I’ve never met him and it was my second race against Pepi. This time he almost pissed me off, but it’s Thanksgiving. And I am thankful for many non-running related things, although running is on an uptick, so thanks there also.
A damp raw morning with overlying fog provided a sleepy hollow affect on Old Bolton Road for the start of the 1st Annual Stow Gobbler 5K. Two cross country high school brothers came up the idea, planned, certified the course and organized the race held at the new Bose facility.
Obviously, a course record was at stake when Pepi crowds me on the starting line, I shuffle over and wonder what his problem is. "One, Two, Three" shouts the boy’s mom and then a man fires a pistol to start us off. First mile I go from around tenth to fourth. The usual high schools cross country kids are out like a whip only to be winded at the first sign of an incline.
It’s Pepi now in the lead behind the police cruiser with flashing blue lights, some guy who looks like he doesn’t belong, and then me running alongside a kid that I keep encouraging to work together. About halfway, I tell him to stick with it as the two in front are falling off the pace. I am also telling myself that this is already almost half over. First mile went down in 5:20.
We hit mile two around 10:59 and soon pass the number two guy, in a short while it’s me chasing with the thought of sub-17:00 minutes. I mentioned this goal to my old friend Gary at the start and he conceded to a sub-18:00; he has two more races planned for the weekend.
Back across the Great Road and Pepi has begun one of about twelve “look over the shoulders”. What’s he doing? Is he laboring? The gap is closing, still thinking sub-17, but this could be a win.
My wife and son give me a pick up as I am now two strides in front turning left to loop the parking lot in the last half mile. I hug the inside lane running clockwise around the building, Pepi is trying to run on the inclined curb to pass, unusual. More looks from Pepi as he is caught in my peripheral vision as a straightaway opens. It’s not over, this guy is messing around. We have one last left turn at three miles and a slight downgrade to smoke the finish.
Barb is yelling “GO MARK” as the two of us rocket to the tape, my kick is good. But, Pepi’s got another gear and is moving a stride ahead. Seeing the seconds click on the clock was more important than Pepi thrusting number one fingers high in the air crossing first.
I stop my watch, 16:59.55! Unofficially. Back slapping and congratulating my younger competitor and others I realize Pepi kept going. Okay, so he was just playing with me. I figure he was some 16:30 guy, non-marathoner, doing this for kicks and wanted a dramatic finish.
Turns out my official time is 17:00, Pepi gets my 16:59, ouch again, and the course record. Did he run the May Run for the Woods 5K in Stow? Yes, in a time of 16:25, right about that. How about marathon? Could I have him there? Yes, Boston 2007 my 2:49 beats his 2:51! Oh, oh, there he has a Boston 2:32 in 2006 and just ran a 2:31 at St. George in October at age 39.
Pepi, the Canadian living in America will continue to annoy me, only he will be a Master soon. Thanks for my new 5K Masters PR of 11 seconds. Happy Thanksgiving.
8 hours ago