For those that want the numbers: 20.09K (12.48-miles) in 1:23:32 @ 6:41/m pace. #1 Male Masters #1 M40-44 Age Group #6 Overall Finisher
For those that want the story: Yesterday was the annual Oregon Road Runner’s Club Y2K race in Forest Grove near my home. This is the 9th straight year I’ve run this race and its little twist is that each year it commemorates the New Year by getting .01K longer in distance. Last year it was 20.08K and this year it was 20.09K or 12.48-miles in distance. It’s very low key, I know a lot of the other racers, and it is always a great way to kick off the New Year.
The weather at home on race morning was 26* and heavy fog with no wind which meant possible slick conditions. My daughter was also running it again this year (her 3rd time) so she, my beautiful wife, and I showed up at Tom McCall Middle School an hour before the race start and climbed out of the Outback and quickly realized the parking lot was an ice rink. This did not bode well for good course conditions. I was a bit disappointed as I had been looking forward to running this one hard and trying to once again win my Age Group (M40-44.) But I don’t stress over things I can’t control and one of those is the weather. We hung out a bit inside and waited for the start and tried to keep warm as it was still only 28* outside. My wife’s good friend showed up and hung out with us as her son (Billy, Age Group M25-29) was also running the race and made it known that he wanted to beat me since I got him at the Portland Marathon last October. I also chatted with a friend of mine (Cormac) from my Saturday running group (The Mango Project.)
Close to race start time we all headed out to the start line on slippery sidewalks where I saw one person slip and fall. Not a good sign! Everyone was very careful in the crowd not to push or crowd too much since the road was very slick. I lined myself up about four rows back and took off when the Race Director hollered “Go!” Immediately it was apparent that the conditions were going to be dicey at the least. I did not want to fall and I did not want an injury so I backed off a bit and made very sure of my footing which isn’t the fastest way to run a race! But everyone else was dealing with the same conditions so I made the best of it and just ran carefully.
Once outside of town and along Highway 47 we run on a biking/running path that was recently repaved and that was very slick. Some folks took to running along the soft gravel shoulder looking for traction and I still saw two runners go down. I backed off a little bit more and just focused on staying upright. Around mile 3 the race splits for the 20.09K and 10K runners and thins out as a result. I could see Billy up ahead not pulling away from me, but I wasn’t gaining on him either. Once on to the back roads the conditions improved and there was still some gravel on the roads to run on and I was able to start picking the pace back up. Shortly after this the 20K and 10K merge for about a mile so I got to pass a lot of runners which is always a nice pick-me-up. After the races split again is the long out-and-back section on Stringtown Road. On the second big hill climb I got passed by a guy in red and he was running strong and I could see he was about my age so I didn’t want him to get too far ahead of me. Near the turn-around I saw the lead runners and started my count to see where I was. Billy was running in 3rd place and hadn’t gotten any further ahead of me, but I hadn’t gained on him either. I was running in 8th place overall and still feeling pretty good. The pavement wasn’t as slick as it was earlier so I began the chase of the two guys ahead of me and hoped I had time to catch them. About this time I saw Cormac then my daughter who I slapped gloves with on the way by. I went back to focusing on the two runners ahead of me and was pretty sure I could catch the guy in red, but wasn’t sure about the guy in blue who was running in 6th. I picked up the pace as best I could and soon enough I was gaining. I went by the guy in red on one of the climbs and then was able to catch the next guy about a mile further up the road to move into 6th place overall. The 5th place guy (and Billy) was too far ahead with too little race course left to catch but I still pushed so the two I just passed couldn’t pay me back. Soon enough I was climbing the longest and steepest hill of the course which is right at the end (who’s idea was that?!) and a quarter of a mile later I ran by wife and her friend near the finish. Running down the finish chute stretch I ran by Billy who had just finished and with a grin he yelled, “that was for Portland!” and then I was done.
Although I couldn’t quite catch Billy I feel pretty good about making him work so hard since I have 17 years on the young man. I told him to join us in Eugene for the marathon in May and we’ll see if he can stay in front of me for 26 miles next time. Even with the slick conditions during the race I was able to finish only about a minute off my fastest time there and that race was .02K shorter so I’m happy with that. And finishing as the #1 Old Guy is always a nice way to start out the New Year!