Saturday, March 17, 2012

Rolling in Lehigh Acres

Lehigh Acres is a unincorporated area in Eastern Lee County.  It's a large, sprawling community, named so because it sits on the highest ground in the county.  It's filled with foreclosed homes and a mish-mash of trashy lots, crapped out homes, along with some beautiful neighborhoods and gated communities.  It's a real roll of the dice depending on where you are.

This morning I got up a lot earlier than usual to run the annual 4 mile race in Lehigh Acres.  I'd run this race three other times with mixed results.  It's one of the older local races but the field is usually pretty thin.  The course is pancake flat and winds its way out and back through a tired neighborhood. 

Two years ago I ran the race just missing out on cracking 30 minutes.  I went into the race this weekend knowing that 30 minutes was well within reach, but hope for something a little better.  Despite missing most of January my training has gone exceedingly well.  Save for the perpetual soreness in my right hip I can tell I'm getting a lot faster. 

My neighbor Chris was running and the Czarina was basically taunting me with the fact that he would likely hand my ass to me as he did last month at the Edison 5K.  This time I let Chris take off and worked on finding my rhythm.  At Edison I had gone out like a man on fire and I paid the price.  I got about 3/4 of a mile in and felt really easy.  Just before the mile I passed Chris and worked at relaxing over the next 2 miles.  I snapped along at 7:15 pace and worked at reeling in a pack of five runners about 30 yards ahead of me.

With a mile to go there were just 2 from that pack left in front of me and I began thinking about Chris.  I knew he was back there lurking and sure enough with 3/4 of a mile to go I heard him shout, "John, I'm coming."  I could gauge that he was a good 50 yards behind me so I went to work.  I quickly caught the last 2 from the pack and with less than a half mile to go I could hear Chris shout again, only this time he was a lot closer.

I hung on for dear life and crossed the finish line in 28:59.  Chris came in about 3 seconds behind me.  I won my age group which is something I haven't done in a few years.  I think if I can loss another 5 pounds or so I can run a 5K under 7 minute pace.  I know it doesn't sound fast but I'll take it at my age.  To do it I may have to try and do some speed work.  It's a real dilemma because with it comes a big risk of injury.  But given that our racing season is almost over it seems worth the risk.

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