I was feeling pretty good at about four miles into the 10k Sunday when I felt myself starting to pull away from the guy I'd started talking to a couple miles earlier. We'd struck up a conversation, and seemed to be running about the same pace, so rather than race, I decided to hang with him and enjoy the beautiful morning. I eased up, encouraged him to run with me, and we hung together at about 7:15/mile pace. We chatted about running, his work, and family. We were just runners talking through the miles. It was all good.
There were lots of reasons to enjoy the day. First, I was running the 'Great Pumpkin Chase', in Albuquerque, where I lived for a few years a couple decades ago. I was there to help celebrated a friend's birthday, but decided to enter a race while there. It is a beautiful city, and it was a beautiful day with plenty of sun, little wind, and the temperature in the low 50's.
Being a Halloween-themed race, many of the runners also wore costumes. So I was pretty proud of myself when I passed the two women dressed in matching 'Super Girl' outfits!
Albuquerque doesn't have the moniker 'Mile High City', like Denver. But it is, in fact, a mile above sea level, and when you aren't used to the elevation, it takes a while to get used to it. I did not have time to get used to it, so I had a built-in excuse. And distraction. The beautiful Sandia mountains are visible to the east from wherever you are in the city.
So it was a great weekend to relax, see old friends, and get in a nice run. And we were cruising along at 7:15-7:20 pace on a course that runs along the bosque, near the Rio Grande. It included an 'out and back' portion so we could see the other runners a couple times. That came in handy for my new friend because his daughter was also running, and she led the women's race the entire way.
It was a pretty small race. There were about 400 runners combined in both the 10k and 5k, with the majority in the shorter race. It also had a kid's race afterward, which contributed to the community and family atmosphere.
So it was all warm and fuzzy all morning. Had I been really serious, I would have attempted to run about 6:45/mile pace for the 10k. But I had no desire to do that and I was getting a pretty good work-out in, to help justify the partying I was doing all weekend.
And I'd met a new friend. At least until we got to the final turn of the run with about 100 yards to the finish. He was a couple feet behind me, but suddenly broke out into an all-out sprint to the finish line! I felt pretty good, and thought about going with him, but quickly decided that didn't really sound fun. So I let him go.
I finished 11th overall in the race, winning my age group. But that really didn't make much difference, given that I wasn't really racing. I ran it in 45 minutes, probably a couple minutes slower than would have been my goal. Looking at the results, I realized I might have been able to get into the top 5, had I really gone for it. Of course, in a larger field of runners, I might not have even been in the top five in my age group even if I had run 43 minutes!
I congratulated my friend at the finish, then went off to get my camera to take pictures of my friends who were running to celebrate their 50th birthdays. I said nothing to him about his finish, though I do think it was possibly a little breach of running etiquette. I have certainly been guilty of sprinting to the finish in races before, but not leaving someone I've been running with for several miles in the dust without warning.
What are your thoughts? It was a minor infraction in my mind regardless. And it was a fun morning!
See you on the roads.....