My 2010 Cherry Festival 5k Race Report
Remember how I mentioned back in the winter that this would be the Year of the Ass Kicker? PR’s, PR’s, PR’s would flow like NBA free agents to South Beach. Yeah, well, something happened on the way to the start line. This is quickly turning into the Year of the Sack Kicker. My nuts, your race aaannndd KICK. The Cherry Festival is my oldest and dearest race. It’s the first race I ever trained for and, at the time, foolishly thought I’d do once and then wrap up the running career and return to basketball. I believe I even wore a cotton t-shirt for that inaugural race. Cotton! What a noob! I remember someone talking about a “Garmin” in the starting chute and I honestly thought they were referring to a character from Disney’s Pocahontas movie (the raccoon?). If someone had offered me some Gu, I would have punched them in the face, blew my rape whistle, and started screaming “STRANGER! STRANGER!”.
This year would mark my 10th running of this race. I did miss one year – 2007 – after I qualified for Boston the first time. After the BQ, my inflated ego and constant self-congratulating interfered with my ability to register for a local festival “race”. It just seemed so beneath me at the time.
But enough nostalgia, you came here for a riveting race report and not a trip down memory lane. Most of you know already that I can make a race report longer to read than it was to run. And that includes a marathon report.
My 5k PR is 18:22 set at this same race last year. This year, I went all Six Billion Dollar Man in training at the track. Since the Bayshore Marathon over Memorial weekend, I intervalled longer and harder (t.w.s.s) than ever before. It is PR or bust for every race. I missed my marathon PR by the equivalent of 1.5 seconds per mile. The goal for the 5k was to (1.) PR and (2.) Break 18 minutes. Number one seemed all but assured based on my training times and number two (tee—hee) seemed a 50/50 proposition.
Enter race morning.
There’s a little park right across from the community college from which the race begins. We park, poop, and warm-up in this empty space whilst the masses scramble to get inside a smelly port-a-john a ¼ mile away. I was feeling especially poop-weighted that Saturday morning as the hamburger I had the evening before was suffering from separation anxiety with my colon. Usually, the only thing greeting me, as I enter the cemented walls of this spacious shit shack, is the reassuring aromas of defecations past. Not this time. A scraggly bearded hobo was busy washing up at the single sink. I paused for a moment, deciding whether or not to flaunt my well-housed appearance next to his bag of returnable cans, and then passed by and into the stall.
With one eye shooting down, the other two nervously peered through the door crevice at my vagabond bathmate careful not to tap my foot. Apparently done washing (a futile effort if ever there was one), he began reapplying his tattered clothes one at a time. The giant hole of his t-shirt was covered by the long sleeve shirt, whose own giant hole was located in a different spot. In all, four layers went on though I doubt any area of hobo was covered by more than one layer at a time due to his holey patchwork Dalmatian apparel.
I squeezed; he grunted. I ridded myself of waste; he reattached it. And the smell? Oh, the humanity! The room quickly filled with the odor of rotten eggs, beard tangled garbage entrée residue, and disappointment. I could taste it on my tongue as he clanged the bags of cans against the wall and squeezed them through the door with a metallic scrape. Seven varieties of lice left spinning in the air like a less funny, potentially communicable Witch Hazel.
I finished up and headed over to the start line eager to wash away the hobo taste dancing across my tongue like Gavroche in the Paris slums.
The plan was to run the first mile in 5:40-5:45 and the second in 5:45-5:50 and then, from there, something below 6 for mile 3 and gut it out to the finish.
Those plans evaporated with a first mile of 5:49.
Egads, my over confidence was showing. I thought I’d stroll through that first mile before the real work began. Nitmos, you are a cocky ass.
The second mile passed with a certain slappy-footed Lurch chasing me down. How someone can run a race with the bottom of their feet performing constant, rhythmic high-fives with the pavement is beyond me. I tried to move away but he followed right on my heels…then he passed me…then I passed him…then he passed me again. I think he wanted to work with me to push each other to the finish but, secretly, I just wanted to get away from the SLAP SLAP SLAP. The second mile passed in 5:53. Strike two.
The third mile finishes up along the parade route. The villagers stare at you from their lawn chairs patiently waiting for the inflatable cartoon characters, adorable children waving from floats, and attention-seeking politicians. They think we’re crazy; I think they look silly sitting in a lawn chair beside the road three hours before the parade begins.
Third mile: 6:00 even. Strike three!
As always, the course is a bit longer than the actual prescribed 5k distance and I covered the last .11 miles (according to Garmin, .16 miles) in 55 seconds (last year, 43 seconds!).
No PR. No sub 18 minutes. Just another kick in the Sack.
I grabbed some water and waited for Mrs. Nitmos (running her second 5k ever!) to come in. I drank and drank but, no matter how much I drank, I couldn’t get the taste of lost dreams, disappointment and, just maybe, restaurant waste slurry out of my mouth. A missed PR tastes a lot like hobo.
All was not lost, however, as a weaker race field left me with second in my age group. I’ll be able to house that medal in a place where I have a documented history of mortgage payments!
I’ll chalk this up to a bad race and prepare for the next 5k…hopefully with considerably less hobo.
Numbers? Yes, numbers:
Official time: 18:37
Official pace: 6:00/mile
Overall place: 42nd of 2,149
Age group: 2nd of 69
Congratulations to Mrs. Nitmos for posting a second race PR of 23 seconds! No hobo for her.