I ran this race last year when it was Max’s Ring of Fire 5K, but this year they teamed up with Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation to become Max’s Ring of Fire Lemon Run. Both organizations were created in honor of a child that died from cancer, and was created to help research and prevention of childhood cancer. Although Lake Miramar is a 5 mile loop, the race was 4.6 miles, in honor of the 46 children who are diagnosed with childhood cancer each school day.
There were no real goals for this race other than showing up, considering how rare I have been running lately. It’s sad that the only way to force myself to run these days is not wanting to waste x dollars. But it was for a good cause, so it wouldn’t have been that big of a deal if I missed it since I had already registered. And for the most part, that’s how participants were treating this race, a fun time with their kids helping out a good cause. And since there weren’t many people competing, the chances of placing were a lot higher. And the story of how I came at the outcome is a good one, but first the results: 29:41, 4.54 miles (~6:30 min/mile). Placing: 1st AG and 3rd overall. This is by far the best placing I have ever had in any race, of course the asterisk is that it was a very small race (120) with even fewer real runners to compete against. But it was a hard fought award which I’ll go into detail below.
There were a lot of events going on for the kids before and after the race: face painting, paper airplanes, free lemonade, Ronald McDonald, you name it. So it was a pretty upbeat and fun atmosphere at the start. Because I live so close to the course (where I do my long runs, whenever I do rarely have them), I was able to wake up and head over within the hour. No one wanted to get to the front at the start, except for this youngster probably 8 or 9. He actually hung around within the first hundred meters or so! I got off to a fast start and immediately found myself in 2nd. But that pace was way too fast (low 6’s?) and I started to slow down while others caught up. There are actually only 4 characters to this story and I’ll identify them as 1st and 2nd place runners, guy in orange shorts, and old(er) guy.
So after the first half mile or so, it’s #1 and 2 who are so far ahead, they couldn’t really be touched. They finished at least a minute or two before any of us. Then there’s guy in orange shorts who passed me and older guy within the first mile. We passed each other a few times until then he caught up to me one last time. At that point he said something, but I had my music on. He said that if we worked together, we could catch the guy in orange. I agreed and hoped that he didn’t push the pace too much, because I was already starting to get tired. So we ran together for the rest of the race; there were times where I was leading and he would draft me (and accidentally kick the back of my foot every now and then). We eventually catch the guy in orange around mile 2-3 and briefly sandwiched him before passing him. The 3 of us talked after the race and the guy in orange said that he wasn’t really in shape and started off way too fast; he didn’t even have a watch to time himself.
I knew the frontrunners were out of reach, so the rest of the race was simply to maintain our pace and make sure the guy in orange didn’t get a second wind and catch us. Looking at our splits (6:08, 6:29, 6:39, 6:44, 3:40), you can see that we obviously did slow down and it can be a combination of us being tired and that fact that we were all alone, with no one else to try to catch. But there were moments near the end of the race where the older guy would fall back and I would skip a step or two to slow down. And so we finally arrived at the straight-away and saw the finish line up ahead. Now I know we had just met during the race, but I thought there was some sort of unspoken rule: if you work together and help each other out in a race, you’d keep that solidarity and finish together…Nope! The older guy just bolted! I was pretty surprised at that, but I still had some energy left and turned on my afterburners. I caught up to him just before the finish, but he barely edged me to the line.
But the race was over and I was just happy about being done, so didn’t really thinking about what just happened. We shook hands, waited for the guy in orange, who was about 45 seconds to a minute behind. I’m sure it must have been hard for him to run those last few miles alone.
I walked over to the awards table to find out that they were giving out AG winner medals, but not top 3, which makes sense in such a small race. I knew the older guy was definitely out of my AG, but I wasn’t sure about #1 and 2, so there was the chance I didn’t win anything. But once the results were posted, I found out a few things. The first and second place runners were not in my age group AND I had actually beat the older runner! Apparently he had a 3 second head start, so my net time beat his. It’s pretty hard to believe because I’m pretty sure I crossed the start line with everyone else, but I’ll take it. So I won my age group and placed 3rd overall, the best I’ve ever placed at any race. I’m sure the only way that’ll happen again is if it’s another small race like this one and/or I start training like I used to!
But it was a fun race and even more exciting finish. When the announcer called my name up, he was telling everyone how I was throwing elbows with the older runner (obviously not true!) But yeah, the finish was very picture worthy, so I’m glad the photographer got these action shots. Not sure if I’ve ever worked that hard at the end of a race..