2017 Race #3: Run for Retina Research 5K, London, ON

Date: April 9, 2017
Gun Time: 19:57
Chip Time: 19:54
Placing Overall: 6th out of 278
Placing in Age Group: 2nd out of 24 (M40-49)
Theme Song: You Are a Runner and I Am My Father’s Son“, Wolf Parade

You know, it’s a good thing I’m not as lazy a runner as I am a blogger. I realized today that I haven’t posted on this thing in over two months. So, I think it’s time to do a couple of updates and race reports. The most important goal I reached in the interim was finally running a sub-20 5K after trying for a couple of years. I’d like to say I discovered some sort of magic training regimen or was noshing down on radioactive quinoa or something, but really, I didn’t go into the race doing anything different than usual.

This race was the one I opted not to do in a freak early April snowstorm last year. I probably would have opted for the 10K, but my son wanted to run too, and so we packed into the car early on a Sunday morning to make the 45 minute drive over to London. In addition to the 2.5, 5, and 10K races there was also a half marathon to be run as part of this event, and runners were starting to gather at Springbank Park, where the events would be run on the asphalt trails along the Thames River. (Yes, the London in Canada has a Thames River. No London Eye, though. Or Buckingham Palace or Beefeaters or any crap like that. But hey, they do have the Guy Lombardo Pavilion!)

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Anybody remember Guy Lombardo? Probably not, since he predates even me. Anyway, he was from London. Happy New Year!

I’ll admit I had designs of a sub-20 in my head at the time. Even though I hadn’t been doing any really heavy training, I had just finished a pretty successful half marathon training cycle, and the weather was perfect; little wind, sunny, cool. The course was flat as a board. And given some of the times I had the previous fall I felt like the elusive barrier was in reach. We got our race kits, which contained a pretty nice quarter zip, and lined up for coffee at the Tim Horton’s wagon which was thankfully present. The 5K was the third of the three races to start, so we had to wait a bit while the half marathoners and 10K runners got going.

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Inside the Lombardo Pavilion, waiting to start.

As we lined up at the start, we endured a set of complicated instructions from the race marshal. Don’t turn around at the 2.5K turnaround pylon – check. (I would hope that I would notice the difference between 2.5 and 1.25K). If you hit Storybook Gardens you’ve gone too far. (Uh, OK). I decided to stay behind the people in front of me, and hope a simple out and back wasn’t beyond my comprehension. I wished Brendan good luck (his goal was to go under 28 minutes) and then the horn went and we were off. Once again, there were lots of youngsters in this race, but a bunch of them were wearing gear from a local London track club, and they were fast. I settled in behind a young girl with fiery red hair, with several other teenagers opening a gap ahead of me. There wasn’t much to say about the race itself – as I’ve already noted, it was flat, calm, and fast. I eventually passed red-haired girl (I found out later she was 12, and she finished right behind me, so good on her) and hit the turnaround to head back, feeling pretty good. A thirty-ish guy steamed past me after the turn, but I put myself in about 6th or 7th place, and vowed to hold there if possible. On the way back, we were greeted by the sight of a rather forlorn looking goose, standing over a broken egg. This made me feel kinda bad. Goddamn humans, trampling through everything. We suck.

Now, I had this vision in my head about what it would be like to finally break the 20 minute mark. I would come into the final stretch, legs pumping. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” or something equally cheesy would be pulsing through my head. I would see the finish line clock starting in a 1, and would flash a conquerer’s smile. I would puff out my chest, arms raised, and bellow like a Viking as I crossed the line, and maybe even grab a banana and spike it like a football to punctuate the poignant moment.

Here’s what really happened:

The last stretch was down a hill with the finish line around a sharp corner. While I appreciated the downhill, I couldn’t see the clock, and so didn’t know if I was at 20 minutes or how close I was. As I rounded the corner and crossed the line, I looked up and realized… the clock was counting the time for the previous 10K race.

Goddammit. No Viking yell. No banana spiking. Only mental arithmetic. How anticlimactic.

My math told me, based on when the 10K started, that I was probably just under 20 minutes, but I had no way of telling officially. B came rolling in a few minutes later (looking exhausted – he really wanted to please his old man I think) and he was totally befuddled by the clock. I reassured him that he wasn’t as slow as the time indicated, which mollified him.

A peek at the official posted results confirmed that we had both reached our goals, I at 19:54, and B at 26:58 (he finished 49th). There was no awards ceremony, but $25,000 was raised for research into macular degeneration, which was great. So, another goal to cross off the list. I guess I’m going to have to set some more challenges soon. And, there’s still the marathon looming in my consciousness. Getting closer, step by step…

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The requisite selfie.

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