It was 5:20.71, but it was great. The first heat was the women and men 50 and over. I gave 5:10 as my target. 5:20 and 5:25 were put in by others, though, so I knew it would be no cakewalk. [JT sent over some photos.]

It wasn’t. Starting from post-position 11, I cut into the lead by the first turn. Against a solid headwind on the backstraight, I stayed ahead but heard footsteps. Plus there were kids shouting “Go Mr. Mann” all around.

So matters stood for the first two laps. With nothing heard from my sciatica, I was running all out and hoping to be able to hold, contemplating just how much more was to come. The penultimate lap was the same until we hit the 500 to go point, when I was passed by someone from WTC, someone urging him to steadily pass me. At the bell, I was second. About 4 flat.

Now I’m racing. Stay close and slip behind him — it was TimothyJim McVeigh — on the backstraight and let him work the wind. I started feeling better, winding up for a kick, and I started to pick it up slightly with 200 to go. I don’t know whether it was me picking it up or McVeigh slowing, but I was back in the front with 150 left. At 110 to go I committed and started running as fast and as hard as I could. I was clear and not challenged. For the win.

The time was the time. But along the lines of what Ewen spoke of, it was racing. I’ve not often been in front like that; I only remember the Empire State Games Masters 5,000 in which Greg D. passed me and was promptly clear and unchallenged as we passed the bell. Running hard, even very hard. Heading down the backstraight on the bell lap staring at the back of McVeigh, I decided — this was an actual mental process — I was not going to lay down and let him have it. The constant cheers for him and the other WTC guy behind me (I assume JT and JS were cheering for me, but I didn’t hear any of it in the constant encouragement for the others, and they are both pretty quiet to begin with) helped me decide. And while my kick might not have been “fast” in some absolute sense, it was plenty fast for me and it was quite enjoyable to be pushing down lane 2 on the homestraight knowing I was not going to be passed.

It was fun.

JT’s Photos; notice the heel strking:

450 to Go

Finishing Stretch