WX: 37 degrees, sunny and 10 mph wind
I raced the JINGLE ALL THE WAY 10K today in Washington DC. Chris Bain, Patrick Reaves and I arrived at the starting line, in the pre-dawn darkness, around 6:45. We were chilled to the bone and anxiously awaited the sun rise in the eastern horizon. Eventually, as sure as the sun rises...the…sun…rose. Our team eventually emerged from their cars and we all got out for an easy 2 mile warm-up. I felt very good on the run and wondered if I’d have a good day. My plan had been to run 5:10-11 pace (intended pace for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April) for at least 4 miles and then turn it on, if I could, for the last 2 miles. Regardless, of what happened, I told Reaves I wasn’t going out faster than 5:10.
The “GO” was given and I quickly tucked behind a string of runners. Bert Rodriguez (second in pict above) and John Butler (in black...in town visiting?) raced to the front. Wow, they seemed to be moving damn fast. I relaxed and sat back. Bert had run 31:14 about a month ago so I knew he was in shape. I had no idea who the other guy (Butler) was but decided to trail. Wilson Komen (in Saucony red), who ran a 2:20 marathon earlier this fall, tucked in behind Bert and Butler. Reaves and I, running side by side, trailed. After about a half mile I began to look around and see where people were. Bert, Butler and Wilson had already gapped Reaves and I by a few seconds or so, but I was content to let them go. Soon thereafter, Aaron Church rolled up alongside and said “let me do some of the work”. I shrugged my shoulders. Might as well draft off him as we pushed our way into the 10 mph headwind. I was pretty cold during the first mile but knew I’d warm up. We hit the mile in 5:10. SLAMDUNK! Right on schedule! The trio ahead of us must have hit the mile in 5:05. Eventually, our trio began to close the gap. I took my hand and pointed towards the pack ahead of us in a “charge” like motion. Right now, it was Reaves, Church and me versus Wilson, Butler and Bert. They were the enemy. They were ahead and we were behind. It was us versus them. We were working together and they were working together. But now, it was time to mix it up. Through a series of little surges the three of us caught the three in front of us. Bert did a double take and then said “welcome to the party”. I replied something witty like “sorry I’m late”. Together the six of us hit mile 2 in 10:18 (5:08) and we soon rounded the bend and had the wind on our backs. For a brief moment I noticed the blazing sun in the sky above the tip of Haines Point. It was the first time I felt warm since the warm-up. The race seemed to heat up and I did my best to do battle and hang with the pack. We hit mile 3 in 15:24 (5:06) and I realized we were getting faster and faster. Bert is a 1:52 800m man and Wilson was once the best runner in all of Washington. He’s run 47:55 for 10 miles and 2:17 for 26.2. He was the real deal. I knew if I had ANY chance of getting the “W” I’d need to make my move when we turned back on the home stretch (a little over 2 miles left in the race). . For now, I would sit and wait. EDITOR’S NOTE – THE IDEA OF WINNING THIS RACE WAS VERY FAR FETCHED. HOWEVER, I LIKE TO THINK THERE IS ALWAYS A SLIGHT CHANCE FOR THE UNEXPECTED. I HAVE TO THINK THIS WAY. IT’S WHAT GETS ME OUT OF BED EACH DAY. Reaves fell back and our pack of 6 was now 5. The four of us hit 5k in 15:56 with Church trailing by about a second. I hoped we would drop him and splinter down to a 4-man pack. I was getting antsy, though I wished teammate Reaves was still by my side. As we battled back towards the finish line we again pushed our way into a headwind. I would make my move soon to see what might happen…however, it seemed as if Bert had a move to make of his own. In the blink of an eye, Bert surged ahead. Butler followed. Wilson followed…and I followed too. I might lose Bert and Butler, but I wouldn’t lose Wilson. As we turned onto the home stretch (where I had planned to make my move) I found myself battling stride for stride with the great Wilson Komen. The tall, lanky Kenyan lumbered along and would surge every time I came up along his side. I thought we were going to kill each other running so hard with so much time left in the race. But, we had to push. We were being gapped by Bert and Butler. Damnit; if there was a time to race, that time was now! Fight! Time to fight. Damnit fight! I began to run so hard I felt as if I’d vomit. This has happened to me a few times during the past year. I think it means I am running on my red line. Wilson was running my legs out from under me and I didn’t even know it. I slowed, involuntarily, as to not throw up on the street. Then I slowed voluntarily as I was beginning to labor pretty badly. Gold and silver were out, but I would still fight for the bronze. I hit mile 4 in 20:30 (5:06) but felt as if I were grinding to a halt. “Relax”, I told myself, “Relax until the 5 mile mark and then attack. Let Wilson go. Hold back and then attack.” I would wait.
I didn’t hear the footsteps…but I saw the shadow. At first all I saw a head, but the head turned into shoulders and then a torso. Damn it, there was someone else! Someone was walking me down. Aaron Church slowly crept up and came alongside my left shoulder. This time he wasn’t talking. I hung with Church and together we closed the gap on Wilson. But, again, I began to red line. And again, I eased back. Don’t puke or it’s over. I hit mile 5 in 25:38 (5:08 – slowest mile since mile 2) and began to drive to the finish. I began to rally but again fell back. I kept wanting to surge my way home, but the pace was taking its toll. I decided to wait until the bridge. The bridge connects East Potomac Park to West Potomac Park and sits roughly 1000 meters from the finish line. I would sprint from the bridge to the finish and if I died, so be it. I would die on the homestretch or kick like “Lightning” Bolt. It was time to stop being a coward. When I hit the bridge I began to move after Church and Wilson. Was it too late? Could I catch them? I put my head down and hammered away…but it was not to be. I was whipped. They had licked me good.
