There were two options for this race – a 5k and a 10k — and as I have been known to do when I have the chance, I opted for the 5k, which has all the benefits of racing with only half the pain of running a 10k! Since a lot of the faster runners tend to take the longer option when there’s a choice between 5k and 10k, the overall 5k times are usually at a slower pace, and that gives me a chance to finish higher overall in the race. Being an old age-grouper, anytime I can finish a race among the top overall runners it’s fun, and it’s even better when I can see exactly who’s in front of me and know my overall position throughout the race. For instance, in the previous week’s state championship cross-country race I was happy with my run but with so many of the state’s best runners competing I finished in 75th place overall, so I was just kind of lost in the middle of the pack. By contrast, in this 5k, which started 15 minutes after the 10k runners left, I could see my position right from the beginning, and for me that’s nice to see sometimes!
Since most of the big guns had left already in the 10k, lining up at the starting line was casual and friendly with nobody trying to jockey for position. I got a spot on the first row with my Gaston County Runners (GCR) friend Craig Hipkins and a friend I’ve known for several years from the Charlotte races, Frank Golden. Frank is a resident of Waxhaw and lives within a mile of the race site. Just in back of us was Scott Hammontree, a new GCR runner I met just a couple weeks ago at Planet Fitness. Also at the starting line was Hector Bauza, a fast 68-year-old from Lancaster, South Carolina. I’ve been in several races with Hector in the past and we’re always pretty close together by the time we get to the finish line.
After the gun sounded and we took off, I waited a minute or two for things to shake out and then counted the runners ahead of me. I counted eight runners in front of me and figured that was a decent spot to be in if I could hold it throughout the race. Craig and I were close to each other for the entire race. We overtook most of the runners ahead and by the middle of the race he was in 3rd place and I was just behind him in 4th place. The 1st place runner and eventual winner had a solid lead of a minute or so and was out of sight. We could both see the 2nd place runner but neither of us ever caught him. I never caught up with Craig either, finishing the race 14 seconds behind him, with Hector Bauza coming in just 12 seconds behind me in 5th place.
The race was long — 3.25 miles — so all of our times in the official race results were slower than they would have been in a standard 5k distance. My pace is listed in the results as 7:10, but as you can see on the data from my Garmin I actually ran a 6:51 pace, which is a pretty big difference.
The race ended on a loop around the high school track, which always makes for a nice finish since it gives people a little bit of time to see who they might be able to catch up with, and it also gave me enough time to look back (yep, I’m one of those guys) and see how close Hector Bauza was. You never know when somebody’s going to get all jet-propelled in the last quarter mile or so, but fortunately that didn’t happen to me. I would have liked to do that to Craig (who didn’t look back) but it was all I could do to just hold a steady pace.
There were delicious warm waffles and hot coffee at the finish line, which is hard to beat when it’s freezing outside. Despite the cold temperatures the morning sun felt pretty good as we stood around waiting for all of the runners to finish and for the awards ceremony that followed.
|GCR Members (left to right): Richard Hefner, Rick Gagnon, Ray Hodge,
James Urbanowicz, and Craig Hipkins (kneeling).
Time: 22:13 (actual distance 3.25 miles)
Age Group: 1 of 4 (Won 1st Masters)
Overall: 4 of 95
Average Heart Rate: 166
Maximum Heart Race: 175
* RACE RATING *
3 – Chip Timing: (3 points if yes)
0 – Starting Mat: (2 points if yes)
2 – Water Stops: (0)none (2)normal (5)extras [Gu, sports drink, etc.]
1 – Course Marking: (0)bad (1)good
2 – Course Scenery: (0)bad (2)pleasant (5)extraordinary
1 – Mile Markers: (0)poor or none (1)normal (2)with clocks or time called out
2 – Volunteers: (0)too few (2)good
5 – Finish line: (0)mediocre (2)not bad (5)very good (7)spectacular!
0 – Certified Course: (0)no (2) yes
0 – Correct Distance: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Partly or fully on unpaved roads: (0)yes (1)no
2 – Cost: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
3 – Race Day Registration: (0)no (3)yes
2 – Posted promptly online: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Clear link on website: (0)no (1)yes
2 – 3 deep awards: (2)yes (0 for anything less)
5 – 5-year age groups (5 points) (0 for anything less)
1 – 14 and under group (1)
1 – 65+ group (1)
0 – 70+ group (1)
2 – Top Overall M/F: (0)none or first only (2)top 3 or better
2 – Masters Category(40+): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Grand Masters Category (50+): (0)no (3)yes
0 – Senior Grand Masters Category: (0)no (5)yes
2 – Overall Winner Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
2 – Age Group Awards: (0)none (2)yes (5)excellent
0 – Door Prizes or Drawing: (0)no (2)yes (5-9)fabulous door prizes!
0 – Finisher Medals for All Finishers: (0)no (3)yes (5)really cool medals
7 – Food for Race Participants: (0-10 with 5 being average)
4 – Entertainment: (0)no (1-9)yes
2 – Finisher times posted after race: (0)no (2)yes
2 – Porta Potties: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – Indoor Restrooms: (0)no (1)limited, long lines (2)plentiful
2 – T-Shirts: (0)no (2)yes
1 – Design: (0)not good (1)not bad (2)nice (5)beautiful!
2 – Material: (0)cotton (2)technical fabric
0 – Discount for no-shirt option: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Professional Photography: (0)no (5)yes
x – Prices: (0)expensive (2)reasonable (5)cheap!
5 – Free Photographs (newspaper, etc.): (0)no (2)yes (5)lots of free pics!
2 – Close to Start: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Close to Finish: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Plenty of spaces: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Free Parking: (2)yes (0)no
2 – Dedicated race website (0)no (2)yes
2 – Results or link to results posted on website: (0)no (2)yes
0 – Shelter from Inclement Weather (needed or not): (0)no (2)yes
0 – Swag (free socks, water bottles, etc.): (0)no (2)yes, some (5)excellent
0 – Part of race series or Grand Prix: (0)no (2)yes