30 Before 30 (A 5K recap)

Guest Blogger: Brandon Boucher

5:50 am: Alarm starts going off.  I hit snooze.  Five minutes later, the alarm goes off again. I swing my legs out of bed and get up.  The Jack T. Farrar, Jr. Fill the Shoes 5k (my second race of thirty planned for the year) starts at 8 am.  I have plenty of time.  I check the weather and dress appropriately—a long sleeve Brooks shirt, with a base layer, shorts and a pair of warm up pants.  I grab some juice and a scoop of Endurox for breakfast as well as a Honey Stinger Waffle.  If you haven’t had one, the strawberry tastes like fruit pebbles with honey.  6:45 am: I am out the door and it’s a short drive to the race start.  I grab my packet and race number and begin to warm up.

At 7:50 am, I start making my way to the starting line.  Like all runners I look around at who is around me and who looks like they run fast.  I’m sizing up the competition if you will.  Then I recognize someone.  “Huh, that looks like Mark,” I say to myself.  “Holy buckets it is Mark.”  Mark is one of my co-workers at Pacers.  He is a sophomore at Hayfield High School.  I call his name and he looks over to say hi.  I point at him and then I point to the ground.  We both chuckle, as well as 25 other runners that see my antics. This pleases me.  We shake hands and I tell him good luck.  The race director starts his final instructions and prepares us for the start.

The air horn goes off and a way we go.  It’s a really small field—about 200 runners— considering the last two races I was in had a combined total of 40,000 finishers. The race was a two loop course through a neighborhood near the Kingstowne area in Alexandria, Virginia.

We take off and within the first quarter mile I am in the top ten.  Then a really young kid passes me out of nowhere.  He was fast!  I don’t think he knew how far the race was but within the next quarter mile he was slowing down, back in the top ten.   The race course started out with a fairly long downhill, about a half a mile.  I thought, “this is great,” until I realize that the next half a mile or so will have to be uphill again and back to the start.  It’s not bad; but my legs ache from the marathon the week before.  Finally there was a flat patch leading into a turn back to the starting area to start lap two.  Lap two begins with an out and back up a cul-de-sac.  On the way back, I notice an El Camino parked on the side of the road.   It looks very similar to mine back home.   I smile, and race on.  At this point I look and Mark is way out in front of me—it’s to be expected.  He runs cross country for his high school and is used to running a sub-20 min 5K.

I start the downhill part of the course and I can hear the faint beating of foot steps behind me.  Someone is catching up to me.  Mile 2 comes and goes and the footsteps of a runner are getting louder; he is getting closer.   My lungs are burning, and my legs are tired but I maintain my pace.  I was holing about 7 minute miles to this point.  I climb up to the end of the hill and make my turn to the flat.  I have a little more than a quarter mile to go.  The last part of the course is on a small bike lane off of Telegraph Road, and I have caught up to slower traffic of the 5K.  I call out that I am passing on the right, and a couple with a stroller moves to the right.  “Dang it.”  I swerve to the left and make my pass.  The runner behind me is right behind me now.  A short time later he passes me. This displeases me.  There is not long to go before the end of the race, I hang with him.  I get my breathing under control and match him stride for stride.  We round the last turn, and it’s a straight shot to the finish.  I pull alongside my opponent, nay my nemesis.  We start our sprint.  We are even paced.  I start to pull ahead, he drops off.  The crowd cheers, all ten of them.  I cross the line a few seconds ahead of the other runner.  At the end of the finishers chute I see Mark; he must have finished a half a minute or so ahead of me.  He looks like hell.  I give him a high five and tell him I’ll see him at work later.  I take a slow jog to the car and head off to work.  I was 8th over all, first in my age group.  Number two is in the books.

Stay tuned for more of Brandon’s 30 Before 30 race adventures… 

About mileoneandcounting

I'm a young professional living in the Washington, DC area. Since moving here in 2007 I have honed a passion for running and fitness. Growing up I played soccer and softball (and tested track & field for one year). After college I ran a few 5K races, but running was really only a means to staying in shape for me. Never in my wildest imagination had I thought I'd ever run a marathon, let alone three. Nor did I think I'd get the running bug after doing so, but I'll admit I'm hooked! Over the years my blog has grown into so much more than a running blog though. Sometimes I have deep thoughts. Other times I'm simply sharing a training story or a review of a product. Here's the place where you'll learn about me through my many adventures--even I enjoy going back to re-read some posts from time to time. I've also been able to hone my love for health and wellness through my business called IDLife which stands for Individually Designed Life. I'd love to help inspire you to live your best life yet so please don't hesitate to reach out to me and may my words resonate with you. See you on the trails...
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