There were six of us guys from Columbia as well as six girls that had made the trip. The girls had just finished their race as they had started at 1:00; we were running at 1:45.
A week earlier the six of us guys had run a 5k in Columbia. There had been 18 people in that race; I finished in 17:45 in 9th place. I wasn’t too disappointed with the time, especially with my injuries, but finishing in 9th place made me realize I would be way out of my league at Club Nationals.
The time reaches 1:45 and the gun goes off. The runners surge, I started running. This was only my 3rd time wearing spikes, and the first time in a race. So I started out conservatively, and quickly found myself behind just about everyone. After the first 300 yards, the pain in my Achilles began to subside so I tried to stay with Matt Dreier. Matt is definitely faster than I am, but he’s the closest to my ability on the team, if he had a bad day and I had a good day, I might be able to stay with him.
The first kilometer mark came and went at 3:38. At this pace, I would run a 36 minute 10k, definitely a little faster than I should be running, but everyone else was running even faster, first mile in 5:48… Matt began pulling away somewhere around this point. For the next few kilometers I tried to keep him in sight at least, but eventually I couldn’t see him anymore.
Three kilometers came at 11:10. With my limited training, I knew my endurance would be suspect. The course was a 2k loop, with the best runners probably going under 30 minutes; I knew it was likely I would get lapped. By the 4k mark it was a certainty as I heard the announcer say the lead group was already at the 5k mark. Several minutes later I reached the 5k mark, 18:51 into the race, around 6:05 per mile at this point. This was probably the toughest part of the race for me. Not only was that a slow 5k time, the leaders were less than 1 kilometer behind me and I was only half way through the race. However, I had been slowly picking off slower runners. So I resigned myself to getting lapped and making sure as many other guys as I could pass would get lapped first. In the next two kilometers, I passed around 4 more people and at the 7k mark I was finally lapped.
Between 5k and 7k, I had been chasing a guy in green, Brendan. I had finally caught him, and on the hills I would pass him, but on the down hills he would pass me and pull away. I made it my goal in that final 2k to beat him. However, between 7 and 8k he started to pull away for good it seemed. On the back half of the course, a muddy section along a river, he caught and passed two people. By the 9k mark I had passed the same two people and had worked my way back up to him. Knowing this was my last time going up hill, I picked up the pace in an effort to drop him for good and I slowly began to pull away.
The final 800 or so was a flat horseshoe shape with 400 yard into the wind and 400 with the wind to the finish line. A little worried that I would fade into the wind, I slowed up thinking Brendan would catch back up and I could pace off him, let him break the wind. Instead, a runner from the Wisconsin track club passed me so I tucked in behind him. As we rounded the final corner, he began pulling away. With 400 yards to go, he had about a 20 yard gap on me. At first I thought I had no chance, but then decided what the heck and went for it. So I went all out and tried a big kick. I pulled up even, but he out leaned me at the end…
293 Ben Schoener, 19, Grand Blanc, MI 38:18 6:10 Wisconsin T C 294 221 Ernest Rigdon, 32, Columbia, MO 38:18 6:10 Columbia T C 295 222 Brendan Brady, 25, Kenmore, NY 38:27 6:11 Checkers A C Splits: 1K – 3:38 1M – 5:48 3K – 11:10 4K – 14:57 5K – 18:51 6K – 22:45 8K – 30:44 9K – 34:43 10K – 38:15 Men's Team 27. Columbia T C 72 Matthew Laye, 24, Livermore, CA 32:28 5:14 86 Andrew Norton, 24, Columbia, MO 32:46 5:16 160 Ted Zderic, 33, Columbia, MO 34:22 5:32 166 Patrick Hanson, 21, Columbia, MO 34:37 5:34 213 Matthew Dreier, 30, Columbia, MO 37:04 5:58 221 Ernest Rigdon, 32, Columbia, MO 38:18 6:10 Time = 2:51:15 Places = 697 Women's Team 20. Columbia T C 49 Kimberly Moore, 25, Columbia, MO 22:17 5:58 76 Jillian Petersen, 22, Columbia, MO 22:54 6:08 87 Alison Hodgson, 26, Columbia, MO 23:17 6:15 93 Melissa Fleenor, 26, Columbia, MO 23:27 6:17 122 Beth Luebbering, 26, Columbia, MO 25:31 6:50 Time = 1:57:25 Places = 427