The appeal has been made. I'm appealing the official time for this weekend's Firecracker 4 four-mile race in Saratoga. As I crossed the finish line, the clock time was at 35:13. I started towards the middle back of the pack and took at least 10-15 seconds to get to the finish line. However, according to the official results, I ran a time of 35:17. Now, I know this is by far my best time yet. I realize that the clock is not always completely accurate, but I have yet to find a clock that is inaccurate on the slow end. I would normally be pumped with an 8:50/mile pace. This beats my previous best pace time of 9:13 at the Kiwanis Shad Derby 5K. I finished 507 out of 967 people. This race, though, was the first that I set a goal time for. That goal was to beat 35 minutes and run a 8:45/pace. Those damn 17 seconds will eat at me for the next week. Other than this unfortunate timing snafu, the Firecracker was a great race to be a part of.
Race time started at 8:30 Saturday morning. I woke up around 7:15 and took the five minute walk to Broadway in Downtown Saratoga. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning. I grabbed a bagel with peanut butter, small coffee and bottled water at Uncommon Grounds and enjoyed the sites and sounds of the city waking up. The registration was a couple blocks away at the City Centre where two dudes were stringing acoustic guitars and singing happy hippy songs.
Prior to the race, a kid who couldn't have been older than ten years old sang the national anthem and absolutely nailed it.
Immediately after the rendition the gun went off and close to 1000 runners started up Broadway.
The first hill was about a three minutes in and wasn't too bad. Room was tight but I managed to get up it without losing a step. I forget what song I was listening too, but when it ended I looked down and noticed I forgot to start my watch. I knew that I started the I-Pod at the gun and the song last 5:25 so as the watch started I knew I was almost exactly 5:30 into the race. The first mile came shortly after and I was at a pace of 8:30. I was pumped. This meant I was 15 seconds ahead of my goal pace. The second mile was pretty flat. It had a few turns and about 4 minutes into it I spotted my parents. My mother, with camera in hand, seemed very excited to see me running by. My father, on the other hand, gave me one of those looks as if to say," Do you know there are hundreds of people- including senior citizens, pregnant women with strollers and pre-pubescents - ahead of you? Step it up, Kid!" Needless to say, I picked up my pace and approached the 2 mile markers at 17:10. This meant my pace was still ahead of the goal.
I wanted to avoid the water stations this race. However, it was pretty hot and I decided to grab a couple cups on the run just before the 2.5 mile marker. I'm happy I did and feel as though it didn't really slow me down. I hit the 5K point right around 26:30 minutes. This was almost a minute and a half better than any 5K I'd run. It also meant if I could run the final mile in 9 minutes - I would reach my goal. I was well on target until the last 1/2 mile. It was straight up hill and seemed to go forever. I was passing people, but it was definitely here that I lost those pesky 17 seconds. The final few hundred yards were flat and I was in an all out sprint. When I finished, I was pretty sure I had beat the goal of 35 minutes. We now know it was premature.
Which one of you punks messed with the clock?
Despite the bitterness I expressed at the beginning of this post, I was very happy with this race. I thought 35 minutes would be tough to beat. I didn't sleep well at all the night before the race and the course had it's share of hills. My legs were sore all week after the half marathon but I proved to myself I can push it and still finish strong. After not planning on setting any goals for time in next week's Boilermaker 15K, I now am gonna try to beat 1:25:00. This will be just over 9mins/mile. I'm gonna need to stop at three or four water stations next week which I know will add some time. I'm also gonna wanna take in everything that is going on around me. A 9 mine mile pace, though, will be almost 1:40 better than my pace in the half marathon. This would be a considerable improvement in just two weeks time.
As for the rest of this weekend - it was great. Played 18 holes Saturday and was took advantage of Saratoga's famous mineral baths and massage today. I'm feeling good and ready to take on the mean streets of Utica next weekend.