It was a beautiful day for the Shriners Summer Solstice 8k, which benefits the Shriners Hospital for Children here in Sacramento. My PR for this distance is 37:52, but I’m not in that kind of shape yet. I just wanted to beat last year’s time of 40:54, run under very hot conditions.
Before the race we had the national anthem and a sun dance performed by a troupe dressed as Aztecs. Afterward, the bottom 10 percent of the finishers had their still-beating hearts cut from their bodies and thrown down the steps of the parking garage. OK, there really wasn’t any human sacrifice, but there must be some motivation because the fastest runners in the area always turn out for this one.
There was no timing mat at the start, which meant I lost a few seconds, but I paced it perfectly.
After the first two miles, I found myself steadily passing other runners and feeling better as I went along. I hit the four-mile mark with a cumulative time of 32:33, which meant I would easily beat last year’s time. I thought to myself, “Hmmm, a 7:26 would bring me in under 40 minutes.”
I should have discarded that thought immediately, but what the hell. I started pushing the pace, and passing people in the last mile is really a motivator to keep pushing. There was a “400 meters to go” sign and it made me think of my track workouts so I started turning it over as fast as I could. I passed 7 or 8 runners in that last quarter-mile.
I could see the clock ticking down but I came up short. My last mile was a 7:35, giving me an unofficial finish of 40:08.
The real appeal of this 8k is the post-race strawberry pancakes. Yum!
So I’ve made pretty good progress in the last four weeks, but I still have a way to go to reach my best times. I’ve got a 15k race two weeks from today. Anything under 1:20 would be acceptable, but I’d really like a sub 1:17, which would put me right on my target marathon pace.