Warming up before the race I simply asked God to help me put my hope in Him as he commands in Isaiah 40: "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." The race was to honor the fight against ALS and raise money for local church missions, so I was pleased to have a prayer said before the start. We were all standing there for about ten minutes as they made some speaches about ALS and said the mentioned prayer. I felt as many eyes were checking out the big cross on my back and I felt as if God was holding me there at the start like a lamp on a stand. "Bring it on God, I want to glorify your name in this race."
The course looked to be a great one, going uphill for the first 3.5ish miles and then super flat for 6 miles, and finally a big downhill run to the finish of the loop. The weather was also looking much more promising for running fast, race time temperature was around 49 degrees and there was just a light breeze... Perfect!
Mike and I typically run pretty similar in workouts, so the plan was to take off together and then see how things went after we ran through the first few miles but, when the gun went off, it wasn't long before I realized that today might be a special day and I should just trust God to see where he might take me in this run...
Two guys jumped out to an early big lead, then a couple of stragglers, and finally me. One of those stragglers just happened to be a 12 year old named Jack. Here was a young kid named Jack who ran this race, I remember him because he must have thought I looked fast in my yellow FCA Endurance singlet because he came over and talked to me at the starting line and compared me to ultramarathon legend Scott Jurek... that'd be something to run like that guy... anyway, Jack ran supererb for a 12 year old. I passed Jack on the 2nd mile and we chatted about the two guys leading the race... "Do you think those guys are for real?" I said. "I don't know, they look pretty old" Jack responded. Trying not to laugh too hard I replied, "Well, I guess I better go and find out..." and with that I felt the competitive juices start firing and I started reeling in the early leaders up the first uphill miles of the race.
I kept in pursuit of the two at the front until I caught them at the 3 mile mark. I was running easily up the hill so I decided to keep on the gas over the top. We came through the 3 mile mark in 21:08 and I hadn't even started feeling like I was working yet, so I pushed on right past the leaders and ran a 6:46 mile to finish the uphill and level out to the 4 mile mark. At this point, one of the runners who had been leading, named Brandon, had joined me and we chatted about the weather and such and powered to the 5 mile mark at 34:37, or a 6:42 mile for those keeping track. When I looked at my watch I couldn't really believe what I was seeing, I had no idea I was ready to run these kind of times, so I anticipated a break-down later on but kept pushing on with Brandon because I really wasn't redlined and I had no reason to slow down at the moment.
After the 5 mile mark, Brandon and I really dropped the hammer and rattled off the next few miles in 6:25, 6:35, and 6:32. After the 8 mile mark, I was thinking about the win so I backed off the pace a bit to see what Brandon would do, to my surprise he slowed down too so I knew he was hurting or he would have kept going; we ran the 9th mile in 6:43. I couldn't believe what was happening, yet I still felt in control. I was sitting in the lead and it appeared that my competition was starting to feel the pressure so right after the 9th mile aid station I noticed Brandon dropped back to take in fuel and I took off. The 10 mile had a significant drop so I opened up and ran a 6:13 mile. By now I had a decent lead but hadn't cracked Brandon so I kept on the gas and ran a 6:11 for mile 11.
Just when I thought I might have had the win locked up when right after the 11th mile aid station Brandon came back on me and we battled until mile 12 where he pulled away. I couldn't respond to his surge and even though I finished the last 2.1 miles at 6:20/mile pace Brandon went home with the win. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't pull out the win, but who can complain about a 12 minute PR (1:26:38) and second place overall. Mike finished with a good race himself, just breaking 1:34 at 1:33:59 and 5th overall. Oh, and Mike's Dad Richard busted out a 15 second PR as well, coming in around 1:59 and change.
Following the race I met up with Michelle who had brought the kids out and I chased Myles around on the playground while Kara ate her lunch. It seemed like God was giving me a great big bear hug and a high five for a race well run. I hope that I have that feeling again sometime soon because it is truly addicting. I felt content that I had regained at least part of the speed I once had but on with my God backing me up this time. It is a moment worth remembering, so I'm glad my face shows the joy in the following picture.
(Myles always seems to look way cooler in these things than I do so I let him do the honors and receive my second place medal.)
Next up, the Sawtooth Relay with the Galena Summit scheduled to be tackled. Brother-in-law and best friend Chris Stoffer will be coming out from Ohio, Mike will be there, and Joe Terrazas from Skyview where I work. It should be a great time with lots more good scenery and suffering...