Thursday, April 15th. A sea of runners and walkers. Central Boulevard in downtown Orlando was filled from sidewalk to sidewalk from Osceola Avenue past where I could see.
The horn went off at 7:15pm. I was near the front and it took 3 minutes and 5 seconds to cross the starting line. It reported took 30 minutes to clear everyone through the starting gate.
It was very crowded and I must have run the first quarter mile around 11 minute pace zigzagging. Trying to be polite and not run into anyone was getting me nowhere fast and I started getting upset. A lot of walkers start near the front when they should be back further. There are plenty of newbies that run fast for the first mile or less, because they don't know how far 3 miles is. I did that once. My very first practice with the high school cross country team was a run for time to see who would run varsity at the upcoming meet that weekend. I took off with the lead pack and ran side by side with our number 3 runner from about half mile to the mile marker. I asked him how much further we had to run before the finish and he laughed at me when he said we weren't even at the first mile. I just realized what I had done and when I slowed down to a near walk and every single person on the team whizzed by me, coach pulled aside and told me to stop running. I learned a valuable lesson that day about being prepared and not giving everything you've got in the first mile. Unfortunately, there are probably four thousand newbie runners at the IOA Corporate 5k every year that make that mistake and you have to run by them to get into any kind of rhythm.
The easy going person started to leave as people whizzed by me on the sidewalks like deer. I moved to the sidewalks at about half a mile and would have bursts of running and near stopping as people kept stopping and zigzagging in my direction. A couple of runners went around me at one point and I heard the girl say to the guy, "This is like cross country."
That's when it kicked in. That's when I remembered running in the pack of a big cross country meet and you felt no kindness for your competition. Elbows out. When people move into your running path from the side, you put your forearm into their shoulder and let them know that it is not acceptable. When two people won't give you enough room to get through after you tell them, "Coming through," you have to put both arms in front of you and create a wedge as you quickly run through them. I got this. I remember how to run in crowds. I heard a few people say, "Sorry," but I wasn't about to turn around and start a conversation.
I hit the mile clock at 11:35, which means I ran an 8:30 first mile. That was minute off my goal pace. That sucked and I knew my time was going to be slow. I would now have to run negatives after putting out way too much energy on the first mile as it was. I almost gave up in my mind and settled into the pace everyone around me was running and let them dictate my pace.
Nope. Not this guy. No way.
I sped up and continued to slip by people. I had to pay so much attention to weaving and passing people that I completely missed the 2 mile marker and clock. Oh well. I just had to keep my speed and guess how far I was on the course based on my training. I did manage to get into a nice rhythm when we got onto Robinson Street and the police had all the runners on the left side of the road. I obviously crossed the dividing line and ran slightly in the right half of the road. It was the only way I could start to open my stride. There had to be close to a mile stretch like this. It was nice. Finally.
I kept gradually increasing my speed towards the finish line. I crossed at 27:41, so my real time was 24:36. I missed the 2 mile marker, so I don't know my exact splits. The first was 8:30 and then the last 2 miles averaged out at 7:40 per mile. I could have run a good race if I took a minute off that first mile.
It was fun in its craziness. That's what this race is all about. A sporting event with a party atmosphere. And it's a good cause. Funds go to the Parramore Kidz Zone. And another thing, our team took first place in the Men's Legal Division. That feels good, too.