A few weeks ago, when I found out I didn't have to go to central Washington for a conference, I decided to do the DC Capital Striders' 8k. It was on the C&O, using much of the same course as the GRC Father's Day race, so it seemed a logical place to look for runners to come back a few weeks later, this time with cupcakes at the finish line. Then I got either miserably sick or suffered from miserable allergies, dropped out of a workout, didn't run for two more days, and slept until 2 in the afternoon on Saturday. I told my new friend Jen, whom I was supposed to meet at the race, that there was a 95% chance I wouldn't run, but I brought my racing flats anyway, just in case.
I got there, found out the store had gotten me comped, and figured there was little risk, except my health, so the 5% ended up happening.
You can see how uneasy I look
It looked like there was one guy who could give me trouble, a younger fellow with brown hair in an orange singlet. Rick, the DCCS dude, assured me I would win, but I didn't tell him just how much of a struggle it was to stay vertical. I sprang off the line, determined to get a jump on the kid. Within a few steps, I had it, and I kept going. My best hope was to put so much distance on him so that when we hit the turnaround and I saw him, I could feign intensity and scare him off a second time.
I came through the mile, shocked that I had run 4:53, the second fastest mile I had run in a race since the time I had gone out in 4:47 at GMU. I figured by that point I had a safe enough cushion from the kid and I backed off of my nutty pace. I hit the second mile in 5:22 and faced a dilemma with the coming water stop. My throat was on fire, I was sweating like crazy, I really needed a
drink, but if I took one, my pursuer might interpret my thirst as vulnerability and challenge me again. If I didn't take it, though, I could very well pass out. I didn't get out of bed to lose, so I declined the water. I got to the turnaround at 12:57 and went back on my way. It was a while before I saw the kid, and I estimated I had a 40-second lead at that point. I hit three miles in 15:45 and figured I had 11 minutes of reasonably hard running ahead of me. I was running against the crowd at this point, and nobody intimated that I had anyone close behind me. When the pack thinned, I saw a volunteer at mile 4 (21:37) and asked her how close "he" was, but I got no answer. Whore. I told myself I wouldn't look back until the little dip in the course with about a half mile left. I did, and I couldn't see anybody. At that point I took it easy and stumbled on in, right at 27:00. I found some water and sucked it down, then went back to cheer for Mollie and Jen. I wound up with a 24-second margin of victory.