On St. Patrick’s Day, Roadkill Racing’s official team motto (emblazoned above) takes on an entirely new meaning, as we joined the huddles masses on the starting line of Johnny’s Running of the Green, hoping for some sort of award and counting the minutes until we celebrate with a post-race brewski. Last year at this race, I tried to chase down Mike Insler the whole time, but as he has since moved to Annapolis, I set my sights on the only other RKR member making an appearance this year, Chanse. Ryan was there, albeit being chauffeured around in the pace car like some sort of celebrity. Lucky dog.
Proving that the weather in Western New York is as fickle as it is wicked, the morning of the race was actually quite pleasant. I honestly don’t think a single person who ran in the Freezeroo series over the winter had any idea of how to actually run fast in above-freezing temperatures. While there was a bit more humidity and fog in the air than I would have liked, the crisp 50-degree temperature promised fast performances all around.
After warming up for a couple of miles with Chanse, we made our way to the starting line. After a few strides, I settled into a spot just behind the front line. However, chaos and mayhem soon reared their ugly heads. The officials made everybody standing on the left side of the median move over to the right, as well as making everyone move back about 20 feet because we were standing in front of the starting line. Within seconds, my carefully-plotted starting position had been foiled, as I was now 7 or 8 rows behind the front line, and I think Chanse fared even worse. Bollocks! Luckily, we Roadkill Racers are a brave lot and did not let this development thwart us. The whistle blew and we were off!
The front-runners quickly took off, while Chanse and I maneuvered our way around the horde of people and quickly settled into a good pace. Chanse caught up to me rather quickly and then directly left me in the proverbial dust. I had planned on getting out around 5:20 pace and trying to hang on to 5:30 pace after that. My first mile was perfect in 5:19; Chanse was about 10 seconds ahead of me at this point.
I tried to hang on the second mile, and did pretty well there, too, with a 5:21. Chanse seemed to stay the same distance ahead of me; just far enough that I knew he was out of my reach. As we approached the turn-around, I saw the leaders come back and was humbled to see them running sub-5:00 pace and looking like they were out for a Sunday jog. I ran around the roundabout, politely refusing any water (by means of totally ignoring them), and tried to use the ever-so-slight downhill to pick my pace back up. Unfortunately, I had lagged in the 3rd mile as I split a 5:34.
Around this time, I realized that I was slowly catching up to Derrick Jones, the 2009 Rochester Marathon champion. I tried to slowly reel him in, but somehow ended up running even slower the 4th mile: 5:41. However, I split an even 22:00 through 4 miles, right on 5:30 pace and slightly ahead of my PR pace of 5:32 per mile. I powered up the small hill to the Ford Street Bridge and caught Derrick at the top. Emboldened by my move and frightened by the fact that the former marathon champ was now just a few steps behind me, I put the hammer down and dug deep.
As Chanse finished somewhere ahead of me, I flailed about and tried to keep from staggering as I neared my way to the finish. Last year, I ran a 5:19 trying to catch Mike; this year, I would run a 5:16 trying to stay ahead of Derrick Jones. As I approached the final 100 meters, Ryan appeared like a fairy godmother and berated me with enough enthusiasm and vigor for being a pansy and running slow that I momentarily questioned our friendship, until I remembered that I had asked him to do that. I put on my best sprinting impression, and crossed the line with a final time of 27:16, a 25-second PR. Chanse had run 26:57, a very impressive race as well, and finished 10th overall. Sadly for him, he chose the wrong age group to be in, and was beat by three others, robbing him of an age group award. Luckily for me, I chose a good age group, and managed to win it and thereby score a bottle of Casa Larga wine!
Let it also be known that our very own Jeff Bigham did not run because his awesome, sometimes intimidatingly fast wife Jenn ran and won the women’s division of the race, despite having the flu last week and not feeling 100%. Congratulations Jenn!
Thanks as always to the guys at Runners Pics for the photos.