My second year in a row started with one of the best run races in Tampa Bay supporting a great cause and spending time with friends. Saturday morning in Fort DeSoto, Florida was the site of Ronnie’s Run, a race raising awareness for alcohol and drug abuse organized by Sean and Jeanne Keeney. They both happen to be great people and I’m honored to be their friends. Here I will share my experience of a wonderful day kicking off my 2022 race season.
I chose to run the the Double Nickel Challenge, first running a 5 mile distance followed by a 5k distance about 40 minutes later. I have found this great training as it matches the distances I will be running in my duathlon races and in similar fashion, running on burned up legs and a tired body on the second run. After I ran the Space Coast Marathon at the end of November, I didn’t do a speed run workout in over five weeks taking a needed break. I’m regularly attempting to calibrate my current fitness and find new ways to get faster so this would give me the information needed to see where I was to start this training block.
It was a cold morning around 50 degrees which after a warm-up and shedding layers is perfect run race weather so I was ready to roll and see what would happen. I had my goal pace in mind and strategy in place for attacking each mile. We took off and my pace for the first quarter and half mile was around target so I was happy with the start and settled in nicely. Two miles in my legs felt strong and cardio on spot so I continued on plan.
Miles 3-4 were spent navigating several turns in a park which impacted pace but not as much as I was thinking so I was very happy coming out of the park with less than a mile remaining. When I sprinted through the finish line I was gassed as normal and felt really good with my effort, running three seconds faster than my goal per mile pace. That was good enough for third overall behind two bad asses. We shared congratulatory thoughts with each other and then broke to recover and get ready for race number two.
For laying it all out in the first race my legs didn’t feel too bad as we were approaching the start of the 5k race but I have done these challenges before and that ‘not too bad’ feeling goes away around mile one to pure deflated strength leading to survival mode for a long stretch. With that in mind I altered my plan for the first quarter, half, and first mile pace of the 5k just slightly slower to see if the experiment would help without giving up valuable time overall.
When the race started, I was behind Dylan Nolan by a few steps for about two seconds as he launched out in a sprint for all three miles…what an amazing runner. I executed my plan for the first mile segments and then at the beginning of mile two I heard footsteps behind me and I recognized them. They were from Tuesday morning track practice belonging to Stephen Crawford. We pushed each other for much of mile two and that kept me fighting longer than I think my legs agreed to. That was incredible. I kept battling to keep Stephen in range and that pulled me through to the finish, two seconds faster than my per mile goal pace good enough for 10th overall and the Age Group win. I also placed 3rd overall in the Double Challenge.
I was most happy with my effort, mental game, times, and finally the results. The second run is simply brutal but the runs and bike are brutal in duathlon races so this was just the mental and physical test I needed. I can’t wait to do it again shortly…
Props to Dylan Nolan, who sprinted the entire 3.1 miles, setting a new personal record (15:42), breaking the tape (overall winner), and getting to the bring the tape home (Kudos to Jeanne & Sean…that is just super cool!). He continues to get faster heading into his senior year in high school.
Congratulations Bob Brown, running five miles for the first time since knee replacement surgery about 15 months ago and killing it, Glen Renaud, April Branam and all the racers out there Saturday.
Thank you Jeanne and Sean Keeney for putting on a great event and I have to say, your volunteers were loud and full of fantastic energy!
Thank you Lauren Nolan for cheering me on and also celebrating as a proud mom when Dylan busted up the course! A great morning, supporting a great cause, and getting fit…what a combination!
– Add Health to Your Life