Monday, May 26, 2014
Almost a Chickin': Houska Houska 2014
Because the bike path was flooded.
The Houska Houska 5K, annual Memorial Day fundraiser 5K was held again this year. Always known for creative themes, this year creativity turned out to be necessity. Cooler than average temperatures this year along with recent flash flooding and storms have made the Poudre River hit flood stage just in time for this event.
Yesterday I ran along Spring Creek and I figured we wouldn't be running our usual riverside route along the Poudre today.
The course was short, but then the Houska Houska never is accurate, it's not a certified course, and even the normal route is somewhere just a hair short of 5K.
The other creative twist to the race was a spinoff on the rival Bolder Boulder race about 50 miles south of here: wave starts.
Yes, the Houska Houska had wave starts this year, because we were forced to start and finish on a narrow strip of sidewalk adjacent to Lemay Avenue, which is one of the busiest streets in town. The start and finish line were literally on the railroad tracks.
Dennis and I ran out for a warmup to preview the alternate course, and it looked like mostly rough asphalt with a few puddles, and the far end was dirt, with the potential for mud. We never ran past the asphalt so we didn't get a chance to see the dirt stretch. Two little hills each way, and an out and back. The exact distance was 2.44 miles, quite a bit short of a 5K, more like 4K.
I had to rethink my original chicking strategy, but I sharpened my elbows and decided to just get out there and run hard, and see what happened.
The plan was to walk everyone down Riverside Avenue the few blocks to the start. The waves would be based on the traffic lights, so as each group got across Lemay, they started while the next wave waited for the light to change. Brilliant, creative, and simple.
Dennis and I headed over to the start early, and so we found ourselves several rows back in the "elite" wave, behind a lot of kids and dogs and baby strollers. The first half block was the only tricky part, from the railroad tracks to the corner, and then it was all a wide street.
The gun went off and I tiptoed carefully over the railroad tracks and in between baby strollers, and once we made the turn, I could run. I looked around and couldn't see Dennis. I kept going. When we got up the hill to Nix Farm, we took a right and headed onto a dirt road that was soft but not muddy. We headed slightly downhill to a gate near Timberline Road. Then we turned around and headed back. My watch said 8:32 at the turnaround, and as I did my 180 I saw Dennis The Truck, barreling down on me, just a few yards behind. My only hope was that he'd tire out by the finish...
Heading back up the hill, he passed me, and gained a little distance on me. I thought maybe I'd recover a bit and eventually have the strength or speed to pass him. There was a little downhill grade past Nix Farm but my legs just wouldn't go any faster.
As we approached the finish line it would have taken more than I had in me. I didn't have the leg turnover. I knew he didn't have a watch so I looked at my watch as I saw him cross the finish line, 17:23. When I finished my watch said 17:38. Fifteen seconds. I looked around for him again. A woman was asking me to spell my name, as I'd finished second among women (in our wave). I had no idea they were keeping track, or why.
I saw Dennis leaning against a metal utility box by the tracks, recovering. He looked beat. I felt fine. I wished I had a little more distance to run, maybe it would have happened if we'd had another kilometer to go. Or maybe not. Regardless, 15 seconds in 4 kilometers is not far behind.
I almost chicked the Truck. Not quite. Maybe next year...or maybe at another race, if I can get him to do one.
I figured this is probably like doing a 22 1/2 minute 5K, which is okay right now.
After we came home, I figured out the route distance and told Dennis the statistics. Then I started hinting at another 5K. He was already comfortable on the couch, about to doze off, as I left the house for my 7 mile cooldown.
Never give up...