Sunday, September 16, 2012

Run With The Heroes 5k

In my pursuit of a sub-20-minute 5k, I somehow managed to run two this weekend. If the second, a timed race, hadn't been short, I would have reset my PR twice, while still being short of my goal. The Saturday run was a fun run, mostly people in the running group I run with Tuesdays and Thursdays, except the fast people didn't show up for whatever reason, and I wound up "winning." Sunday's result was even more shocking: Out of 57 people in my age group, I finished first, and I was 21 out of 700 total. While I'm pleased with my time of 20:13 (for just under 3 miles by my watch), I have more work to do to reach my goal.

The Saturday run was quite informal. There was no timing equipment, not even an official starting or finishing line. The course was along a sidewalk and a crushed granite trail leading out from the gym that I often run on, by myself and with the group. For most of the first mile, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with a guy named Gary, who used to be consistently faster than me, but I've caught up with, and am even a few seconds faster than lately. Near the end of the first mile, I picked up the pace a little from just under 7 minutes to about 6:45. I didn't hear Gary after a while, and nobody else was nearby. I thought he might have let up for some reason, but when I got to the turnaround point halfway, he was only about 20 meters back. The third mile was tough. I hadn't prepared for this run like I normally do for a race, and my stomach started bothering me. I didn't want to slow down too much, I wanted to beat Gary after he came past me and dropped me on a run earlier in the week. I gritted my teeth and finished out at about 7:10 pace, just about 10 seconds ahead of Gary. I felt like, with proper preparation, and someone to chase, I could have done better than the 21:40, but I was pretty psyched for a new personal record.

Sunday I was properly prepared, and there were faster people for me to chase, I just didn't feel like I could go the 6:26 pace needed to hit my goal. A 6:40 pace felt like all I could maintain, and I didn't quite hang onto that in mile three. The course was pretty much the same as my previous 5k PR, in the shopping center a few miles from my house. While not really hilly, it isn't flat, and it was a bit of a struggle to maintain my pace uphill. However, the uphill sections were the ones where I passed the most people. I started very near the front, so there were never that many people in front of me, but after a bunch fell off quickly, I slowly picked off a few more as the run went on. After a light jog to get my watch up over 3.1 miles and some drinks, I found the results posted. When I finally got close enough to read it, I was shocked to see that I was leading my age group. While I was standing there, new results were posted, and while I dropped down from 17 to 21 overall, I was still top in my age group. Unfortunately I had to leave at 9, as they were getting set up to give out awards. One of the women setting up was nice enough to give me the medal (similar to finisher medals given out at some races).

I would have stuck around, but I wanted to ride with explorer James Ketchell (