After a “not great” week, I wasn’t sure how the Dragon Run would go. I’ve run the race for the last two years. In 2016, it was the first time of the season breaking 19. Last year, I ran around 19 too. This year was much slower for me, but the first year I won, so I have no complaints. Anyway, as I mentioned in my training log, I had a lot of anxiety the last week, and it took a toll on me both mentally and physically. I burnt the candle at too many ends and just felt exhausted for most of the week.
I got to the start around 7:30, warmed up and got to the start around 8:25. I like the Dragon Run because it has a lot of high school kids. It’s a very fast race. Usually, the cross country team doesn’t participate because they have a meet. This year they were there. This meant, there was no way I was toeing the line on the first row because the Kingway Team has both males and females that are much faster.
The race got off, and I immediately found high schoolers sprinting by me. Some I knew would fade, but others I knew were stellar runners. Kingsway is one of the best cross country teams in South Jersey, and I would get my butt handed to me by many of them. My legs felt stiff, I felt better than the previous week, but I didn’t feel 100%. I hit the first mile in 6:20 and thought if I can hold that I’ll be pleased because it would be under 20 minutes.
Around the first mile, I looked over in the field to see wild turkeys. I laughed at said: look at those guys, but the high schoolers around me weren’t amused. The second mile has a 180 turn around, and I got caught behind a large pack of people which made it hard to turn. I almost stopped while turning.
While not ideal, it wasn’t the worst thing. I powered around the turn and headed into the second half of the race. There was a pack of three high school women all running side by side. It seemed as though they were doing a workout and they made it impossible to pass. It reminded me of college all over again. I hit the second mile in 6:17 and was pleased with that.
I wanted to win, and I knew the difference of me winning or getting fourth was the 5 feet in front of me and pack of high school girls. With about half a mile to go, I floored it. My kick is one of the worst so it could end badly or well depending on how the girls responded. If you are ever within .25 of a race with me, you’ll probably outkick me. I’ve attempted to work on it. I knew it was a risky move, but I went for it and ran my third mile in 6:05.
The last .1 is hard because you can see the finish line from over 1/4 mile away. It feels as though it never gets closer. I was hurting hard, but I knew I just needed to hold on. I knew they were on my tail and I crossed the finish in 19:28 and won by a few seconds. I was pleased, and I felt good about my effort. I had to work hard, but I’m happy with how it went.
Questions for you:
Do you have a strong kick?
What is a race you do most years?