Wounded Warrior 5K 2012

Contributed by Matt Mullen

When trolling www.active.com for a race to run this weekend, I found the Manteca Wounded Warrior 5k was serving free post-race omeletes.  Sold!

The memorial day theme was strong from the start – flags everywhere, uniformed vets, a blue single-prop plane was making low-flying

yarn bomb flag

smoke trails over the start line, and someone decided to yarn-bomb a bike rack in truly patriotic fashion.

I walked the site a bit and found a lot of post-race festivities.  The right of the finish line held a classic car show, and the left an impressive display of  crucifixes.

They were putting up a pretty big kid’s zone, too, full of inflatable jumpy houses. I wish I’d brought my kids along, they’d have been pretty wow’d by the site:

jumpy houses

I warmed up until 8:00 (gun time!) came, and then was pretty confused: The race didn’t start.

dancers

In fact, I couldn’t find a start line.

There were mobs of confused runners all around, not sure where to go and asking around for the race director  The volunteers I talked to had no ideas, and the only people with a clear purpose was the U-JAMS dance crew, who led bored runners in sort of live DDR contest.  Looked fun, but where is the race?!

The race director eventually showed, explained we were starting from a spot with two tiny flags in the ground, and then the longest pre-race ceremony I’ve ever seen began.  Veterans were introduced, tears were shed, orders shouted, rifles fired, flags were flown at full, then half-mast, and a young woman belted out a national anthem.

Finally someone said “let’s run”, reminding me I was actually there for a race, and then we started.

I was getting a lot a attention from runners – I kept hearing “You’re running in flip-flops?!”.  Not exactly.  I’d been told that the course wasn’t barefoot-friendly, so I wore my Vibram Luna Sandals to weather the rough terrain I’d been warned about.  Then I saw the course.  It was the opposite – smooth paved streets with little debris.  Too bad.

I focused on cadence during the run – I’ve read that keeping good cadence is important, and I ran mile 1 in 7:50.  I realized that’d put my final time over 24 minutes, which seemed too slow to me, so I asserted that I’d speed up.  Well, my mind decided to, but my body didn’t comply – I finished mile 2 in 7:48 – not much more speed.

Passing a runner in mile 3 felt good, though, so I kept working until I’d passed 5 more.  The last group of 3 I passed was just then I’d noted from my runkeeper data that I was right on pace for 24:00, so I hollered “on pace for 24 guys!” on the way.  Moments later, the youngest in the group was sprinting by me.  I applauded him, but wondered if it was early – we had ~ 200 yards left.  Then I could see the finish line so went to full sprint – about 5 minutes/mile, re-passed the teen and finished the race, kneeling and dry-heaving.

My 23:55 finish made me the 5th place male age 30-35 finisher, and 36th of 219 total runners.  [ results ]

Free omelet time!  I found the kitchen where a dozen volunteers managed twice as many griddles.  Filled a cup with my favorite sides, and a volunteer fried it up.  win

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