RUN FOR THE PIES
(skip to the summary at the bottom for the important stuff)
The Run for the Pies is a long standing tradition in Jacksonville and despite the warm temperatures usually encountered on a June evening, this is one of the fastest 5K events in the state. Offering free pie to fast runners and free running shoes to really fast runners helps generate a good pack of speedsters up front. The party atmosphere at The Landing draws in the rest of the crowd.
Gainesville runners were well represented. Look down the results in both the “Elite” race and the “Open” race and you’ll see many of our local runners went home with pie! This was my second trip to this race. Last year I ran my best 5K of the year there and I wanted to improve on that performance.
Entering in the Elite race meant that I said I can run sub 17:00 for the 5K. There was no checking up on credentials like a Boston Qualifying standard but running way over the time would mean an embarrassing race. The elite race loops around a few blocks downtown 4 times so the runners getting ready for the Open 5K, all 1,500 of them, can watch and cheer for the racers. Being DAL (ask a runner if you don’t know what that means) in front of a big crowd would not be fun. The Elite women get a head start of 2:30 followed by the men.
The starting cannon gets the race moving and the fast guys wanting free shoes took off at a hard pace. There was a U turn 200 meters into the race and even with a field of 30 runners; you don’t want to be in a thick pack running a U turn. I settled in at the back deciding to avoid the danger. Even at the back the pace was fast. Running in next to last place was not really my plan but there I was, holding onto the back of the group. Just before the 1 milemark several of the lead runners went straight where they should have turned left. I could see the confusion as they swept a big turn to get back into the race. (side note: Run the course before the race you bone heads!)
Mile 1 brought us right by the start / finish area where the crowd was. 5:10 and still in 29th place- next to last. Then it happened. Everyone started to fade. I faded too but not like everyone else. I spent the rest of the race passing runners. Just before Mile 2, I passed a friend who I really wanted to beat. I went by a pack of 6 runners and tried to surge ahead enough to get a cushion.
My focus shifted to the green singlet 10 meters ahead of me. As the gap closed, I heard cheers along the course, “Shawn! Run hard!” and “Go Shawn!” With about 500 meters to go, I finally passed Shawn on a turn. I surged and accelerated off the turn. I didn’t want to be in a sprint with 100 to go. He came back and passed me anyway. I settled in 2 yards back and geared up for another surge. I passed him and thought I had settled it. Nope. On the final turn with 200 to go he pulled even. It is a good thing we pushed each other because what we didn’t see behind us was a younger runner blasting a sprint and gaining ground. I beat Shawn by :02 and the other guy by just :03. Why is it that a 5K hurts more than a half marathon? I was glad to be done!
I found Meredith De Franco in the finish area and a Jacksonville.com photographer got our picture holding our pies. Meredith also appears with Betsy Suda, (4th woman overall). With a pie in hand and a new Masters PR, I was pleased with the race.
For the Open 5K I jumped in and paced an old friend. He was hoping for a sub 20:00 but ran 20:22. Considering his training is about 25 miles a month, I think he will get it next time with just a bit more preparation. He ran hard and held on even when it hurt so despite missing the time, it was a good step towards him getting fast again.
The post-race party is the main attraction at this event. Complete with live music, a pie eating contest, beer and pizza. There was a big group of Gainesvillians both at the band area and at McCool’s Irish Pub after the race. I also got a chance to lift a beer with my new friend Shawn.
In summary….Race course, Elite Race : 4 stars. How can I give anything less to a course where I ran fast 2 years in a row. I don’t like all the turns but the crowd cheering and the competitive field more than make up for it.
Awards: 5 Stars. PIE! Or shoes if you’re speedy like Meredith, Betsy, Josh, Phil, Mike Hensley, Mike Rosato, Brian, and some other Gainesville fast folks. The Open race also had nice medals. Ask Barry Murphy or Dan Monteau if you want to see one.
Post-Race Party: 5 Stars. One of the best. Get a hotel room with some runner friends rather than driving back to Gainesville after the race.