I lost some much training time to illness this summer which makes me nervous as Chicago Marathon nears. I have three races prior to Chicago which will be glorified training runs. Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association’s Twilight 5K is first.
Ryan Nord was set to guide me. Ten days prior to the race, he suffered an injury. Realizing he could not guide, Ryan reached out to best friend, Phil Jones. Phil is a sprinter who looked forward to the moment in the race when I would lay the hammer. At Rock The Night 5K in July, this was when I topped out at 5:55 pace.
Saturday, September 12. Phil and I met hours before the race. We did a two mile warmup. Ryan wished us well. We walked to the start. Gun sounded. Almost immediately, we hit 7:30 pace. We raced up a hill then down. I realized I did not remember this course as I thought. I remembered a hill late in the race near the finish, but I did not recall that most of the course was up and down hills. I pulled back for a bit. On flat ground, I picked it up to 7:00 pace. Hills again. I slowed. I could not find a consistent pace. Phil and I reached mile one in 7:55. We reached mile two in 16:02. My paced slowed. I was winded. My mind wandered. If I am struggling and stressing out now, what will happen when I have to run 26.2? Phil encouraged me to finish strong. My quads were on fire. My stomach hurt. A side stitch. I tried to get rid of it. Half a mile left. I have run 800 meters in less than 3:30 during track sessions. I could do that here. I turned over my legs. Phil sprinted. My quads and hamstrings burned. I ran strong yet I felt out of control as though my form was off. I heard the PA announcer, “Here comes Israel Antonio. Our first sight impaired male and first sight impaired athlete overall.”
Phil and I finished in twenty-four minutes and change. I believe it was a personal best for this race and course, but a couple minutes behind my overall 5K personal best. We ran a two mile cool down. Thank you Phil Jones for stepping in last minute, Ryan Nord for cheering us on, Jenna Parker for being my friend and coach, Pinnacle Performance Company for sponsoring me, and Great Lakes Adaptive Sports Association for another great experience in the annual Twilight 5K.