Running the Numbers

Yesterday I ran the 3rd annual encounter 316 5k race hosted by First Baptist Church of Thomasville, Georgia. I really like these small town races and especially the beautiful spirit of the members of the host church. From the moment I walked on the property I was greeted warmly by most everyone I met. Unfortunately, the morning had not started out quite as well for me.

I had planned on getting up around 5:45 AM but actually woke up around 5:00 AM with the kind of stomach cramps that often accompany food poisoning. Unfortunately, an extended restroom visit did nothing to alleviate the situation and I found myself going through all sorts of mental gymnastics trying to analyze my options. I just don’t give up on goals that easily, but this one was very tempting!

I convinced myself that I would have a number of McDonald’s restrooms between me and my race destination and that this would allow me to make a better decision upon my arrival. And so, in a massive step of faith (or my often spoken of obsession with running, races, and goals), I gave my sleeping wife a goodbye kiss and asked her to say a prayer for my stomach cramps, loaded my gear in the car, and was underway on a 60+ mile trip up to Thomasville.

I drove about 13 miles to the center of Crawfordville, Florida and almost turned around as the cramps were getting a bit worse. Another 10 miles and I was north of Crawfordville, still in the pitch-black of night, and feeling a bit nervous about the distance between me and the next McDonald’s. At that moment I remember saying, Lord I’m going to need your help on this one! Nothing fancy or super-spiritual – just a simple plea for help. North of Tallahassee, my cramps completely disappeared. I remember looking down at my odometer when the pain departed and was 40 miles into my trip and on the North side of Tallahassee. The pain never returned.

As I arrived at the church there in Thomasville, the next question that came to mind was what to wear for the race. I usually run in technical shirts but had brought a long sleeve cotton shirt with me since the temps were supposed to be in the 50’s and since I had no idea how much wind might be around. I put on my cotton t-shirt and walked around the block to pick up my race packet and technical shirt. There was a chill in the air but no wind and I knew I would be warm after the first mile and changed back into the technical shirt for the race.

The kids one mile fun run was scheduled for 8:00 AM and the 5k was slated to start twenty minutes later. I watched the kids come across the finish line and was quite impressed with some of the numbers. The young boy that won the race turned in a time somewhere around 6:30. I was impressed!

Not long after, we lined up and were underway. For the past couple of years, I had mostly been walking and doing very little running. In fact, in my transition back to running again, I had only put in 11 days of training in preparation for this race. I started with 4 runs of 1 mile each followed by 7 runs of 2 miles each – all on 11 consecutive days including the day before the race. The race was going to be my graduation to the 3 mile (or 5k) distance and with all things considered, I thought it went pretty well.

Even with several down hill and up hill locations on the course, I was able to maintain a pretty steady pace and had a little left over for a strong push on the uphill run to the finish line. I crossed the line at 26:50:55 and received a medal for first place in my age group. If they had been awarding medals for oldest runner, I probably would have won that too! 🙂

I turned in an 8:40 per mile pace which was very much in line with a few of my best training times on my two milers. Today, the day after the race, I ran a 3 miler and turned in an 8:45 per mile pace. The extra wear and tear of a second three miler (two days in a row) was somewhat compensated for by my much flatter (in fact, entirely flat) home course!

Looking forward to the Marching Chiefs 5k in Tallahassee in a couple of weeks!


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