This is my life. Sometimes shown through the eye of my camera phone, and sometimes not. I'll talk running, gadgets, music, and whatever else I stumble on to

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A personal record: Fox Chase 5K

Fox Chase 5K t-shirt and personal best

(click photo to visit my Flickr)

What: Fox Chase 5k Run, Fox River Grove, IL
Oct. 21, 2007
Start time: 9:00 a.m.

Finish time: 00:26:01:08 (a new PR)
Old 5k time: 00:27:35:01
Overall finish place: 58 out of 129
Overall Male finish place: 51 out of 89
Overall Age group finish place: 11 out of 13
Average time per mile: 08:23:05

It's a new personal record for me, which I am very happy about. Race organizers weren't kidding when they boasted how challenging and hilly the course was.

Mile1: This isn't so bad. The start was on a rural street surrounded by homes. There are a lot of young Whipper Snappers competing in the race. My guess is they come from the local high school. The course is mostly flat during this first mile. My minutes per mile was 8:21 which was faster than I would of liked considering what was in front of me. Still, my pace felt good, and I felt strong. I can already see the first hill ahead. This should be fun...

Mile 2: What goes up, must come down: The hills seem big. They're rolling hills with sloping grades that seem to take forever to get over. My pace dropped down to 8:43 per mile, but the hills keep coming one after the other. Some curve around, others are straight and have fast drops. All I could do is hope to keep pace and not fall flat on my face on the way down. My legs hurt a bit more than usual, and I begin to wonder what I'd gotten myself into. I slow down to about 9 minutes per mile to save energy for the end. I'd already passed the lone water stop around 1.5 miles. And yes, I'm struggling to get the water out of my nose. I have to practice that whole running-while-drinking thing. My urge to walk some of these hills is strong, but I muscle forward.

Mile 3: Enough with the hills already: The hills keep coming, and they are wearing me down. I've picked up the pace after looking at my watch and seeing that I may just set my personal best time. I still feel strong, but my shins are a bit sore from running the hills. My practice runs on the hilly Independence Grove trails served me well, and I seem to be coping. I just wish the hills would stop. The runners are spread pretty far by this time, but I'm coming up fast to those in front of me.

The home stretch: It's all downhill from here: I'd memorized the streets coming up to the finish line, so I know when to pick up the pace. I'm back down to about 8:20 per mile and go even faster. I give it my all when I round the last corner at Algonquin road and thank the gods that's its a downhill stretch. I pass up the guy that passed me up around mile 2 and it felt good. My watch is telling me I'm due for a personal best, so I give it everything I have. I felt my foot sink into a small pot hole as I turned toward the finish line, and I thought I was going finally meet the concrete face-to-face, but I make it through in one piece. One of those young Whipper Snappers passed me at the last minute, but it's OK, I've made it. A personal best!

I went through quite a few emotions during this race that I'd never felt before. There were times when I ran with no one else around me, so my conscience would wander into that Dark Place. The Dark Place is where you begin to ask yourself why you're even doing this in the first place. Why am I putting myself through this pain? Why couldn't I've of gone fishing on this beautiful day instead of struggling through these hills?

The Dark Place is not where I like to be. I thought about my life up to this point, my successes, and most of all, my failures. I'd lost things that were important in my life, and thought about how much they meant to me. To me, right now, during this race, finishing meant the world. I was doing it for me and me alone, and I felt wonderful, and at peace.

In the end, I persevered. I met my demons face to face and I conquered all- even though I knew it wouldn't be the last I'd see of them.

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