Yesterday was my Fourth of July 5k and I'm, very pleased with my results. I wasn't quite sure what to expect going into this - I knew training-wise I could finish the distance fairly easily, but I wasn't sure in what time since my pacing has been all over the place during training runs running up to this race.
A couple of posts ago - I set up the following race goals:
Goal A : Run a sub 28:30 min
Goal B : Run a sub 29 min
Goal C : Run a sub 30 min
Looking at this, you can tell my apprehension going into the run - a 1:30 spread over 3 miles? I wasn't sure what pace I could hold.
Raceday: I woke at 6:00 am for a 7:15 race start feeling pretty good - usually my 39-year-old body needs about 10-20 mins to warm up just so I can walk normally - too many years of killing it growing up. But yesterday I was feeling good after only laying awake in bed for about 5 mins. A good sign.
My house is exactly a mile from the start, so I used that to warmup and I felt pretty good once I stepped out of the door. I brought my ipod to run with, which I normally don't do for races, but I wanted to try something new - I was going to line up at the very back of the field and run my way through the pack - don't you love chip timing?
Up at the start, the race area was pretty good and organized. Over the past few years, this race has really grown and I haven't seen too many issues with this growth. Afterwards I found out that 762 people were running the 5k, and I'm guessing about 400 ran the 10k (I haven't checked yet). That's pretty amazing since 2008 had 550 runners in the 5k race. So it's good to see a race grow like this especially since this run is in my back yard.
After all the pre-race hoopla, I shed my sweatshirt and lined up at the very back of the pack. Behind all of the kids, strollers, walkers, etc. Sitting at the back I started talking with this guy who you could just tell was very fast - tall, lean, and wearing racing flats in bright orange. This guy was about 6'3" and maybe 150 lbs kind of freakish if you ask me, but still a nice guy. After about 2 mins from the gun start, I made my way to the start line and was able to run right from the first step.
I felt really good over the first mile, going out just a little too fast though - I think I clocked a sub 9:00 min mile, just because I know the course really well (I was surprised by not seeing mile markers out along the course.) Running traffic was minimal, over the first mile - even though I did have to step off the street a few times in order to pass some slower people. Still, the choice to start dead last was turning out to be a good idea.
Mile two is pretty much all up hill, not a huge incline, but just enough to become a pain especially when the rise kicks it up a notch over the last 400 meters, but I was pretty much able to hold a good pace over this mile. I'm guessing my mile time here was about a 9:30 - not too sure because I really didn't look and was going on perceived effort at this point - I was still passing slower runners at this point, but started to notice that some runners were 'hanging' at my pace. In fact I had several people come up to me after the race to 'Thank me" for setting a quicker pace than they were used to up that hill. That was a nice side affect for starting last - shoot all I wanted was space to run at the start. :)
The final 1.1 miles were all basically down and flat, setting this course up for a very fast finish. The winner ran this in 15:47. Oh the joys of being 19 again...... Anyway, I was still feeling pretty good, but my quads were getting tired from the effort of the uphill, and all I could think of was, "How are you ever going to finish a half marathon you wuss." Slowly I picked up my pace and passed a few more people on the down hill - but there was this one stroller dude I just couldn't catch until we hit the final flat. I did sneak a glance at my watch when I hit the flat knowing I was about 3 mins from the finish if I was running a 10 min mile - 25:52 - right there I kicked it up another notch, then at the final turn with 400 meters to go, another notch. My lungs were hurting, and my legs were burning but it was too late to stop now - I could see the 'official' clock counting down 29:40, :41, :42 - dammit "I'm going to break 30:00 on that clock" and put myself into another gear. I crossed the line in 29:54 - for an 27:59! What a nice PR! :05 seconds faster than my Birthday Race run back in December.
Overall I'm pleased with my effort, time and ability to improve here. I mean who wouldn't be happy with a PR? Still I was able to take a few other items from this run:
- I now know I have a few more gears left in my legs - I really haven't tried to use them since I hurt my hamstrings about 6 years ago. I know if I really tried to do some speedwork, the speed it still there.
- Conditioning came back pretty quickly (4 weeks) after taking about 8 weeks off. Still I need to maintain the 120 mile monthly base if I was to continue to improve.
- I need to kick up my workouts, to prepare for my half marathon that's in September - this is going to be brutal, but I'm looking forward to it.
- Finally, I know I can run this course in 24 mins if I trained hard enough of it. I can 'feel' it in my body right now. In fact give me two years and I'll hit 21 mins..... (yeah that an 8 min improvement, I know, but it's there.) Shoot I've improved 8 mins in the last two years now and I know I'm not even halfway to the ends of my ability.