So I decided to sign up for a 5k when i got back from Chattanooga with the Evotri gang, and chose the Viking Fun Run because I figured it there was going to be awards for the overall winners, they had to be sweet viking trophies or goblets or something! Usually I am lured into these types of races for prize money or cool awards, its the little things :)
So Chattanooga was a huge training week for me, and the following week again was also another massive week. I was shutting it down at work because it was my last week with Terex, and was going to be transitioning into teaching. So having completed most of my finishing tasks with Terex, I had a lot of time to train...and that I did. Piling 2 huge weeks with solid intensity I figured I would be in for a rough week the following, but surprisingly my body was responding well and wanted more punishment. I had gone nearly 18 days without a full day off, and surprised I was still firing on nearly all cylinders. I wanted to try to get in one last big week, and then roll into a recovery week before my half ironman coming up on April 27th. Well, midway through the week the wheels fell off. Its amazing how well you can feel one workout, and then wake up the next day and be flatter than a pancake! I talked to Andy and strategized the plan leading up to the half, which clearly included a couple days off!
So I took the day off leading into the 5k, and went in with the mentality that I would run with the leaders for the first 2 miles, then pull away in the last mile, finishing 15-20 seconds clear of the field. Sounds easy on paper.
I woke up feeling good race morning after the day off, and thought if im going to run pretty comfortable in the race I might as well rack up some miles before the race...so i went for a nice easy 5 mile warm up, ran the course and checked out some of the local area before getting back to the start line, stretching and toeing the line. There was a 1 mile kids fun run, and a 5k that were starting at the same time, and sure enough, every 7 year old kid wanted to be starting right on the front line haha, which was fine with me because I was going in just to have fun with it and hopefully win a cool trophy! They shot the gun and the kids and I were off.
after about 200 meters of little kids screaming and sprinting, I weeded my way through them and noticed another kid, bigger than the elementary kids, but still a "child" way out in front and looking very fluent. I figured he had to be about 13-14 years old, and definitely in the 5k, so I opened it up a bit and closed the gap. Took me about 3/4 mile, but I comfortably closed the gap and greeted the kid. We ran together shoulder to shoulder up until the mile then he started to drop back...we hit the mile in 5:39. At this point Im thinking ok this kid got out hard and is clearly talented for his age, lets do a little coaching and see how tough he is...so I started to give him some words of encouragement, telling him to stay right on my tail and ill block the wind etc.
When we hit the turn around I could tell the kid was hurting, but a true fighter. He was not letting go of me without giving it everything he had, and I respected that big time! The fact that he didnt quit and say that guy is way older and coming second to him is good, ill just run comfort zone the rest of the way really stood out to me. He was gritting his teeth, breathing heavily...he was All In!
There was a short steep incline for about a minute after the turn around, and I let the kid know that if we are going to really push the pace up the slope here, then its all flat/downhill the rest of the way. I started to turn it over and with each stride he was hanging tough not letting me get out of reach.
Once we crested the hill I settled back into our early pace and kept yelling at the kid to hang tough, 1 mile left, anything to encourage him for a great race up to this point, but to make sure he finished it and wasnt satisfied with 2/3 of a great race.
His pace started to slip after cresting the hill and I was gaping him. At this point I thought to myself, what would I rather do, really lay the hammer down and go get my sweet trophy? Or do I continue to pace this kid to probably the greatest run he has ever had? I have always enjoyed coaching that age group of kids, and it was a no brainer at that point. I pulled back on the reins a little bit and let the kid close the gap and get within reach again...at this point in the race we were probably averaging just over 5:40s through 2 miles and change, and the last bit of the race was gradual downhill. I again gave the kid some encouraging words, and he was back into the stellar pace he started out at, he came around quick and was really moving now.
As we turned on the very last road and headed home we were just over a half mile to go in the race...and I thought to myself "What do i do? Do I kick it in and drop him here? Is this race really worth anything? If I do kick it in and finish with a 17:25, do I or anyone else really benefit from this? What about my trophy?
Meanwhile I am filling this kid with everything verbally I could to keep him on pace and to finish strong. I was so stoked at how he was fighting out there, and when I looked back to see his face, the pure grit and determination to hang on, to not let the race go, to take a huge risk and stand by it...at that point I knew what I was going to do...the kid had earned the race and he absolutely deserved the glory!
As we approached the final 300 meters, his family was in the distance and they were going ballistic! They were so happy for him, and that's when I told the kid you have less than one minute left in the race...Finish It! And that he did...he took off, I countered him stride for stride, and I looked down at my garmin...we were ticking off 4:40s over that last 300 meters...unbelievable!
Over the last 40 meters I took my foot off the gas and let him enjoy the moment. I could still hear his family going berserk behind me. I came in a few strides behind him, and its a good thing I shut it down when I did because the overall results showed him with a 17:41.2, and me at 17:41.7! And if that time isnt impressive enough, the Garmin clocked it at 3.19 for an avg pace of 5:32s!
The kid came up to me after the race and thanked me for pacing him, which showed a lot about his character. An appreciative kid who laid it all out on the line...I hope my kids are like him because that is picture perfect!