Where’d He Come From?

Yesterday – 30 minutes in the HydroWorx pool.  Easy, warm, good.  ‘Nuff said.

Today was race day.  Next to the Father-Daughter dance, don’t think the kids have been so anxious to go to school with me before.  I almost felt like a piece of meat.  They probably lose every “my dad… can/has more/is better than your dad” argument, except the always important “…..can beat your dad in a 5k”.  Today was their day (hopefully, for their sake).  Off to the elementary school for check in, number pinning on, then jungle gym instead of warmup.  Opted to leave my track pants on, half because it was pretty cold out, and half because I realized that my split shorts gave off the impression that I was here to actually make a statement.  Actual goal was to lie low, win with minimum effort, and then “aw shucks” with all the people that would think that 20:00 was a good 5k time.  Also was hoping to just cruise because the new weekend plan now involved a more serious 5k on Sunday morning, so I was hoping to expend minimum energy in this one.   Whoever sold me on this race failed to include one important detail…

After the start was delayed by the approximately 37 elementary boys that were creeping so far ahead of the starting line that even the starter (who otherwise couldn’t have cared less) couldn’t ignore it, we were off.  Course was around a neighborhood and then around the school, then repeat.  Had the usual herd of youngsters took off like a bolt of lightning, one of them actually had some staying power and lasted over a half a mile.  At the mile mark in about 5:45, feeling fine and very lonely (a good thing).  Made my way around the school on a stone path, then across the starting line to complete lap one in front of all the non-runners.  “Yeah Nick!”  All going according to plan…

Back out and into the neighborhood, through 2 miles in 11:30 – another 5:45 right on the nose.  Still just cruising, thinking this was actually pretty fun.  Passed by a buddy’s house at about 2.3 mile, casually asked him if I had anyone sneaking up on me.  “Not really” he said.  Hmmmm…was expecting a joking “no” from him, so I turned around and there is some guy about 20-25 yards behind me.  Hadn’t seen him before, so I keep going.  Re-check about 200 yards later, the dude is now 10 yards behind me.  You have got to be kidding me – this was not in the plan as it was sold to me last week.  I quickly started doing the math in my head and figured that this guy had to be running about a 5:00 mile to bring it in.  My options were to either take it up a couple notches myself from about 1000 meters out and try to hold him off/break him, or just “keep your friends close, and your competition ahead of you”.  Went with Plan B, mostly because it didn’t involve me taking it up a notch.  Held my pace, and sure enough at 2.7 on the Garmin the guy passes me.  Battle at the Shaull School Corral was on like Donkey Kong….

Tucked in nicely as we made our way around the stone nature walk that borders the school property, never thinking when I did this 9 minutes ago that it would ever come to this.  Actually started to feel the pace – again, not the way it was meant to be.  As we made our way up the small rise onto the blacktop I made my move (sounds so bad that I have to “make a move” in the Elementary 5k) – dropped the hammer with 100 to go as we pass  the spectators (all 53 of them).  This guy does not go away – I use a couple bigger/slower folks still on lap one as moving screens, take the last lightpole as tight as I can, and beat him to the finish line to win by a second.  One second.  Awesome.

17:25 I think.  Garmin said 5:14 last mile.  Never saw the guy again, all I found out later was that he was 23.  Would have been nice for him to “declare” beforehand – might have actually warmed up, or at least shed my sweatpants.  I should be thankful I didn’t lose by a second – my kids would forever have been teased on the playground as “Ah ha, your dad got reeled in from 100 yards out in the school 5k”.  Let’s just say I’m glad its over – we’ll see what kind of effect it has on tomorrow’s race over in Harrisburg.  Felt fine afterwards, but if I would have blown a hammy in front of the stroller crowd and gone down in the middle of the kindergarten “4-square” court I would have been really pissed.  For now I have my belt, and my kids can go to school on Monday and revel in all the glory that having their dad win the race will bring them (none).  How sweet it is….


About Nick Berra

I am a 45 year old masters runner from Central Pennsylvania. I have been participating primarily in track events since turning 40 in 2009. This season has produced marks that I have not run in several years, I believe primarily due to starting a strength and flexibility program here at Elite Athletic Performance - I've felt stronger and faster than I have in a long time. That, coupled with lots of underwater running, has kept me healthy and fit - at this age those are things I no longer take for granted... I run USATF events with a team out of Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Track Club. They are a great group who have played a big part in making the sport enjoyable for me again. I also run local races for HydroWorx Track Club, supported by HydroWorx here in Harrisburg PA. Their underwater treadmills and training center has proved to be a crucial part of my training, rehabilitation, and recovery programs. I set personal records in the 800m (1:56.06) in 2010 and in the 1500m (4:02:63) and mile (4:23.48) in 2011. Despite the fact that I am not getting any younger, I nearly PR'ed recently and set the M45 indoor world record in the 800 meters at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I ran 1:56.10, besting the 9 year old record by less than a second. I feel like there are still more big things to come... I am married and have two daughters. I am an assistant XC coach at my alma mater, Cumberland Valley High School here in Mechanicsburg PA. I am also a 1991 graduate of the US Naval Academy, currently working as a pilot for FedEx after serving 10 years on active duty flying in the Navy. Beat Army! Beat Army!
This entry was posted in 5k running, Competitive Races, HydroWorx Exercise Pool, Running and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Where’d He Come From?

  1. Suzan says:

    gee,Nick that was a nail biter..moral ofthe story,never take life for granted.

  2. kevinfforde says:

    As my ex coach used to tell me,the more success I had the bigger the target on my back was going to grow,everyone’s out to live off of a “I beat this guy”story.
    Oh yeah your comment about younger runners going from JV to Olympic Trials in one race came into play Friday……it’ll be in my blog later

  3. kevinfforde says:

    I ommitted from my blog that “JV/OT” after screwing up my 800m ran the opening few laps of the 2 miles w/ the leaders….b4 dropping out……..

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