get there fairly early. After leaving Columbia at 6am, I arrived at the race site around 8:20am. Registration went smoothly and I then went to Walmart to get a little something to snack on. Once I had my bike assembled, I took a couple of practice laps on the course and tried to figure out how the race would likely progress. The course consisted of around a 1/4 mile gradual hill right at the start of the race. The initial 100 meters of the hill was slightly steeper and then it leveled out to a gradual incline. At the top of the hill, there was a 90 degree left hand corner. This was followed by a flat stretch with another 90 degree left hand corner. From there to the finish it was pretty much downhill with one more 90 degree left hand corner about 200 meters from the finish. This final corner would be key as it would have to be taken at a high rate of speed in order to have a chance in the final sprint.
There were around 40 racers lined up at the start. Two of the racers were decked out in Big Shark gear, and five of the racers were Team Mack… the rest were a smattering of racers, but they all looked intimidating to me. The format was 20 minutes, followed by 5 laps, after riding the course for 20 minutes, we would have 5 laps for all the marbles. My plan was to stick with the pack, hope no breaks get away, and see what happens in those last 5 laps. Things ended up working out ok! We made it through the 20 minutes without any wrecks and no successful breakaways. Two guys went off the front for a little while, but we kept them close and pulled them back eventually. I was feeling the effects of the previous nights 5k, but it seemed like I was going to be able to hang with them until the end. Finally, after 20 minutes and 4 laps, the bell lap sounded. I had been at the back of the pack, but was usually able to move up at will on the hill and despite a definite increase in the pace I moved up an by the top of the hill was sitting well in about 4th place. We came up to the next corner at a much higher rate of speed and the guy in front of me clipped his pedal and almost went down. This slowed me up for a second, but I managed to hold my position. Now we were going downhill and fast. A dogfish rider attacked and the two of the rider in front of me went after him, but the rider directly in front of me couldn’t react. So I picked up my pace and went around him. But in the meantime, a Big Shark rider in front counter-attacked. I caught the dogfish rider and we were to the corner, cornering at 30+ miles an hour, but I was around the corner a split second after the two lead guys and they were all ready starting their sprint. I ramped it up as much as I could, but at this point I was pretty much just solidifying a third place finish. I finished 3rd once before in a crit, back in 1989 as a 15 year old in a race with about 11 starters, this was something completely different and I was happy with the result, definitely ready for my next bike race!