Things went pretty well at the Dairy Dash 10K this weekend. I met my two main goals of a sub 70 minute time and I also ran the whole distance. I also had two secret stretch goals. The first was to finish in 66 minutes or less. I missed that one by 8 seconds, mostly due to not really paying attention to my time and having to do a lot of weaving during the first half of the race. The second was to not finish last in my age group and I met that goal due to the two guys my age nice enough to finish behind me.

The day was pretty interesting. First, there was a lot of traffic and there were a few minutes sitting in my car where I thought I might miss the race. Traffic eased up soon enough though and I got there in plenty of time. I immediately went and got my timing chip and went back to my car to put it on and take off my pants. I went back to the starting line and kind of wandered around. After a few minutes of standing in the back, I noticed that without any announcement or gun, people had started running. I started pacing back and forth to get warmed up and figured I would hang back and let the crowd thin out. BIG MISTAKE! I finally got started after 5 minutes of waiting and immediately realized I was in trouble.

This race was a combo 5K/10K and everyone started together. I had hung so far back that I was starting with the people pushing strollers. I spent the first mile weaving back and forth across two lanes of slow walkers, little kids, hula hoopers, and groups of 5 and 6 people walking abreast. Back and forth I ran, occasionally jumping up on the curb or down in the gutter to get around the slower people. I sped up when I could and slowed down when I had to. I pulled in behind a couple pushing a stroller and let them plow the way for me for a little while even though they were going a little slower than I would have liked.

Fortunately I had passed most of the the slower people by the time we got to the greenway trail which was much narrower, but there were still some stragglers in the way. Again I did the weaving and speeding up and slowing down routine. Again I let a stroller pusher do some crowd control ahead of me (she was a fast one though and I didn’t want to run her pace for long). Finally I saw the 5K route split off in the distance and was relieved that I’d finally be able to settle down and run my race.

Just after the split, things got a little better. I had room to run at my own pace and I wasn’t feeling too bad. As I passed through a small tunnel I heard a metal noise. It was a very distinctive noise which sounded not completely unlike a car key clanging on asphalt. OH NO! I looked down at my trusty shoe wallet, but I couldn’t tell without stopping if the zipper was open or not. I decided that it was a lost cause if the key had really fallen out and I just kept on running (after the race I found that the key had not fallen out, but the zipper WAS down with the key still inside!). About a mile later we came to the water stop and I grabbed a cup of water and sipped it like afternoon tea. It’s hard to be dainty when you are running. I also came up on an old man running intervals and his run interval was about my pace so I hung with him for a little while until he started walking again.

At mile 6 my legs started feeling a bit gimpy, but I kept on going. I ran with a woman for a while who was either singing to herself or talking to herself. I couldn’t decide. Just after passing the self talker I posed for the camera lady, showing her my guns. When I get a copy of that I’ll post it!

When I got to what I thought might be the home stretch I really turned it up and started trying to pass as many people as I could before the finish. As I was passing a woman she said that she didn’t think this race was ever going to end and asked where the finish line was. About that time it came into sight and I said, “There it is!” Even though she didn’t see it, she still kicked it into another gear and kept trudging along. As I neared the end a random person that I suspect was someone from the Nashville Striders message board hollered out my name and I just waved because I was into my breathing every two steps routine. I passed a couple of old men right at the end for my final triumph and immediately went in search of the ice cream I’d heard so much about.

Overall it was a good day and a good race. I learned a few things about racing in a crowd that should help me in the CMM half which is just a couple of weeks away. I also feel more confident about doing well at the CMM half and might actually try for 2:30:00 after all. We’ll see!