Marlton Mayor’s Cup 5k Pre-Race:
The Marlton Mayor’s Cup is my hometown July 4th race. This year was its fifth annual which is coincidental since I’ve tried to run it the previous four years. Vacations and family obligations had always gotten in the way. As luck would have it July 4th fell on a Wednesday and with my sister-in-law’s wedding being 10 days away we had this week free.
Marlton Mayor’s Cup 5k Race day:
For this race I actually have pictures of me as my photographer (and our youngest son) were willing to come to the race. We drove the 5 minutes to the start area and headed over to bib pickup.
The race was really well-organized, a big thanks to race director Carmen Tierno and all the folks in the township for all they did. The field size this year was a record 650 runners and considering the hot weather there was still plenty of water available on the course and in the registration area post race. It’s easy for a local 5k race to get overwhelmed by unexpected crowd size and harsh weather but the Mayor’s Cup had it all handled. We’ll need to figure out how to get Gatorade on the course for next year Carmen…
Before the race and during warm ups it was great to run into some folks I hadn’t seen in years. We got to catch up with a few friends whose kids played in the township leagues with our boys. The conversations centered around High School activities and college acceptance letters and made you realize just how many years had passed since our 8 year-olds were running around the town’s soccer fields.
At about 8:15 I finished my warm up, downed my 01 Prime and then staked out a spot near the front for a 8:30 gun time. This is the fourth race or so that I’ve used the 01 Prime pouch before the start. In all those races I’ve had great starts so I consider it now part of my permanent race day routine.
I stayed over to the side where there was a little slice of shade. I was still sweating just standing at the start as the weather was similar to last Saturday at the Independence 10K. My plan was to go out a little more controlled due to the weather so as not to wilt in the last mile. I didn’t have a time in mind and decided to go out on feel.
Start to Mile 1
The gun sounded and in a mass rush every teenage boy in the township then bolted from the start as if they were giving away free Green Day concert tickets down the street. I made a conscious effort to hold back and not get sucked up into the sprinting hoards. About a half mile into the race the over-zealous and under-trained started falling back and the pack started to spread out a bit.
Over the first mile the heat and humidity hadn’t unleashed their full effect yet but I was mentally preparing for when they did. I heard the beep on my watch as we passed the mile one marker. I looked down and saw 5:53, right away I knew that was too fast in this heat so I let off the gas a bit before my body did it for me.
To Mile 2
The second mile I focused mostly on pace and heat management. I hit every water stop but didn’t drink a drop. It all went on my head to cool me down. I remembered reading it can take 15 to 20 minutes for the body to process about 5 to 7 ounces of water if you are well hydrated. For a race that will last only 20 minutes I didn’t see the point in trying to take in fluids. It did more good on my head. Moderating my pace was working well, I was maintaining position on a few runners and gaining on others. I passed the mile two marker with a 6:12 split.
Mile 2 to the Finish
Either work hard or you might as well quit! – MC Hammer
The heat and humidity were starting to become a factor after the mile two split, temps were in the 80′s and with the heavy rain earlier in the morning it made for another challenging finish. While the field in front of me consisted of mostly High School boys I noticed in the distance one of the runners looked much older. As I closed on him after mile two I noticed a few grey hairs on the back of his head. A tell-tale sign of middle age and possibly in my age group. He had fallen back to me slowly for the past mile so I knew I had an advantage. As I caught up to him he made a comment about us old guys needing to get these young bucks. I agreed and shared with him my disdain for youthful arrogance. We both picked up the pace a bit but he eventually fell back as I was able to pick off a couple of slowing teens.
At about the 2.5 mile point I was jarred a bit as two High School girls went right by me in a gear I haven’t had since Reagan’s first term. Turns out that one of the girls was the three-time champ in the women’s field and she was being challenged by a younger athlete looking to knock her off her throne. The champ out kicked her and came in about 30 secs ahead of me which meant she must have run that last 1/2 mile around a 5 min/mile pace. Very impressive!
My mile three split was again 6:12 and the last tenth was under 6:00 giving me an official time of 18:55, just 12 seconds off my PR from March. Good enough for 15th overall and 1st in my age group. One thing I noticed on the results sheet was that other than a 25-year-old who finished 2nd, every other finisher ahead of me was 20 years old or younger. Lots of fast College and High School track athletes out there so being able to hold my own in that group was an accomplishment.
In four days I had two races, two age group awards and no injuries. I probably won’t do that again (ever) but it was a good experience to test my limits and see the after effects. I think it’s time for a victory dance so feel free to get up from your desks and join me.
Exit question: Where can I get pants like these?