Sunday is race day. In southern Arizona, mid-September marks the start of the fall racing season for running events. But today is not just any other day; today marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The local race this weekend, along with many around the country, was dedicated to Stephen Siller. A firefighter in New York City, Siller was off-duty on September 11 and was on his way with his three brothers for a round of golf when he heard the news of the airliners hitting the World Trade Center. Siller turned back toward the city and tried to go under the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, but was unable to do so because it had already been closed. Siller ran, in full equipment weighing around 60 pounds, the three miles from the tunnel to the towers. He was last seen alive at the base of the World Trade Center at West and Liberty streets.
My 3.1 miles today is dedicated to the memory of Stephen Siller and all the other heroes who lost their lives 10 years ago.
Onto the race report. Up until a week ago, I did not know this race existed. I was not planning on racing today as I had raced just six days ago in the Labor Day 8-miler. But I got an invitation from Active Advantage saying they had a deal and that five people would get free registration. The catch was you had to be an Active Advantage member and be one of the first five to claim the prize which started at a specified time. I got lucky and got it! If you didn’t get one of the first five, there was an offer to get $5 off the regular $25 registration.
This event was put on by Tagg Running Events. They are a small company that has been producing running events since 2002 in San Diego and since 2004 in Tucson. It looks like most of their events are not in Tucson, but either in Marana, Vail, or Sahuarita. The races actually in Tucson seem to be dominated by the Southern Arizona Road Runners. You could tell they were operating on a budget. But the event was well-organized, though it could have used a few more volunteers.
As far as I’m aware, there was no pre-race packet pick-up, which is okay by me. Prior to the event, I did not receive any email or confirmation from Tagg Running Events. I made sure I was registered on Active.com and hoped for the best. I got to the race a few minutes early, got my bib number, pinned it on, and started a brief warm-up. I wasn’t planning on trying for a personal record, or even going that fast, so my warm-up was kept short. Just a few 100 meter jogs and one sprint to get the blood flowing.
At 6:50, there was a procession led by the Flowing Wells color guard from the congregation area to the start line. Then there were a few words spoken about Stephen Siller, the singing of the National Anthem, and then the 5k racers lined up to go. I started near the front, probably about 5 rows deep on a fairly narrow path. The race route followed a multi-use path paralleling the Santa Cruz River. We travelled up the paved river path for about a mile and turn retraced our steps on a parallel dirt path back to the start line. This would probably been a decent route if we had not got over an inch of rain the night before. The dirt path was mud. It wasn’t that hard to run in, but it wasn’t pleasant either. I’m not sure if it slowed any of the faster runners down, but I did see that at least one of the walkers slipped and fell. After we got back to the start line, there was another out-and-back on the path and dirt trail going the other direction. Then around the baseball fields, through the park to a finish on some very wet grass. I also slipped transitioning from the concrete to the grass, and I did see one other runner slip and fall.
What was the most amazing thing about this race was that there were firefighters who ran in full gear in honor of Stephen Siller and the other 9/11 first responders who lost their lives 10 years ago. For the first 3/4 of a mile, the fastest of the firefighters carrying his gear kept up with my pace of 7:30 minutes per mile. Then he slowed down. He finished in around 26 minutes. Unofficially, I finished with a clock time of 22:22, which was a few seconds faster than my watch-based pace of 7:30. It was a good workout, but not really a good race. I could have definitely gone a lot harder, which is the same thing I said about the race on Monday. Maybe I should have since I took yesterday off, but with 2 races in a week along with a 20+ hour training schedule, I didn’t want to push too hard with a half marathon coming up next weekend in Omaha.
I was originally planning on pacing my sister next week. It’s her first half marathon and only her second race. She did the 5k in Lake Havasu City when I did the half. Now I’m thinking that I may try for a new half marathon PR. My time in Havasu was 1:42:06 on a pretty flat course. That translates to a 7.8 min/mile. I originally planned for a 1:50 time, so made up almost 8 minutes during the race. At this point in time, I’m thinking of trying to set a PR. We’ll see when the time comes. I think a 1:30 is doable. That’s a 6.8 min/mile.
No pictures from me during the race, although there were a couple of photographers out on the course. I also did a loop of the foothills on the bike after the race. I may post on that later today or tomorrow. It was a really good ride.
Keep the legs moving…