It was all Summer and no Breeze at this year’s Summer Breeze 5k that starts and ends in Freedom Park. It’s a popular race in Charlotte that has been an annual event for about the past 30 years. It was a nighttime race until two years ago when it switched to Saturday mornings, and it’s one of the few races in the area that has separate starting times for men and women, with the women going out at 7:30 a.m. and the men going out a half hour later at 8:00.
For me personally, I was all sizzle and no steak. I seem to be a notoriously slow starter anyway and there’s quite a bit of uphill in the first mile of this race. Maybe I need to develop a better pre-race warmup routine or something, but for whatever reason, in the first mile of most races (including this one) everything seems to come unglued for me. In the longer races such as half marathons or even 10k’s I’m able to start more slowly and gradually work my way up to speed, but in the 5k races if you take a lot of time getting out of the gate you get left behind quickly and there’s not enough time left to catch up.
Despite the protests from my overheated radiator, I managed to get through the first mile in 6:44, which is only 10 or 15 seconds off of my normal time lately. More hills awaited us though and I slowed down to 7:12 for the second mile. Luckily for me there was a pretty long downhill section in the third mile and I was able to make up a little time with my fastest mile of the race at 6:42. My final time of 21:21 wasn’t that bad really but it was one of those days I felt bad from start to finish.
One thing that didn’t really work in my favor was the number of fast old guys in this race. I never worry about the young guys up front because (a) I can’t outrun them anyway, (b) they’re too far ahead of me to see them most of the time, and (c) they’re not in my age group. Right before this race started, Steve Staley yelled out something like, “Better do a Geritol check on that front line!” (If you don’t know what Geritol is you’re probably too young to get it.) Anyway, as the race started it looked like there was a bomb scare at the old folks home with gray hair, white hair, and bald heads all bobbing up and down in a sea of old guy soup, all running faster than old guys should run. Of course there were plenty of younger runners in the mix as well, and as fate would have it the race was won by a particularly fast 15-year-old, Timothy Gruber of Huntersville, in a time of 16:41.
To give you an idea of how dominating the geezers were in this race, I finished 33rd overall out of 462 runners. Of the 32 runners ahead of me, 16 were over 40 years old, and half of them (8 to be exact) were over 50 years old. So let’s hear it for the geriatric set… maybe we really should do random Geritol tests before races.
9 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
4 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
2 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10) (Man does not live by bread and bananas alone!)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
6 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
5 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
0 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
3 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities (Need a few porta potties for 500 runners)
0 0-10 Other
TOTAL – 77
Age Group: 3 of 11
Gender: 33 of 185
Overall: 33 of 462