I went into the race hoping to do well, but not really having any idea of what to expect. I wanted to try to go for 5:15 pace, but I didn't know if my legs would be fresh enough for it or if I would be able to hold that pace long enough. I knew I could run that pace for a 5k, but this was almost an extra mile longer. I let myself sleep in some and got up a few minutes before 7:00. Usually I try to get up 2 hrs before a race, but I had just really been exhausted and decided I could sleep in - if you call 7:00 sleeping in. I wasn't feeling particularly fast on my warmup. I ran from my house over to the start/finish area to see exactly where the start line and finish line was. It's about 3/4 of a mile from my house to that point so I jogged over and then ran the first part of the course and looped back around to my house. This was a great race since I could use the restroom at my house instead of having to stand in line at the port-a-potties. After my warmup I stretched my calves and hamstrings for a while and decided to go with my new asics hyperspeed3 flats which I'd never worn before. I figured they would probably give me a little more cushioning and be better for my legs than my lightweight adidas flats. I put them on, changed into my singlet and headed back to the park about 12 minutes before the start of the race. As I was jogging over I saw my neighbor Matt from two houses down and he told me to go out and win the race so I told him I'd see what I could do. I got to the starting area while they were singing the Star Spangled Banner. When they finished I went up to the line and looked around to scope out the competition. I didn't recognize anybody that I knew was definitely faster than me and so I started to think that I might have a chance at winning the race. I didn't want to get too overconfident and I was just waiting to see somebody quick run over to the starting line a minute before the gun went off. Nobody else showed up at the line and as I looked around there were only two people up near the front that I didn't recognize that I thought might have a chance at winning. One of the guys was a high school age looking asian guy and the other was a guy who looked like he was in his upper 30's.
When the gun went off, a guy with an iPod and headphones and fairly long shorts took off in the lead. I didn't worry about him too much because I was pretty certain nobody wearing an iPod was going to beat me. The asian guy took off on his heels and the other guy who I thought might give me some competition was shoulder to shoulder with me. The guy with the headphones kept up a sub-5:30 pace for about half a mile and then I decided to take the lead. The asian guy had dropped off 1/3 of a mile in and the other guy was close, but a little behind me. Once I took the lead I was fairly confident that I was going to win the race unless I got injured or something happened that would make me drop off the pace. The race basically turned into a time trial at that point and I just followed the pace truck that was leading the race. The first mile marker was set up short of a mile and I passed it at about 4:55, but my Garmin told me I hit mile 1 in 5:15. I really liked the course as it wound through some of the neighborhoods and went back down to Memorial Dr. There are some multi-million dollar homes along the course, but I didn't really have any time to take in the scenery. Once I got down to Memorial Dr they had 1-1/2 lanes blocked off to run in and I cruised towards the park. My Garmin said I hit 5:15 for my second mile as well, but I don't remember what the time on the clock said at mile 2. It was fun running along the road next to the trail as a bunch of people who were out for their Saturday morning run would cheer me on when I went by. There was a small dip where Memorial Dr dips down and then comes back up, but I didn't even notice it. Somewhere in this mile I was trying to change screens on my Garmin but I hit the wrong button and somehow got into a setup mode and lost my splits for the last couple of miles. I remember seeing 15:37 on the clock at the mile 3 marker, but I don't remember if that was before I got to the marker or if it is when I actually passed it. When I turned right onto the road that goes around the loop I had about a mile to go and I couldn't see the 2nd place guy behind me when I turned. I was just going for time at this point and trying to get as close to 21:00 as possible. I've run the park so many times, I know exactly where the qtr mile markers are even though I was running on the road and couldn't see them. I was just trying to focus on a qtr at a time and not slow down. I got to the lone port-a-potty and knew I had about 3/4 to go. I kept on pushing and passed the tree that was at 1/2 mile to go. I tried to pick up the pace at this point, but I don't know if I sped up at all. When I got to 1/4 to go, I just gave it all I had left and kicked it in. I guess I should have given it a little more because if I'd run 1/10th of a second faster I would have broken 21:00. Oh well. 21:00.0 is a pretty cool time and it's easy to figure out my average pace. That's a 4 mile PR for me. I don't think I've ever run a 4 mile race before, but I enjoyed the distance. I think this is the first race that I have won since I've been in college. I'm excited about the shape I'm in and I hope I can find a good half marathon somewhere this year because I think I'm in shape to have a chance at breaking 1:15 and I'd love to do that.
My neighbor saw me finish and told me that he had just been joking about the "win the race" comment and he didn't know that I was that fast. I told him that I was just doing what he had told me to do. Maybe I should have him come out to every race I run. It had been quite a while since I'd run a regular race and i was glad to get out there and get a good race under my belt. I'm starting to taper for Boston this week and I'll definitely enjoy starting to ease up on the mileage a bit. It was a great race setup and a lot of fun and they had a great post-race party. I happened to run into a couple that had run on my college cross country team my freshman year when they were both seniors. They live in Houston now and ran the race and heard my name announced as the winner and recognized it and came over and talked to me. They had one booth giving away tons of fruit so I got a nice fresh pineapple to take home as my victory trophy.