March 16th was Johnny’s Running of the Green, which is a very popular and very competitive 5-miler, usually being won in under 25 minutes. Most recent victors have included the 2005 NCAA Division 3 cross country champion and a Division 1 runner with a 5K PR of 14:18. I’ve been doing a lot of miles lately, but not a whole lot of workouts, so I knew I was in decent shape, but certainly not PR shape. I figured I could run around 28:00 or so. The start was chaotic. The course is an out and back, and the start always used to be right next to the finish, so you would basically just run out for 2.5 miles, turn around, and run back. This year they moved the start to a side street but didn’t tell anybody. So at the time the race was supposed to start, thousands of people are still milling around, trying to find the start line. My teammates and I knew where it was and lined up, but everybody else quickly lined up in front of us, so we were 50 rows back. We exited out the side of the crowd and stood off to the side until the race director moved everyone back, and then got back in line towards the front. Then the gun went off and we were off!

Where’s Waldo?

I quickly settled into a good pace and found Dave Bradshaw, whom I have been battling over the past few races. He is a local legend and has run under 2:30 for the marathon. I asked him if he wants to run 5:30s and he said yes, so I latched onto him and just paced off of him. We came through the first mile in 5:27, a little quick but it felt good. We kept up the pace and managed to split even faster for the second mile: 5:25. Then the turnaround came, with has a small incline and then a roundabout. I usually slow down here, but I managed to stay focused and hold onto a 5:32 mile here.

Running scared because Dave is right behind me

Shortly after the 3rd mile, Dave was tucked right behind me, drafting off me. A woman still on her way out saw us and yelled, “Pass him now! He looks weak!” I was actually feeling very strong and relaxed, and was magically in front of him, so I got pissed off and said, “F you, I’m not feeling weak!” and put in a surge to prove it. Dave came with me and said, “Dude, that was my wife.” Whoops! I apologized and said I didn’t mean to swear at his wife, and he replied, “That’s ok. If you let me beat you I’ll forgive you.” Well, I told him that he might beat me, but he would have to work for it.

Shortly after “The Incident”

We split 5:35 for the 4th mile then, and he was still right on my heels. I somehow always manage to run a really fast last mile here, and there were some people up ahead of me that I knew I could catch, so I started grinding down. With about half a mile to go, I got up on my toes a bit and started to run them down. Of course Dave came with me. We passed one dude, and then with 200m to go, I went into an all-out sprint and passed the other guy who was ahead of us. I was kicking as hard as I could, and knew I had put a few seconds on Dave, when all of a sudden someone came up beside me. I looked over, and it was him! We had less than 100m to the finish, and we were side by side. I sprinted as hard as I could, and he did too, and neither of us were giving up any ground. Finally, with maybe 5m to go, he pulled just a hair ahead of me, and ended up besting me by a matter of inches. We had both run the last mile in 5:16, and were given the same finishing time of 27:17. That is only one second slower than my PR, which I ran in the middle of an intense training segment. So being able to run that fast without any structured speedwork is encouraging!

May the better man win! I guess in this case it was the man who didn’t swear at the other man’s wife…

Also, I ended up getting 16th overall and 3rd in my age group, which landed me a bottle of wine. Dave got 1st in his age group. I also apologized profusely for swearing at his wife, but he said he didn’t think she heard me. Hopefully she understands that it was a crime of passion and I would never say that to anyone in any other condition!

Expounding on splits

Many, many thanks to Tim and Tommy from Runnerpics and Barb Boutillier for the photographs of this race!

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