This past weekend was intense. Awesome and intense. It was Lauren's 30th birthday, which officially makes us Mrs. Robinson and Ben Braddock -- except of course, she isn't married. I can make this joke until I turn 27 next month, and the gap is no longer four years. Her parents were both here. There was a party to plan. I had to move all my stuff for the third time since moving to Charlotte. We had out of town guests from Boston on Sunday. Somewhere in the midst of it all, I ran a 5k.
Despite a good, confidence-building stretch of running, I was not looking forward to the Blue Points 5K. There was much discussion over which way the course would be run. Would we go up Morehead or up Stonewall? Some believe that one way is easier than the other, but I am convinced they are equally as tough with a downhill on one side and a gradual climb for the last mile and a half. We decided to run it Morehead first when we previewed the course on Thursday's run. We were wrong. Shortly after the run, Meagan assured us the course would be going Stonewall first. I told her I didn't care if we ran it sideways. It took everything I had to go 16:30 last year.
Come Saturday morning, you couldn't have asked for better weather. The humidity was on a hiatus, and it was maybe 75 degrees. And there was nearly a full moon. Just before the gun went off (I say this like there is actually a gun. I don't remember the last time someone fired a gun to signal the start of a race in Charlotte), a nearly-pantless man came running out of the group screaming something and running toward the parking lot. He either screamed, "my chip!" or "my pants!" Either was a possibility. He had that look like he had forgetten to secure his chip. I've seen it before. Plus, how do you suddenly realize there is nothing covering your rear? I may never know the answer since the next time I saw him the race was over and he had pants on.
The race went out fast. It was clear right off the bat that it was a deep field. Richard Falcone, an ageless wonder, sprinted to the front with Jordan while I briefly tested the waters with a pack of Appalachian State and Winthrop runners. They were going out much faster than I felt comfortable with, and I settled right where I belonged with Brian and Paul. Brian was on a mission. As we rolled down Stonewall, he opened up a decent gap on Paul and me. We reeled him in and he'd put down a surge. I'd pull along next to him, and there was a another surge. The first mile was an actual race. 5:01.
Paul and I finally broke lose from Brian at about a mile and a quarter, turning onto Morehead. After we pulled off, neither of us saw another runner. I wanted to stay with Paul as long as I could because I knew as soon as he got a couple steps ahead of me, I'd drop back and mentally check out. I could tell he wanted to break away, but I stayed strong. Ultimately, it was good for both of us. 5:15. The climb had started.
We were still side-by-side as we climbed the little bridge next to the Dowd YMCA where Megan and Erica gave a much needed cheer. Coming down the other side and crossing over 277, I decided to take a risk. I put about five meters on Paul as we turned onto Mint Street. With the finish line in site and a larger than normal crowd cheering, I knew I'd have to hold on hard to keep Paul from benefiting from the momentum and taking back his spot. The advantage goes to the chaser in these situations. And this wasn't just any chaser, it was Paul who is a darn strong runner. So yeah, he got me. Just before we crossed the line, Paul went by crossing in 16:13 with me in 16:15. But I was far from disappointed. It was 15 seconds faster than last year, and only 8 seconds slower than China Grove which is a much faster course. It also broke a mini-streak of subpar performances. Of course, you never run the perfect race. I wish I could have outkicked Paul, but in the grand scheme of things to be disappointed in, it's pretty minor.
Jordan easily held off a hard-charging crowd of kids to win. Meagan won on the women's side, and Billy Shue broke 17:00 allowing him to date women. After the race, the talk was about how fast everyone is going to run at Greekfest. I'm bummed I won't be there, but I think I'd rather be soaking up the sun in the Bahamas. I'm going to give the 10K a shot on August 21st, and maybe look for one last 5K to bust somewhere before mid-September.