But before this 5K race even started I was already in 4th place. There were 3 very intense and fast looking guys owning the start line. The rest of pack, including me, was standing 5 feet behind them, afraid to even get close. One of these guys even had a tattoo on his leg of a person running, and that's pretty serious.
So I gave up hope in placing in the race and instead focused on going under 19 minutes for the first time in my life. Because according to the IAAF, that would be Fast.
They counted down the start and we were off, starting up a slight incline on a residential street. I was almost trampled by several more guys who blew past me, but I resisted following them and stuck with a more methodical pace.
I was really surprised as one by one, almost everyone in front of me slowed down and dropped back, leaving me in second place after the first mile. There was only the guy in the white shirt left, about 100 yards ahead, looking strong. After the halfway turn around, I saw Shannon leading the women, while still taking pictures with her camera and cheering me on.
At mile 2, the guy in the white shirt slowed down and fell back too, leaving only the guy on a bike leading the way. The last mile was slightly downhill and I tried to move my feet as fast as they would go, letting gravity do the work. I still did not believe I would actually win, and expected the guy with the tattoo to come zooming past at any moment.
The bike pacer was collecting the signs which marked the course, and several times I ran by him, left with no direction on where to go. "Um? Straight?", I asked trying not to sound desperate.
"Yeah straight. Don't worry, I got ya".
After a turn, the finish line and clock was in sight, and I sprinted down the hill finishing in 18:47.
I went back up the street to cheer on Shannon who amazingly won the womens race. I gave her a kiss after she finished, which made me self conscious and very queasy. The idea of an engaged couple winning the race and kissing at the finish line was so nauseatingly sappy that I fully expected everyone to start pelting us with water bottles. We certainly deserved that, but instead everyone was quite gracious and congratulatory.
I was excited that I had officially run a fast 5K, until I went to the IAAF website and saw that they had updated the chart for this year, redefining the word fast:
|2009 IAAF Men's 5K performance ranking|
|19:00 and above||Average guy|
|18:00 - 18:59||Insecure men trying to pump up their ego in the local non-competitive 5K|
|17:00 - 17:59||Fast|
|16:00 - 16:59||Insufferable skinny cross country team teenagers|
|15:00 - 15:59||Guys who work at the shoe store|
|14:00 - 14:59||Guy at the shoe store named Bobby who sold me my|
"Asics Gel Pillow Plodders with roll bar and built in iPod."
|13:00 - 13:59||Targets of doping investigation|
|13:00 and below||East Africans who grew up without shoes|
Rats. Still not fast.