I ended up coming in 5th and running 31:46 (5:06 last mile). I was very happy with my time and my effort. My goal had been 5:10 miles and I had accomplished that. I ran 15:56 for my first 5k and then negative split a 15:50. I felt pretty awful in the last 2 miles but still managed to run a faster pace than the previous 4 miles. I wish I could have fought harder in the last mile and a half, but I didn’t have much more left in my tanks. It would have been a great day to come on top of local aces Church and Wilson, but the day was not mine. Most importantly, it felt good to rattle my saber again and get out and compete. This is what racing is all about. It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback and pick apart what you did wrong but it’s another to get out there and get some real time experience. In my last 2 years racing competitively, I’ve come to respect all my competitors. Notwithstanding is Bert Rodriguez. For a time, Bert and I battled back and forth during races, but now he’s reached a new level. The only thing to do now is to get faster and fight him again. And I will. I predict big things this spring; my best days are ahead. At the end of the day, the goal is for everyone to get faster. Training partner Patrick Reaves PR’d today and that makes my day even better.
I cooled down 5 miles and then went home and soaked my legs in my homemade ice bath. The water was so cold that the toes on my left foot were crying. I could not feel my legs and had to “bunny hop” my way from my balcony to my bathroom/shower. In the afternoon I went to the zoo and walked for 90 minutes in between eating greasy foods. Then I had a beer.
Pictures Courtesy of Robert JARRIN
Place Div/Tot Num Name Age Hometown Gun T Net T Pace 5k
1 1/134 3574 John Butler 24 SYRACUSE NY 31:04 31:03 5:00 15:56
2 1/297 34 Bert Rodriguez 29 ARLINGTON VA 31:13 31:13 5:02 15:56
3 1/257 36 Aaron Church 33 SOUTH RIDING VA 31:36 31:36 5:06 15:57
4 2/257 33 Wilson Komen 30 WASHINGTON DC 31:42 31:41 5:06 15:56
5 2/297 8 Jake Klim 28 N BETHESDA MD 31:46 31:46 5:07 15:56
6 1/232 32 Ray Pugsley 39 POTOMAC FALLS VA 31:54 31:54 5:08 16:00
7 2/134 16 Patrick Reaves 24 SILVER SPRING MD 32:18 32:18 5:12 16:03
8 3/134 31 Justin Fritzius 24 PURCELLVILLE VA 32:41 32:40 5:16 16:20
9 4/134 3825 Greg Lane 22 ARLINGTON VA 33:06 33:05 5:20 17:15
10 5/134 30 Christopher Sheaffer 24 PURCELLVILLE VA 33:18 33:18 5:22 16:40
11 3/297 12 Billy Askey 25 ARLINGTON VA 33:25 33:24 5:23 16:43
12 1/143 4458 Andres Wright 42 FREDERICK MD 33:32 33:30 5:24 16:47
13 3/257 3768 David O'Hara 32 WASHINGTON DC 33:44 33:43 5:26 16:48
14 6/134 6 Patrick Hughes 22 WASHINGTON DC 33:48 33:47 5:27 16:54
15 4/297 14 Allen Carr 25 WASHINGTON DC 33:55 33:53 5:28 17:10
16 1/108 39 Mark Stickley 46 WINCHESTER VA 34:02 34:01 5:29 16:59
17 2/232 2126 Pekka Stenholm 36 COLUMBIA MD 34:05 34:04 5:29 16:55
18 3/232 38 Eric Makovsky 35 WASHINGTON DC 34:10 34:10 5:30 17:00
19 4/257 3 Christopher Bain 31 ROCKVILLE MD 34:12 34:11 5:30 17:24
20 5/297 3430 Chris Sloane 25 N POTOMAC MD 34:16 34:16 5:31 17:20
21 5/257 3389 Steven Moore 30 BETHESDA MD 35:18 34:30 5:33 17:54
22 7/134 3921 Jimmy Daly 22 WASHINGTON DC 34:46 34:46 5:36 17:01
23 6/297 10 Nathan Timm 28 MONTGOMERY VILL MD 34:51 34:50 5:37 17:12
24 7/297 3570 Rodee Schneider 27 WASHINGTON DC 35:07 35:03 5:39 17:59
25 6/257 3134 Ken Walker 30 BETHESDA MD 35:13 35:11 5:40 17:42
26 8/134 5 Patrick Murphy 24 WASHINGTON DC 35:33 35:33 5:44 17:33
27 2/143 2529 Bill Bray 43 FAIRFAX VA 35:42 35:41 5:45 17:58
28 1/42 4075 Michael Kerrigan 17 FAIRFAX VA 36:07 36:06 5:49 17:52
29 9/134 2821 Justin Withoff 22 ORONO MN 36:12 36:09 5:49 18:03
30 10/134 53 Joe Devine 21 WASHINGTON DC 36:09 36:09 5:50 18:13