Failure is both a beginning and an end. A couple weeks ago when I attempted my first Florida mountain bike race and then crashed during the first lap, I was deeply disappointed. However, my motivation on that day was fuzzy at best. Two weeks later I took part in my first ever 5k running race but this time my motivation was crystal clear - I was not going to fail again.
We arrived at the Ann Dever park in Englewood, Florida at the crack of dawn. The dark pavilion was humming with early morning chatter as runners confirmed their registrations, accepted their goody bags, pinned numbers to their shirts and zip tied electronic tags to their shoes.
The Howl at the Moon 5k was sponsored by the Bocca Lupo grill in Port Charlotte and was coordinated by the Zoomers Running club. The Zoomers did a fantastic job organizing the event. There was a friendly and relaxed group start, a well marked race course plus helpful volunteers along the way. A brightly colored finish line was set in place complete with timing clock and Red Cross first aid station.
227 Runners of every age and fitness level, some dressed up in Halloween costumes, completed the race all in under one hour's time. The overall winner was Heather Butcher (40) who outpaced everyone with a time of 19:08. The men's overall winner was 20 year old Danny Duncan who aced it in 19:27. The youngest runner was 6 year old Zachary Simmons who completed the race in 39:17 and the oldest was 75 year old Bill Welch who paced it well at 40:56.
The complete list of results can be found on the Zoomers website.
How did I do? Not bad at all. The relaxed pace at the start was a perfect warm-up especially since my right foot was still hurting from a running session I had the week before. I stayed in a tight middle pack group for the first mile but by then my foot pain had gone away and my breathing settled in. At that point I started to lift the pace and passed about ten people.
Shortly after passing the 1.5 mile mark, I hit the wall. My body reminded me that I was not properly trained up for this distance. I got a stitch in my side and my breathing became labored as I slowed down. This is where the mind games began. I had been reading a book by Triathlon Champion Chris McCormack who said you have to take control of your thinking in times of suffering so that is what I did. I kept repeating to myself the mantra, "Don't stop, just keep moving. You didn't finish the mountain bike race so you MUST finish this race."
The mantra worked. I accepted a cup of water from the volunteers, took two sloppy sips and then poured the rest down the back of my neck. Most importantly I kept moving. My pace was slow but I was pulling it off. Closer to the finish I relaxed my stance a little and tried to pick up my knees but my body was already working at maximum capacity. It wouldn't go any faster.
In no time at the I could see the finish line, I controlled my breathing as best I could while trying desperately not to throw up. I finished the race in 30:45 taking 6th in my age group and 107th overall. I couldn't have been happier.
My lovely wife Terri was there supporting me and taking pictures and videos.
You can see all of her photos at this link: