I woke up at 3:30 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. I was a few hours away from another 5k, but the first with a goal in mind other than just finishing.
At the very least, I wanted to finish in 40 minutes or less, with a pie-in-the-sky goal of 35. I felt fairly confident about 40 minutes, but a couple of things concerned me. First, the hills around the Victory Junction Gang Camp may not seem like much driving through the area in a car, but on foot, they seem almost like Mount Everest.
The second issue was the start time, 7 a.m., and on top of that, a drive of more than an hour to get there. Leaving the house at a little after 5 a.m., would we already be exhausted before the race even started? I've never been a morning person, and then to greet it trying to do something like this ... I was bent out of shape, big time.
Our team -- the Space Shuttle Door Gunners, me, my best friend Joe Estep, his mom Sandi and sister Jennifer; as well as Cory and Shannon Yost, friends from church -- all made it to Randleman in good shape. Next year, we're going to have T-shirts ...
The race got going, and I started a light jog, trying to sort myself out of the logjam of others around me. I kept going out of the main VJGC courtyard and continued up to the guardhouse. It was by far the longest I had ever run ... I don't know that it felt good, but I was at least able to shake off my concern of earlier -- much earlier -- in the morning. I tried to settle into a rhythm ... run much more than I ever have before in an actual 5k, walk long enough to catch my breath and then get after it again.
The hills were hard, there's no doubt about that. Just keep going. Remember to breathe. Keep going. There's the halfway point. Already? Don't get cocky, fat boy. You've still got to figure out a way to scale Mount Randleman. Coming down it was no problem, but coming back up? That's an entirely different story. Take one step and it gets three steps longer.
It nearly beat me in December. Not this time. I actually jogged a little bit on this summit attempt. Once I got to the top, the rest of the way was relatively level. Walk a little bit, jog a little bit more. There's the courtyard again. OK ... it's go time, one last time. I crossed the finish line hurting, but at a jog. What's my time? I looked at the clock ... 37 minutes, 44 seconds.
Last time here, I walked the entire course and finished in 51 minutes. I'll take an improvement of 14 minutes and be happy with it. Very happy. See the results for yourself ...
I didn't get the double-down dough from Gray Garrison, but I'll be picking up the other half to his $100 bill the next time I see him!
Cory beat me to the finish line, and I was just a little bit ahead of Joe. Where are Shannon, Jennifer and Sandi? They're OK, right? Do you see them? They're walking, so it's going to be a few minutes. Hey Cory ... there's Shannon! Jennifer ... yeah, there she is. Good deal. One more to go ... Sandi. I can't believe she's trying this. She's had bad trouble with her feet for a long time. I hope she's alright.
Yep. There she is. She made it. We're all here. We're all sore in places that we didn't know existed -- except maybe for Cory "Super Deacon" Yost -- but we're all in one piece. Another one down. What's next?
Words cannot fully express what it meant to have Joe, Jennifer, Sandi, Cory and Shannon participate in the 5k. I'm incredibly proud of all them, and honored to call them friends. You're my heroes, more than you'll ever know. I love you guys.