This was my third straight year of running the Midnight Flight 10k, the first race in the Running Journal Grand Prix. After running a disappointing time of 47:07 in last year’s race I hoped to redeem myself by running under 45 minutes this year. Things worked out well for me and I chopped about 4 minutes off last year’s time, finishing in 43:09 (with a chip time of 43:04), finishing in 1st place in the 55-59 age group.
It was a little sad not having some of the Charlotte area guys there who I’ve run the RJ Grand Prix with over the past two seasons, but a couple of other Charlotte runners are there this year — Butch Holt and Louis Messina — so we’ve still got some representation from the area. I’ll be switching age groups on February 27, 2012, before the end of the current season, so the only points I’ll get will be in races before that date. I told Linda last year that I wouldn’t run this series this year, but since I’ll still be eligible for points in six races and they’re all a lot of fun I decided to give it a shot. Linda’s not thrilled but I think she kind of enjoys the traveling, and I figure as long as I’m able to do it and get some points I’ll stick with it.
At the beginning of the race I lined up near the front with Louis and we noticed that Butch had left us and lined up directly behind William Walker, a particularly fast runner in Butch’s age group (60-64) who has finished ahead of Butch a couple times this year. They’re two of the fastest runners in the state in that age group, and both of them are usually way ahead of me at the finish line. As we took off at the beginning of the race I expected to look ahead and see them out ahead of me but I didn’t see either one of them. I reached the 1-mile marker at 6:17 and still hadn’t seen them so I figured Butch’s plan was just to stay with him and not let him get away. Usually Butch goes out like lightning though so I wondered if a slower early pace was a good idea for him. The course is out-and-back, and as I turned around and ran a tenth of a mile or so I saw Butch, then another tenth of a mile behind him was William, so I figured Butch decided somewhere along the line that William wasn’t having one of his better races and he better take off on his own pace.
For me, knowing that Butch Holt was behind me gave me some incentive to try to keep up my pace. The last race we did together on July 4th was one of my fastest 5k races of the year, where I finished in 20:23. In that one Butch had completely left me behind after I stayed pretty close to him for the first mile. He finished that race in 19:44, faster than I’ve ever run, so let’s just say he’s usually not too worried about me. The sixth mile of this race is the toughest mile by far, with a long uphill climb that seems to go on forever. The past two times I’ve run it I’ve stopped and walked at least once and probably two or three times (I don’t remember exactly) but this year I was determined to keep running. I checked my heart rate as I approached the hill and it was 173 beats per minute, which is high for me but not too unusual. I decided to try to keep my heart rate at that level, speeding up if I saw 172 and slowing down if I saw 174, and I’d check it every 30 seconds or so. That seemed to work for me and the readout on my Garmin said I averaged a heart rate of 174 in the sixth mile. I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 43:09, with Butch 10 seconds behind at 43:19. In about six months I’ll be in Butch’s age group, and I’m hoping I can stay in good enough shape to give him a little bit of competition. Right now when I’m running my best and he has an bad day, I’m right there.
4 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
6 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10) (Nice hat this year!)
5 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 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)
7 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 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)
5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
7 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
TOTAL – 96
1st Overall Male: Ricky Flynn (31:50)
1st Overall Female: Caitlin Ranson (39:37)
Total Finishers: 318
Time: 43:09 (43:04 chip time)
Age Group: 2 of 16 (1 of 15 counting Grand Master bump-up — 1st place AG)
Overall: 31 of 318