Thursday, November 24, 2011

2011 Drumstick Dash

     The stakes were always. The consequences of failure would be harsh and severe. Over 14000 people would embark on a 5k course through the streets of Downtown Roanoke this morning and for many it would be an opportunity to socialize or to have a nice "fun run" or perhaps to share in the sense of community that is such a deeply interwoven aspect of the annual Drumstick Dash 5k. For most, it seemed, it would be enough just to be a part of something a little bit bigger than themselves.
All 4 of us tackled the course this morning. Denise and Faith walked it while Chris and I ran.

     Off to the side, however, a solitary figure was preparing for what could quite possibly be the run of his life. Loosening up his muscles, checking his shoes for that ever so perfect fit, the lean yet muscular fitness enthusiast was scanning the scene for the ones he considered the local elites. Some of them would disappear almost as soon as the race started, but others might be holding back just enough to catch a ride in their draft. It might only gain him a second or two, but every second counts when the goal is to go sub 19 in a 5k.

     The enthusiast had done four separate asphalt 5k events over the years with each one faster than the last. Drumstick Dash '09 *BOOM* 23:11, APCO 5k '10 *BOOM* 20:54, Vinton Fall Festival  '10 *BOOM* 19:43 and finally one year ago to the day at last years Drumstick Dash '10 *BOOM* 19:21. That last one still etched in his memory, not so much for the accomplishment, but for the sheer brutality of the energetic expenditure. Always looking to out perform his past, the fitness enthusiast knew this morning could very well bring him face to face with a pace so violent that Death would cringe. Others had done it and survived. Survival is not, however, a given when sub 6 minute miles are involved.

     12 days earlier the fitness enthusiast had just completed his 2nd marathon. The results of which still puzzled him a bit. He wanted to say he had over trained and paid the price by finishing with a less than anticipated performance on race day, but there was more to it than that. The whole experience had left him empty. Lacking the motivation to keep his fast twitch muscles tuned up and firing, he simply retreated to his weight room and focused on power lifting. The 2011 Drumstick Dash 5k was coming, however, and NOT doing it was NOT an option. So the fitness enthusiast solemnly accepted the inevitable paradox. How to keep the streak of faster 5k's alive while simultaneously making only insignificant efforts to maintain any sort of cardiovascular intensity?
Locomotive passing through just prior to race start.

     The answer, of course, was Magic! Running a sub 19 5k usually requires intensive training, but not if you catch a magic leprechaun and he grants you a wish in exchange for his freedom! So the fitness enthusiast had stayed up late the night before the race with the hope that a magic leprechaun would present itself so he could just reach out and catch it. That didn't happen..., so with the power of improvisation the enthusiast settled for wishful thinking and now here he was at the start line looking at  3...2...1...GO!

     Violence was the answer. Every step had to hurt and every hurt had to be embraced. Mile 1: knocked out in 6:10, not a sub 6, but on par for a PR, Mile 2 knocked out in 6:31: unacceptable, only a strong push on mile 3 can save the day, Mile 3: 6:33 = failure. Final Time of 19:47

     Content to know that failure is only a temporary situation, the fitness enthusiast dusted himself off and vowed to never forget that wishful thinking is no substitute for good, hard, safe training. It was also of measurable consolation to know that even as the streak of progressively faster 5k's was being laid to rest another streak was rising up to replace it...he now had 3 5k's in a row going sub 20. "Perhaps" he thought "The next time I try to go for a 5k PR, I'll have something more than residual fitness to offer, perhaps I'll implement a 5k training plan and follow it and see what that yields."

     When he started running several years ago, improvement was rapid and constantly faster times was practically a given. Now, it seemed, the days of "low hanging fruit" were behind him. No more taking PR's for granted. From this race forward a different type of runner would emerge, what form that would take is still a matter of speculation...

    The Drumstick Dash 5k: Garmin stats
2011-time: 19:47 (chip) 19:49 (gun), pace: 6:22/M, Place 97/3763 overall, 4/187 in my age group, 92/1877among men.


  1. Awesome post! Totally enjoyed reading it, I read it out loud to Lydia and we both laughed and anticipated the next lines.
    Good performance. though not another PR. it is good to be reminded that you are human after all.
    I enjoyed the 3rd person narrative!

  2. Thanks. It's great to know that my friends can enjoy a laugh when I'm writing to create amusement.

  3. Congratulations on a great race...sub 20 is definitely something to be proud of! This was my first time doing the Drumstick Dash and it's a tough one to pr especially if you're trying not to trip over all the other runners! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

  4. Thanks! Thanksgiving has been a blast. The Drumstick dash organizers did a little better last year at grouping people by their estimated finish times,but all in all it was still a great event.

  5. Congrats on your race. Transitioning from a marathon to a 5K must be hard. I just found your blog by accident and its a good read. Oh, and I'll bet you'll go sub 19 before too long.

  6. Thanks Steve. With limited exception, I barely ran anything in the low 6's for the past two months, so getting a sub 20 was a long shot in and of itself.
    Sometimes my blog entries get satirical or become amusing on some other level. Feel free to enjoy any of my scibblins with laughter or amusement.