After finishing up turkey leftovers and celebrating a birthday, it’s time to get back to posting some race recaps! We’ve got two posts this week, both with a Thanksgiving theme, but two totally different experiences! First up, the Drumstix Dash….
The Drumstix Dash is a 5k race held on the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus. The Dauntless Drumstix Dash, as it was previously known, was started by ASU employee Walt Carter as a way to raise money for a scholarship fund which helps students at the Polytechnic Campus. The Sun Devil Drumstix Dash (as it’s currently known) is free to the community with donations to the scholarship fund gladly accepted. It is a great way for the school to raise funds and remember Walt, who passed away several years ago. This year marked the 15th year of the Dash, and it was the first time we took part. This year the race was held on a Friday afternoon, so after Mindy got home from work we checked the darkening, but still dry skies, and headed out.
This is a local 5k in the truest sense. Results for the 5k list 79 finishers, and there were maybe a few dozen participating the 1 mile fun/kids run. Despite the size, the ASU Planning and Activities Board made sure all the usual race details were present- tech tee, finisher’s medal, and goodie bag were all provided (remember, this is a free race!). There was a small expo paired with the on-site registration- a few ASU organizations, but also sponsors like Muscle Milk and Kind Bars (samples!). The expo area was originally scheduled for the soccer/football fields by the new recreation center, but the weather forced the vendors inside. Ah, the weather… normally we’d expect the weather to be somewhere around 70 degrees and sunny this time of year, but race day was a different story. The high was around 50 (normally not bad for running) and we were treated to rain showers to pair with our chilly (for Arizona) temps.
As for the race itself… The course stays entirely within the core of campus, utilizing the campus malls and the new campus loop road. A few turns along the course, but otherwise nothing of note. They announced the start inside the rec center, where most of us were trying to stay warm, and after downing a HammerGel, I headed out front. With less than a hundred people running, there were no corrals, just a start line and a crowd. Most of the runners were ASU students and staff, and while there were a few students who looked ready to run, nobody seemed to mind when I worked my way up to the front. On the way to the event, I noticed I forgot to bring my Garmin- something that never happens! Since I’d not have the luxury of knowing my pace, I planned to stay with the leader for the first mile and take it from there.
After the horn went off, that is exactly what I did. I estimated we were clipping at a slightly sub-6 pace, but it didn’t feel too bad. The cold rain stinging my face felt worse than any of the running. The crowd at the front thinned fast and it seemed like it would come down to 4 or 5 of us to decide the winner. Just after what I guessed to be the first mile, I decided to pass the current first place runner and dictate the pace. I had been sitting on his heels the whole time and it seemed like the pace he was holding was probably all he had. There is something more than a little rewarding about passing runners half your age, and I only hoped he wouldn’t return the favor before the finish.
With the turns on course it was possible to see how close the next man back was, something I was thankful for on the second half of the course. Leaving the campus pedestrian malls at around mile 1.5, the course put us on the sidewalk running along the campus loop road. As we made the turn onto the loop, I was able to peek behind me and see second place fading, about to be passed by the runner in third. I was happy I opted to go my own pace, but starting to get worried that I’d run out of steam. I was only halfway through this race and alone in front is a tough place to judge your pace by feel. I just decided to keep my pace steady and at the next turn I’d be able to see if I had gain or lost ground to my pursuers.
The plan worked- at the following turn I was able to see the runner previously in third place had now worked his way to second and was probably 10-15 seconds behind me. The next turn was probably ⅓ of a mile away, but as I made that turn, it seemed the gap had stayed the same. The next turn was over a half a mile away, so I just leaned into the wind and tried to run hard enough to put it mentally out of reach for him. 10 seconds doesn’t sound like much, but it’s an eternity when you’re chasing somebody, especially on such a short course. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have anything left for a final kick to the finish, so I hoped if I looked strong enough on the straightaway, I could dissuade him from trying to catch me on the final stretch.
While my plan sounds very calculated, it was probably only in my mind. I just remember telling myself not to pass out or puke during that stretch. It worked though, as at the turn my lead had not diminished as far as I could tell. I had maybe a ¼ mile to the finish from that point, and as cold and tired as I was, I felt pretty confident I could hold my lead. I also knew I felt pretty horrible, which meant I was probably running pretty fast. So I opted to burn off any reserves I had (save me HammerGel!) and hope for a PR. I ended up crossing the line at 18:19 (not chip timed) in first place. It was a few seconds away from a PR, but given the conditions that day, I was thrilled. Second place finished 10 seconds behind me, and 15 years my junior. A small race, but I’ll take my second overall win of the year!
Mindy was there running as well, and finished as the 2nd overall female capping off a successful afternoon of racing for us!