August 2, 1998
Run for the Parks 10K was the Northern California 10K RRCA Championship, and it was a warm day in the Bay Area. Kevin and I were running together again, and his girlfriend, Marie, and her brother, Francis, were also running.
Kevin and I had not been particularly competitive in any races we ran, usually because Kevin knew how I ran and how to beat me at the end of a run (waiting for me to slow down and then putting enough distance between us that I could not catch up).
At the start of the race, Marie fell far behind us, and her brother, Francis, surged far ahead of us. I was a little bit ahead of Kevin. I knew a couple of things in strategy: One, that Kevin had not been running as much as I had (less speedwork); and two, I was going to pretend to slow down, wait ’til he passed me, and then bide my time until the last 2 tenths.
I maintained a pretty good pace through 5 miles. It was pretty warm out, and we ran through a few nice neighbors on the course spraying water from their hoses over the runners. At Mile 5, I slowed down briefly, and sure enough, Kevin ran by. As soon as he was 20 yards ahead of me, I picked my pace back up and shadowed him (not enough for him to know what I was doing).
The finish of the race was at the Alameda Mall parking lot, and was basically 3 50 yard dashes, each following a sharp right hand turn… so you couldn’t sprint the last 2 tenths, but you could sprint, turn, sprint, turn, sprint.
After the first turn, I pulled even with Kevin, and we were stride for stride for that 50 yards, with Kevin accelerating a little bit, but I also pulled out a little more. This was one of those times where you might say, “I thought I was giving 100%, but I gave 150%.” I probably was giving 75% at the start of the sprint, but by the end, I was probably 90% effort (at 100%, your heart gives out). I managed to eke out my first Kevin-Emmett victory, by 1 second. Francis, who had been way ahead of us, finished 1 second ahead of me (probably oblivious to our sprint). Even though it was almost a 1 minute PR, I came in 27th in my age division (due to the “championship” nature of the race).
While I don’t know if the staggering defeat was a root cause or just indicative of some runners doing their big race or two and then losing interest, Kevin only ran a dozen or so races in the next 8 years. I wonder what could have been…