Sunday, May 15, 2011
Nick Seaman Memorial 5K
Very rarely do I run 5Ks these days. Really the only reason I do occasionally is because it benefits a worthy cause, as was the case today. The last 5K I ran was this same race 2 years ago, slightly different course, when Nick was still fighting his fight with cancer. Nick passed a few months ago, but today with the hard work of some Fossil Ridge High School students, the race was continued to benefit Nick's family and the RamStrength/Lubick Foundation. Coach Lubick even walked the course with his family this morning. So this race was special for a number of reasons, including this was the first time in my life (almost 30 years of running and hundreds of races) that I crossed the finish line first! Obviously there were no elite runners out there today and I think 23:22 is the slowest winning 5K in the history of 5Ks, but it really doesn't change the fact that I met my goal of winning at least one race in my lifetime.
This race is run partially on the Fossil Ridge High School cross-country course (the school where Nick worked and touched so many young lives) and with all the rain this week, many were complaining about the mud. I thought the mud was a non-factor (advantage: slow trail runner). I settled in behind the leader for the first half-mile at what felt like a somewhat comfortable pace. When I saw he was having trouble with the mud sticking to his Nike racing flats, I knew it was time to make my move. I have only led in 2 previous races and both times it was very briefly. This time I was venturing into an experience I have never had before. I had to hold off the rest of the field for another 2.5 miles (or at least so I thought). I regret not wearing my GPS because there were no mile markers, but I felt like I was running close to 6:00 minute mile pace. So I figured I had to hold this lead for about another 15 minutes. That's nothing, right? This was the longest 2.5 miles I have ever run in my life! The mental roller coaster I was experiencing in just a short time compared to the highs and lows that occur over a full 100 miles. Well I'll never know how fast I was running, but when my watch passed 20 minutes and I was still a long way from the finish, I figured the high school kid trying to run me down would catch me and I would have to settle for 2nd. Then I would tell myself "Dammit, this is going to be your best chance ever to win, dig deeper". So the course must have been closer to 4 miles, but I managed to hold off that high schooler just long enough for a 15 second win.
Watching Nick's 1-year old daughter Stella jump out of her Mom's stroller and run across the finish line all smiles reminded us all why we were there today. The challenge of a 5K or a 167K race will never come close to those challenges we never ask for.