The Lake Geneva Marathon was on Saturday. As a part of the marathon, they have other races including a half marathon, Euro Cross Marathon (22 miles on the shoreline around the lake), a 10K and a 5K. My friends Chris and Paul were running the marathon but since I am running my next marathon in 2 weeks, I opted to run only the 5K and have it a nice fast Tempo run.
The day was cold and windy. I think it was in the upper 30's to low 40's for the start but the wind sure made a bite. I was able to get to watch the start of the marathon/half marathon in the middle of my warm up 2 miles and then change before the start of the 5K.
The 5K and 10K start together and are both on the same an out and back course with the 10K just going further. This course is a killer of a course though. Only the first 250 meters and the last 250 meters are flat, the rest is big hills. The first mile is 150 feet up followed in the next half mile of about 200 feet down and then 100 feet back up to the turn around. Then we have to do it all over again in reverse. It was wet out from the rain the night before and for the first 3/4 of a mile, we ran on a side walk that was occasionally bricks that were rather slippery. This is not necessarily a good course in my mind, at least for the first a last 3/4 of a mile. the rest was hilly but OK.
My goal was to run fast and see if I could place high. In few of the past years, there have been winning times that were achievable by me and other years not. I did not know what to expect this year. The horn sounds and off I go. We hit the sidewalk and I run a conservative pace knowing what is coming. There a quite a few guys a head of me after the first hill but I do not know which of these are in the 10K or the 5K. I get through the first hill without wasting too much energy and cruise down the crest. I begin to feel the next hill as it is a bit steeper than the first one but get to the top and see the turn around. A few guys keep going on the 10K but 3 guys were well ahead of me that turned around and the 5K. I get to the turn around and realize I am in 7th place. (Odd, that is the same place I was in 6 years ago at the turn around of the 10K in this race). I think my pace so far was 7:36, far off what I would do on a flat course which would have been closer to 6:30.
Right after the turn around, I pass one guy and see 2 others within striking distance but the 3 leaders are well ahead out of sight over hill and around curves. Now it is difficult to run a good course as we are running right into all the runners behind us and sometimes they are not looking ahead. The hill down is fast but only for a bit before we have to climb the last 100 foot hill. Again this is difficult but I knew where it ended and I knew it was all downhill after that. By the top of the last hill, I catch the next guy and pass him. I am now in 5th overall and have my sights on the next guy. We are directed onto the sidewalk again but this time we are going fast downhill so I felt this was kind of dangerous. Luckily there are no problems with my footing and I slowly real in the guy in front of me. With 250 meters to go, I am about 20 meters behind him and I see him take a quick look back, I was hoping this was a sign of weakness so I pushed even harder. Not my luck, he just put in a a great finishing kick and I could not catch him. I finish in 22:27. This time would have won the race last year, but not this year. I did win my age group though and was not beat by any one older than me so that was good.
This course was very difficult and I estimate it adds about 2 minutes onto your 5K time. I was talking to the guy right before me and the guy right behind me after the race and we ended up doing a cool down run together. Actually, they joined me for the first mile and then turned back but they seemed like nice guys and we had a good conversation. I ended up running an additional 6 miles along the lake path along the giant mansions on the lake. About 2 miles in, I was looking down at my footing and noticed a piece of paper on the ground. I pick it up and notice it is cash. I pick it up and look around and no one is to bee seen in either direction so I guess it is my lucky day. Ends up it was 2 five dollar bills so my cool down became quite lucrative.
After the cool down and awards, I get in my car and drive the marathon course backwards looking for Chris and Paul. I knew it would be a struggle for them as it was very windy. I find Chris struggling but still on a pace I would be giddy over. He ends up running a 3:24 for 12th place, far off what he is capable of running. Paul is running his second marathon of May already but he still managed to run a 3:59.
The race did offer a nice pizza buffet for all runners so that was a nice touch. When I ran the 10K 6 years ago, my award for first in my age group was a lunch bag that I use ever day. It is not falling apart for 6 years of use and secretly I was hoping to place again this year so maybe I could get a new lunch bag. I did place but this year I got a blue Lake Geneva Extreme Sports beach/bath towel. Guess I need to go and buy a new lunch bag. LOL