I still had the clock and the timing equipment from the Shamrock 5K the previous weekend (last Sunday) so I needed to be early to the Hobble then Gobble 5 Mile race. Well, since I was going to be on site and I did not have to time the event I decided to compete. This is a tough 5 mile out and back in a hilly area of town (Lake Serene).
Once again, I had not really prepared for this race. There was no taper and I have not had an off day since the drive up to the Cheaha KOM bike event (12 days of training – 11 running days and 1 biking). Since we had gotten off work early on Wednesday (Thanksgiving Eve) I went for a short bike ride with a couple of friends. It was a little over 20 miles but I did do a couple of short, hard intense efforts. One such effort was the hill out of Sumrall. I have made this a segment on Strava. If you ride the trace you should upload your Garmin files to Strava and try to knock me off the KOM for the Sumrall hill – I’m on top right now but it should not be too difficult to knock me down a rung or two. (http://app.strava.com/rides/2451038#41460617) .
Back to the Hobble then Gobble. It was a cold morning here in South Mississippi. When I arrive at Lake Serene the temperature was in the low 40’s. An hour later at the race start the temperature had risen to about 50 (later it would be in the 70’s – nice winters here in Mississippi). In fact, I am writing this race report on my back porch grilling some chicken on the grill, having an adult beverage and wearing short sleeves and shorts.
The Hobble then Gobble is a big race around here. It brings out a lot of strong runners. It is also hilly and goes across two spillways – the water is ankle deep. You are going to get wet on this course.
Start of the race – look at that lead already.
Having raced the 5k 5 days ago I knew that I needed to better pace myself. I did not want to go out too fast this time. I set my sights on running a 6:20 pace. This would have been achievable with an off day the leading up to the race or on a flat course. Instead I noticed that as we ran across the levy there was a stiff breeze in our faces. My pace was already slipping to a 6:30. As we reached the first spillway I saw the runners up ahead splashing through. There is a wooden bridge to the side and a couple of people in front of me ran off course to use the bridge. I followed suit. I did not mind the extra 2 or 3 seconds for dry feet for a couple of miles. At mile one I would guess that I was in 10th place. Not a great showing at this point but considering the big guns that can show up I just ran my own race. Between miles 1 and 2 I had moved up a couple of places but the leaders were already out of sight.
I was running behind Daniel McK. He is a very nice kid that shows up at almost every race. At the 5K last week I passed him half way through but he re-passed me and made it stick with a mile to go. He has gotten fast. I trailed him this entire race.
There was no choice but to get wet in the second spillway. Fortunately, it was only a few inches deep. I ran straight through it with no effort to limit the wetness. I was running hard. At this point I would not notice something as insignificant as wet feet. As I neared the turnaround I could see that I was locked into 4th place. Now I just had to keep pace. I needed to keep the intensity at a rolling boil. I kept the effort high and focused.
I never looked behind me. You must never look back! If someone is close then they will know you are on the edge and it will encourage them. If no one is in sight then you will slow down. Never look back! (I guess you can look back if you are going to be the overall winner but even then you are probably just asking for trouble.)
I crossed the second spillway again and continued to run hard. I knew that I was in a solid fourth place. When I started the race I had a time goal of sub-32. With the slow starting mile and the hills this was going to prove difficult. I turned on to the home stretch with a mile to go. I was running full bore. When I got to the final spillway crossing I thought about taking the bridge again but it was full of walkers – there is also a 2 mile walk associated with the Hobble then Gobble. Through the water I went. An SUV was approaching. I threw a quick hand in the air and told them to stop. I certainly did not want to be splashed as I made the water crossing. They stopped in their tracks. I bounded through the water. My feet and shoes were now completely soaked but the end was near. I increased my effort. I would fight hard this last ¾ of a mile. I rounded the last turn and saw the clock in the distance, it read 31:4X. I sucked it up and dug deep. I trucked out that last two hundred yards. When I hit the line I heard Charles, who was timing the race yell “31:59!”
Sprinting for the finish.
Mission accomplished. I finished the race with an average pace of 6:24. That is not far off my 5 mile tempo pace but it is a much more challenging course than the trace.
First and second place finished minutes ahead . (Chad M., a kid who runs at university ran sub-28 and Terry L. ran sub-30). Daniel McK finished a couple of hundred yards ahead of me in the 31’s. I was proud of the effort. It was a good race for me.
I won my age group, I think my stache got second (http://www.movember.com). My friend Jason was close behind.
The bad news is I am a little slow on my paces. The good news is I have 3 ½ months to get faster for my A-race marathon!