Mom and Dad drove down the morning of the race – leaving bright and early (6:00am) and getting to Gardiner around 7:40am – 20 minutes before the start of the race. Dad was “breaking” in the their new jeep. That meant he would drive it 70 miles per hour for a while, and then drop down to 50 miles per hour. He is quite the character.
Mom and Doreen planned on cheering Dad and I on. It’s not the most exciting way to spend a day. Watching the racers start and then end, but at least this race was built in such a way that with only a little walking spectators could see the runners three or four times. I guess that’s not too exciting either though. Doreen and Mom saw Dad and I for one or two minutes the entire time.
The race started around 8:00am – probably a little late, but I didn’t check the time. I was in the second row, and with only 50 total racers, there was no bumping, dodging, and slowing down as there normally are at races with more participation. My goal was to run hard, but not full-out, goal race effort. I always wanted to have a little “more,” but run harder than a normal tempo or interval workout. Based on how my training has been going, I thought I would have a very good time – beating my 5 mile PR (personal record) by, hopefully, quite a bit!
This is an interesting race. It is one of my favorites, probably because it is in my home town. I ran it first in 2002 with a time of 36:27. I’ve run it every year since then with these times: 2003 – 35:17, 2004 – 35:11, 2005 – 38:03, and 2006 – 36:06. As you can see by the times, the last couple years don’t look too successful. But, as sometimes it is hard to believe, times aren’t the only things that matter. The 2005 race was the DAY before the first of three operations I had that year. The 2006 race was the first race I did after recovering from those operations. Nevertheless, I wanted to have a big time improvement this year, and my training was having me believe it was very possible. I hoped the 35:11 5 mile PR I set three years ago, would be “removed from my cubicle wall.” (I pin the race bibs of my pr races on the wall of my work. Someday I hope it will start conversations. However, a funny looking thing Julie gave me as a Christmas gift has generated more comments. It is a pen holder that I stuck on my computer monitor. It kind of looks like a bug.)
Back to the race! Because I was so close to the front, and it was not crowded, I was able to start my “strong-effort, but not full-out-goal-race” pace. No position changes happened around me. I didn’t blow by people who started way to far out front, nor did anyone who positioned themselves too far back come zipping by me. The first mile went by in 6:54! Very good I thought. There was a lady directing traffic at the mile marker, and she had a stopwatch. She said something like 8:30’s for a time. She must have started her clock before the race actually started. I hope it didn’t mess anyone up.
Mile one was mostly uphill, and mile two mostly down. That would make you think it would be fast. It was. I got to mile two at 13:33 or 6:39 – 15 seconds faster than mile one. After this mile I knew this was going to be a fast, good race. I rounded the corner of the fourth and last corner of the first loop, and headed back to where the race started. The race is two times around a 2.5 mile (sort of) rectangular loop. At the half way point the person who gave the “get set, go” command to start the race was calling the half way split. Mine was 17:10. Very good I thought. Last year the split was several seconds over 18 minutes, ruining my sub 35 minute goal for last year.
Ok mile three was an interesting one. There are two individuals I “know of” who have entered several of the races I have run. We know each other enough to say “hi,” but that is about it. One is named Mark Johnson, and he is the President of Kennebec Savings Bank. He is in the 50 to 55 year old age group (not mine), but in all but a couple of races has finished in front of me. The other, Andrew MacLean, the mayor of Gardiner, is in my age group, and also more often then not beats me. Back in mile one M Johnson pulled up even with me. However, he decided it wasn’t his day, so he slowed down. A MacLean was always slightly in front of me up to this point in the race. As we came to the 2.5 mile half way point, he slowed down to take a drink of water from volunteers. Last year, after giving up my sub 35 minute goal, I took a drink of water. This year I did not, and was able to pass A MacLean.
As we started the second and last of the 2.5 mile loop of the 5 mile race, I was feeling very good. I knew he was behind me so I started to push the pace to try and separate. However, then I thought about my strategy: “run hard, but not full-out, goal race effort.” I decided to slow up and let A MacLean pull even. Once he did, I ever so slightly sped up, sort of pulling him a bit. He stayed with me for a half a mile or so, but then he dropped back.
I then pulled even to the eventual female winner. We passed the volunteer at the 1 mile mark – remember this is a two loop race, so in the first loop she was at mile one. In the second loop she was probably around mile 2.75. She was the volunteer who was giving out the time. Again, she called out the time on her watch, and again, it was a couple minutes slow. She said it was 20 minutes, when we had only been running around 18 minutes.
Mile marker three came, and the time was 20:34. That mile took 7:01. My strategy with A MacLean definitely cost me several seconds, as I could have run that mile faster. I think it was a good tactic to use at that time though.
Ok, now there were two miles left! I thought I would run one more mile “fast, but not all out race pace.” There were a couple young guys quite a way in front. At one point as they passed a driveway I looked at my watch to see the time. When I got to the driveway, I checked the clock and saw I was just over 20 seconds behind them. This was just before the 4 mile marker. Mile four was the third mile in a row that had a “30 something” as seconds: 27:32. This is actually 13 seconds faster than my four mile PR set three years ago, on an easier course! And I truly believe I could have run faster! I’ve been writing the times for each mile up to this point: mile four took 6:58.
Ok, the last mile! There was no way I would catch the two young bucks in front of me. As I rounded the third corner of the last loop I checked the runners behind, and saw they were a good 15 – 20 seconds back too. I thought they had as much chance to catch me as I had a chance to catch the two in front – very little. I gave up my “keep a little in the bank” approach and ran the last mile as hard as I could. If there was someone closer – in front of or behind, I think it would have helped. However, that wasn’t the case. I finished the race in 34:17. The last mile was 6:45. Compared to the other miles (1 – 6:54, 2 – 6:39, 3 – 7:01, 4 – 6:58), it was the second fastest mile.
I must say I am happy with the results. It was a pretty big PR – 54 seconds faster than the previous 35:11 PR, on a fairly lengthy course – 5 miles, after I have been running for quite some time – this is my seventh running year. Maybe it is all about the numbers????
Dad had a very good race too, finishing in 45:55
Well, that is the detailed race report. Thanks for reading it (if you got this far!).
Here is where the results are http://www.coolrunning.com/results/07/me/Jun23_Gardin_set1.shtml
Here is the 2.5 mile loop that we ran twice: http://www.runningmap.com/?id=16707