|My new BFF, Bill Rodgers!|
I took the midnight train to Georgia for a 10k race on this weekend. Actually, it was an airplane. And it left around 4:00 p.m, not midnight. And the race wasn't really the primary reason for the trip.
My college, Syracuse University, joined the ACC this year for athletics, which meant that they now would be playing against my wife's school - Georgia Tech - in football (and other sports). We are both big football fans, so when we saw this game on the schedule, we just HAD to go to Atlanta to see it! We both have family and friends there too, so it is always a fun trip. We planned the trip much earlier, but I realized that, according to my training plan, I was supposed to run an 8k-10k tune-up race this weekend too. After a little research, I found an interesting 10k in Cumming, GA, which is not too far from Atlanta. We would fly to Atlanta on Friday afternoon, get some dinner, run the race on Saturday morning, shower, and head to the game.
This was my third consecutive weekend running a race. Two weeks earlier, I had run a 5k in 18:18. And just 6 days earlier, I had set a new half marathon PR of 1:23:56. This looked like a fast, downhill course, and I would be shooting for a 10k PR, but my legs definitely were not as well-rested as I would have liked. My PR was 37:33 (6:02/mile pace), which I set at the Pike's Peek 10k back in April. I wanted to average about 6:00/mile (or slightly faster) pace in this race.
One interesting thing about this race (besides the fast course) was that Bill Rodgers was the race spokesman! Rodgers is probably the greatest American distance runner of all time. He won the Boston and New York City Marathons 4 times in a row back in the 1970s, in addition to numerous other achievements. The FAST Pace Race was held to raise money for prostate cancer research. Rodgers decided to become a spokesman for this race because he is a prostate cancer survivor. And because it was not a huge race, we actually got a chance to really talk to him!
My wife and I approached him before the race, and were worried he might be annoyed. But he could not have possibly been more friendly. He took pictures with us and told us about the time he won the Boston Marathon even though he had to stop and tie his shoes. He even asked about our upcoming races, and when I mentioned the Philadelphia Marathon, he said that he would be there too. I was really excited to get to meet him!
The race start is a little over a mile (uphill) from the finish line and parking, so after warming up, we got in line for a shuttle to the start line. Once I got in line, Bill Rodgers came walking out and got in line behind me! We got to sit next to him and chat some more on the bus to the start.
|FAST Pace 10k elevation map|
We got off the shuttle and headed over to the start line. As you can see from the elevation map, the race does have some very nice downhills. What I was not expecting, though, were the uphills. Some of the smaller uphills along the way really wore me out! This course was actually much more challenging than the Pike's Peek 10k, which is almost entirely downhill. Also, my legs were pretty beat from races the past couple weekends, including a half-marathon PR just 6 days earlier. Not to mention that we had just gotten into town on a flight the night before. And it was also raining on race morning. But enough excuses! Onto the race...
|Bill Rodgers gave me my age-group award!!|
The first mile goes steeply downhill, and my time showed it with a 5:38. Even though it was downhill, this was too fast of a start for me for a 10k. I slowed down to a more reasonable 5:59 on the second mile. If I could just stay around 6:00 pace for the rest of the race, I would have a PR! I did run a 6:04 third mile, but I was noticing some of the small uphills, and I was really starting to struggle. The rain started to pick up here too. A lot of the 4th mile was uphill, and I slowed down to a 6:23. I tried to make up time during the 5th mile, but could only manage a 6:13. I stayed consistent in the 6th mile with a 6:16, and averaged a 5:27/mile pace in the final 0.2 stretch, which was down a very steep hill. I crossed the finish line in 38:01 (6:07/mile pace), taking 6th place overall and 2nd place in my age group. (Race Results) I got to see Bill Rodgers one more time at the awards ceremony, as he was the one giving out the medals for age group awards! He congratulated me and wished me luck in the Philadelphia Marathon. I was shocked that he remembered and actually took the time to say something. What a great guy! He remembered my wife, too, when he gave her an age group award for her 5k.
|2nd place age group medal|
|56-0!! Poor, poor Syracuse :(|