Sunday, November 26, 2006

Going Short
With a free Sunday I got up early, looked outside, saw no rain, and drove down to Oakland to run a race. It was November's Fourth Sunday Race by the good folks who call themselves the Lake Merritt Joggers and Striders. It's 5K around the lake, and you can do it once, twice or three times. (Whatever you choose, the tab is three bucks for members, four for non-members.)

Two years ago on the Sunday after Thanksgiving I went for three laps -- the 15K. That was great fun, but not having run seriously since the Labor Day 10K in Davis, cranking nearly 10 miles hard today wasn't even a consideration. And I wasn't interested in doing a third 10K this year, and a mediocre one at that. So 5K it was.

What to say? I'm accustomed to reporting on the longer stuff, bringing you, dear reader, along on marathon and half-iron triathlon journeys and sifting through the mundane of self-inflicted endurance sport agony in search of something, anything, memorable or at least not to embarrassing.

But 5K, well, heck, it was done in 20 minutes and 21 seconds – and should have been done quicker. Here's the way I see it: I've run 10K at a 6:41 pace. Busting 20 minutes in the 5K would require a 6:26 pace.

I had it going over the first mile, keeping the leader, a long-legged kid with floppy black hair, within eyeshot and staying on the heels of a young woman in red shorts. First mile: about 6:18. During the second mile I passed the woman, who stayed close behind me, and I hit the next marker around 12:42. All I had to do was run the final 1.1 miles at a 6:37 pace. And if my legs and bowels both weren't tying into knots, I might have. The woman in red shorts passed me, as did a guy. The long-legged kid with floppy black hair was way out front of us all, and that left me fourth among 49 runners.

I wanted to hang around to see other folks finish, but the skies were getting heavier and heavier, and there were other obligations on my "free" Sunday. So off I went, as always feeling good for having raced.