There was quite a crowd on the Cotton Row course yesterday morning.
(contrariwise, it was just me and the two paper guys out in the neighborhood for the morning walk this morning.)
I managed to wake up about ten minutes early Saturday morning and that gave me the extra time I needed to beat the rush on the race course.
I started out at 5:56:45 and there were about ten people migrating/gathering on the corner of Clinton and Monroe streets for the "official" practice run.
The weather was a nice, humid 68 or so with a layer of gray clouds that looked like they wanted to pee on us.
A peek at the radar before leaving the house told me that the actual rain was coming in from the west and would not be in the area for a couple more hours (it actually arrived about 9:30 while I was shopping at Walmart.)
The warm weather allowed me to dress for the run as I prefer - just shorts and a sleeveless top (I also had on socks, shoes and a headband, but I assumed you knew that).
This was the second trip around this course in my NEW NB running shoes.
BTW - after looking at how my previous running shoes fit, I decided to get regular D width shoes this time, rather than the EE I had been buying since 1999.
The new shoes feel more snug than the others (duh) but not uncomfortably so.
And they seem to support my feet better.
Wee shall see.
Being the antisocial person that I am, I choose to go it alone, as usual (actually, I am just shy).
I expected to be overtaken by most of the crowd anyway.
The first person to pass me was Marty Clark.
I was about halfway through mile two and he came zipping past me (as usual).
A minute or so later another guy came by me.
Early into mile four, a lady and a guy passed me.
That was it.
Am I really that fast?
It is just that everyone else just dawdles along on these practice sessions.
Most of them are younger, stronger and faster than I, but they do not push themselves as I tend to do.
I had no physical problems during the party.
My left knee started to make quiet little complaints near the end of mile one, but as soon as it got my attention, it went away for the duration.
Also, my right ankle tried to whine about the difficulties of life midway into mile three, but, again, the complaint was so quiet and went away after a few seconds.
I seemed to be a bit fatigued, however.
Near the end of mile two my breathing kicked into level three, and try as I would, I could not get it back down to my usual, more comfortable, level two cadence.
A couple of times I even went into level four, which is reserved for end of race/emergency situations.
I fought this the whole rest of the course.
I passed a couple of guys coming up Bankhead Parkway as I was going down.
The real surprise came near the finish line.
As I turned onto Clinton for the last half-mile, I saw a gathering crowd at the corner of Clinton and Monroe.
The closer I got, the bigger the crowd looked.
I estimated the group to be about 50, with lots of women.
My breathing by this time was rapid level four and I wondered if I had any more to give to the cause for a strong finish.
And I was intimidated by the crowd.
But to my amazement, as I passed Monroe and the gaggle of ladies, I launched into a full sprint for a big finish.
And maybe I was showing off a bit for the girls.
For all the noise and fuss, my time was 59:30 or so.
Not so fast.
But I felt good.
Prolly from the heat.