Alex and I got to the course about an hour before our race time, but we sat in the car watching the 10k runners slosh back to their cars. The two of us warm and dry began to wonder if the rain was going to let up before our gun sounded. Alex was a little nervous so he was quiet and was answering my questions, comments with one-word phrases so the conversation inside the car wasn't very lively. Still it was nice having him there and I could tell he was excited to run.
About 30 mins before the race start we decided to start walking to the starting line which was about a half mile away. Stripping down to our running clothes we left our jackets inside the car. Low and behold the rain let up - but the temp was still roughly 52 degrees, so it was a little cold. I love running in this kind of weather, but poor Alex doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body and he was shivering during the walk down the hill to the harbor course.
Once down the hill, the over 39 5ker's were finishing up so I took the time to point out the 3 mile marker, Start and Finish out to Alex since he was going to reach all of this WAY before I did. I think that helped because he really started talking and asking questions. Before too long the starter asked for us to start 'loading up'. Over 2000 runners were in our race and over 12000 overall in the whole 5-10k event. Dana Point's largest race (And they have been running this event for over 30 years) So you can picture the crowding in that started to occur. Still everyone around us was very pleasant, and thoughtful and actually it wasn't that bad. Alex and I found a spot next to the barriers and was fairly open and we were about mid-way in the pack.
Once the gun sounded - it took us about a 1:30 to get to the line (of course this is chip timed) and I really didn't see Alex again except for the turn around points. Now for anyone who hasn't run this course before it's basically a capital "H" in design the the cross of the "H" being the harbor bridge. Very flat and very fast so people 'ship in' from all over trying for PR's (not to mention there are some good cash prizes for top place finishers.)
The first mile went by pretty quickly - I spent most of my time filtering my way through the throngs of moving people - Alex quickly disappeared into the sea..... My breathing was good, but I lacked any real strength in my legs. I was disappointed to feel that because I had taken off several days before to help eliminate this. My back that had been bothering me so much over the past four weeks felt pretty good and I clocked a 9:58 over the first mile. I briefly saw Alex right before the first mile marker and he was closing in on some of the front runners (he didn't wear a watch but at the mile marker they were calling out times - 7:43 was his)
Mile 2 is always kind of tough for me - once again we cross over the bridge, and by this time my breathing was coming a little harder. People started to pass me, not many but enough for me to notice. Growing up I never had to worry about that, but as I grow older (and slower) its pretty disheartening to happen. 10:22 was my second mile split which I was still happy with since I was on pace to break my 33 min goal. Quickly doing the math I realized that the sub 31 most likely wasn't going to happen unless I turned in a really good third mile. Once again I saw Alex at a turn around early in the mile and he looked really good - falling back in the pack a little, but still his form was good.
The final mile on this course usually gets me pretty good. I've run this course many times over and now it's just a mental block in my mind. I was struggling at this point early on in the mile as Alex scooted by me going the opposite direction (this time look pretty tired). Once he past I just fixed in on a girl in front of me and let her keep pace. All was fine and dandy until the it came time for the final turn around for 'us' she quit on me! Just upright stopped at the turn around! After barely avoiding her going around the pylon (along with several other runners) I looked over my shoulder and said: "Come on - you pulled me now it's your turn." Slowly she filed in behind me and I could hear her for a little bit, but after about three mins she fell off. By this time I couldn't worry about her since the third mile marker was coming up. 10:41 I'd fell off again - the sub 31 min was gone - all I could do was power it up and finish strong. :53 seconds later I had clocked a 31:55 on my watch, happy but a little disappointed I felt I had left some out on the course......
Alex greeted me with a big grin; "How'd you do?" Was the first question out of his mouth. Without his watch we wasn't sure what he had clocked so we had to wait until the results were on the web site: 25:05. Not bad for his first 5k. He was pleased. I think that put him in 386th overall.
I didn't do as well:
Overall 1147 out of 2334
Male 688 out of 1116
Age (35-39) 90 out of 144
Total Time 31:55
Well I finished my race - had fun and reached my race time with a minute to spare. I can't complain with anything. Next year I'll be running mid 25's though, that will be something to write about.