The Tim Kennard 10 Miler is probably my favorite race. This is the 3rd consecutive year that I have done the race. It’s located in Salisbury, MD, a small town on the Eastern Shore, which is the home of Salisbury University, the Alma Matter of both my wife and my mother. The course starts and ends at the University and winds through the flat, pine tree lined streets of the town. This race has the best post-race food of any that I have done. Chicken noodle soup, Jambalaya, chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches, fresh popcorn, pizza, fruits, subs and other things I just can’t remember. The race shirt is also a nice, long sleeved technical shirt that I’m not embarrassed to wear. It’s also professionally timed and the course is monitored by extremely enthusiastic students from the University. All in all, just a really well run race.
Race morning broke under heavy cloud cover. The temperatures were perfect for racing, low 40’s. There was a chance of some rain, but we only saw a light mist as the race started and it was gone before the start line was out of sight. I had done about a 15 minute warm up 15 minutes prior to the gun and a few striders a couple minutes before the gun, so my legs still felt a little heavy at the beginning. The goal was to do the first two miles at 7:00 pace and then drop it into the low 6:50s and see what I had left for the last couple miles. In those first two miles I got passed by about 40 people and then re-passed about 35 of them. The first two miles were 7:00 and 6:58, right on schedule.
The 5K that starts at the same time splits off at around mile two. Somewhere along here I got passed by Red Shorts Guy. He ended up settling about 50 meters ahead of me as I had started to pick up the pace. I stalked him for a couple miles, both of use passing two other guys in mile four, but never really drawing Red Shorts Guy in until just after mile four. I surged after the water stop at mile four and passed him about 1/3 of a mile later and proceeded to drop him. I was really feeling good and loose now and the miles were really clicking by. Miles three and four splits were 6:56, 6:50.
About 150 meters ahead were two new victims to stalk. Through miles five and six I continued to calculate the gap. It started out at somewhere around 30 seconds. Toward the end of mile 6, it had been cut in about half. It was here that one of the guys started to pull away from the other one, dropping him back to me. He was no more than 30 meters ahead as we hit the marker at mile seven. Miles five through seven were in 6:55, 6:48, and 6:47. I was really starting to feel it.
The start of mile eight is the coolest part of the course. It’s an up and back section in Old Town Salisbury on a narrow brick street with small businesses, art galleries and antique stores. Both sides are lined with exuberant supporters whose cheers echo off the old brick facades. It’s also an opportunity to look the opponent ahead of you right in the eye after they hit the turnaround. I got a real good look at the two guys I was chasing. I’d love to say they looked scared, but that would be far too dramatic. It was right around mile eight that I caught and passed the first guy. I know had my sights on the other fellow, who still had a gap of probably 80 meters. I said to myself “Catch him by 9, drop him before the finish” and that is what I set out to do. I felt really good at this time so I had picked it up a bit. He had too. Through mile 9, I had cut the gap in half so I still had some work to do. Eight in nine ticked off in 6:42 and 6:41.
At the nine mile marker, I knew it was go time. I felt like I had a lot left in the tank, so I went for it, bearing down pretty hard. There is a long, straight section about a quarter mile after the marker. I reeled him in pretty quickly and went by him with about a half mile to go. He didn’t respond. I continued to pull away. As I made the turn to the finish line, I fired up my kick, just to be sure. As I crossed the line, I saw 1:07 something. I was shocked. My goal coming in was low 1:09s, maybe even 1:08s. I had covered the last mile in 6:21, with the last guy I passed crossing about 20 seconds behind me. Turns out he came in second in our age group.
My time was 1:07:26, which was a PR of 2:37 seconds from the same race last year. I finished first in my age group (40-44) and 19th over-all. I love this race. I think I’ll do it again next year, setting my sights on First Master.