Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Day I beat Frank Shorter - Airport 5k

My mom and I in front of one of the old airplanes
Today was the Airport 5k in Rochester, NY - my last race for a while.  I have not done any serious training since my track race 2 weeks ago.  A few runs here and there, but no speedwork.  I just wanted to go out and have a good run.  It was my hope to run under 21 minutes, but that was it.  My mom ran too, and it was her second race back after ITBS issues since last fall.  She has been running consistently, and was hoping for a PR.  She came pretty close in her first race back, but was now ready.

Way too smug about being so close to Frank Shorter
Thursday night I did a 5 mile run in 91 degree weather at 7:46 pace with my friend Jen (running friend since 7th grade) and her friends.  So hot!  So, I was hoping that with a shorter race and at least twenty-degree-cooler weather, that would help.  I did my warm-up at home, and then hopped in the car with my mom to the race, which was at the Rochester Airport.  The staging area was in a hangar and the race was on the runway!  Pretty cool experience - you don't get to run around there often!  Frank Shorter was the race marshall, so he spoke beforehand.  At the race, I lined up near the front (had looked at old results and was pretty sure I'd finish in the top 10 women)...and near Frank Shorter.  As you can see, I look pretty smug standing so close to him.  In case you missed the memo, Frank Shorter is a 2 time Olympian in the marathon - Gold in '72 and Silver in '76.  Don't think I'll ever be able to start so close to I took advantage!  And then the gun went off!

So warm!  We were off and things spread out fairly quickly.  I ran 6:34 for the first mile, which was fine with me.  My friend Jen and her dad were both volunteering, so I got to see them each twice throughout the race - and Jen was at the first mile marker.  There was a turnaround, and I counted women - I was 6th.  That worked for me - the other women were way ahead, and I didn't really think I could make progress to catch anyone else.  But I was running my own race.  Mile 2 - 6:38.  At this point, running on the runway was cool in theory, but hot.  I wished there was a second water station so I could dump more water on my head.  Oh well.  2.5 miles in, a woman runs up along side of me.  I put a couple of yards on her, but she made a decisive pass.  At that point, I just wanted to finish.  I got to see my friend Jen's dad again.  Now, this man was my softball coach in 5th and 6th grade when I was a very timid catcher (I've since stepped away from ball sports).  So, I have heard this man cheering "Go Vanessa" for over half of my life.  His cheers (and my dad's) helped me bring me in, and I was very pleased to come across the finish line.

20:31 - 6:37 pace
Go Mom! En route to 29:35 5k PR!
Not a PR, but my 3rd fastest 5k.  Not too shabby for minimal training!  But while my race was over, it was my turn to play the role of spectator, as I was waiting for my mom to come in.  The cool thing was that I saw her twice during the race because of the two out-and-back parts.  I had a fair estimate of when she was going to finish, so I stood and cheered the other runners while waiting for her to come in.  Yes, that meant cheering for Frank Shorter.  Now, he is 64 and long retired, but still, for one day, I beat Frank Shorter.  He ran it in about 27 minutes.  And then, not too long after, my mom came in!  She ran 29:35 - a 20 second PR!  It was very exciting watching her come in.

Frank and I - he doesn't seem to be too upset.
 He did say when I met him, "You beat me, eh?
Afterwards,  I got to meet Frank Shorter and speak to him, which was very cool.  Very nice guy and fun to speak with.  I also won my age group, so Frank Shorter gave me my award - a gift certificate to a local salon/spa.

We had a really fun day.  My mom and I had a great time at the race, and then afterwards we saw the new movie Brave (come on, I'm a medievalist - how could I not?).  Very cute, and maybe will spark a new generation of kids to fall in love with medieval history.  After that, my dad and I played 9 holes of golf.  Let's just say that my athletic talent lies with running - but I did have a couple of good holes.

Me and my friend Jen
We started running together in middle school

And tomorrow I'll be back at the airport to fly to California!  But today goes down as the Day I Beat Frank Shorter in a road race.  I'm sure he's not too bothered about it - I'm sure his two Olympic medals are keeping him happy.

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