On Tuesday night I ran the 4th annual Strike Out ALS 5K put on by the Les Turner foundation. This was my second year running the event. I had a lot of high hopes after last year's event since it was one of the more memorable events of my first year running. As I did last year I gathered some friends - including the usuals of Chris and Jennifer - as well as a couple others to raise money for the Les Turner Foundation. One of the reason I chose this group as a fundraiser was because the cause is a bit closer to the heart. I lost my uncle to ALS in November of 2011 and so I decided to run the race and raise the money in his memory. I've seen what this awful disease can do to someone so anyone I can help others I will.
On to this year's event - Me and Chris bumped into each other on the way to the race. We only live 2 blocks apart so not completely random, but still a chance encounter. We also left super early since this is our first time dealing with the red line re-route. Absolutely everything timed out perfectly and we wound up at the race site an hour early. We found a nice shaded spot and chilled out while waiting for others. Eventually Jennifer and Courtney showed up and saved me and Chris from being talked to death by some random guy. A little later I spotted some fellow bloggers and went over to say hi and get our group photo. So many bloggers to mention - Erin, Emily, Zenaida, Kelsey, and Lindsay.
After a few announcements everyone lined up to start the race. There were a few pacing flags set up to organize the speedier runners. No one wanted to line up front. Everyone stayed behind the 7 min pace flags. I had to squeeze my way closer to the front of the group since people were talking about taking it easy. Who lines up in the 7 min group if they are taking it easy? Soon the race was underway and we were off. I didn't hold back like many others did in the grueling heat. I told myself this was going to take less than 25 minutes, just deal with it and see what happens. I actually had a great start to the race... I had good form and was running pretty solidly and up near the front of the pack even. After a half mile in I realized I needed to slow down some. A mile in the heat started to get to me. After the race I looked at the results from my Garmin and realized why I was near the front of the pack and then faded... I ran the first minute at a sub 6 minute pace which is pretty crazy for me. I finished the first mile in 6:53 which I'm quite proud of given the weather conditions.
Mile 2 was a lot tougher. My pace slowed tremendously. You know its a rough one when you swing wide just to run near a wall that is blocking some of the direct sunlight from hitting you. This was the first time I've ever gotten water during a 5K and I even had to walk through the station to make sure I got all the water down. I wasn't the only one stopping. Shortly after the water station the coursed turned away from my precious sun blocking wall and out into the wide open spaces of the rest of the parking lot where we zigged and zagged. Some of the course here was poorly marked and the runners started playing follow the leader and trying to follow directions. We missed a turn somewhere in the parking lot and wound up doing some weird out and back thing rather than gentle turns. Somewhere in the parking lot I hit mile 2 and this one came in at 7:53. At about mile 2.5 or so we entered the stadium which felt a ton cooler compared to the outside. I started to catch my breath and speed up again. Next thing I knew the runners ahead of me were turning down a tunnel so I followed and we wound up on the field - in the outfield, half a lap early. We were supposed to come out a tunnel near home plate. It looks like a big group of the "speedier" runners all did the same mistake before they sent someone to direct people not to run down the tunnel. This was a little frustrating for me since I was hoping for a good outcome from the race. I knew my PR was good enough to place when compared to last year's field of runners. I knew I wasn't going to run a PR in the 90 degree heat, but figured most the runners would still be slowed down just like me.
I crossed the finish line in 20:34, but that is for about 2.75 miles by my estimates. I was on pace to run between 23:00 and 23:30 which would still rank among my fastest 5K times. Who knows how well I would of done had I ran the full race since I was just starting to speed back up when we hit the field.
After the race a bunch of the runners realized what had happened and no one knew what it meant for us. There wasn't any midway checkpoint so even though we took an accidental shortcut the times counted. I just gathered my things from gear check and headed to the stands to watch for my friends to finish. One by one they finally came - out the correct tunnel. Before leaving I found the computer to check my results. It said I finished in 24th place. I didn't know whether or not to believe this at the time. Today the official results were sent out and I did indeed finish in 24th place out of 567 runners. There is a nice, nearly 3 minute gap between 28th and 29th place where they fixed the shortcut. I no longer felt like being in 24th place was cheap or that I cheated since I would have likely finished around the same place had all the runners did the full course. If anything I might have passed a couple more runners since the 5 runners before me were within 5 seconds.
When all is said and done it was all for a good cause. Its not like we're out there running for gold medals. Ok I like to pretend I am sometimes, but that's just some personal motivation. Its a great event and I love being able to sit in the stands and watch the rest of the runners finish and watch the all star game on the jumbotron. I didn't get anything from the concession stand this year. It was just too hot to eat, plus I learned that my post race stomach does not like hot dogs last year.