Place: 2nd Overall, 1st Age Group
I really didn't know what to expect going into this race. Well, thats not completely true. I knew I was in shape to PR. I had been putting in a lot of miles (50mpw for the 11 weeks before the race) and my previous PR was a split from a half marathon. The only real speed work I did to get ready for this race was three sessions of 4x1 mile. The first session average was 6:07, then 6:04 and finally 5:57.
The night before the race, my wife and I went to my sisters for dinner. Pasta and wine is a great combination for a pre-race dinner. The next morning I had a waffle for breakfast and some coffee. Then it was out the door to head to the race. It was fairly local, one town over. The field was a decent size, maybe 200 for the 5k and 10k. The field was not that fast though. There was one returning runner in the 10k (last years/this years winner) and a few other 5k guys who ran about our pace.
My wife was nice enough to go pick up my mom who wanted to see the race. Other than them, two of the women from my running club came to cheer for me. It was nice to have my own little cheering section.
After doing a very short jog and some hip exercises I took off my prerace/postrace clothes and headed to the starting line. I lined up in front for two reasons: 1. I was planning on running fast and did not want to get held up in traffic 2. This race was not chip timed. They did it old school with a stop watch and bib tags. I did a few strides to get my muscles warmed up to what race pace would feel like. The weather was close to perfect. Cloudy, mid 40's, slightly windy/rainy. Other than the wind and rain, couldn't have asked for better weather.
At the sound of the gun, myself and four other guys took off. We ran together, plus a few seconds, until the 5k runners turned around (both races were out and back courses). This is when I knew how I was doing place wise. Three guys turned around, only one kept going. So I was in 2nd place! I kept him in my sights as best I could. There is a small uphill at in the third mile that slowed me down a little, but I was able to use that to pick up some speed on the return trip. At the halfway point, he was about 30 seconds ahead of me. I knew that if I tried to catch him I might blow up, so I decided that 2nd place was more than good enough and focused on my time. My split at the halfway was 18:48. For those keeping score, that is a 10 second PR...set during a longer race...guess I need to find a 5k and set a real PR.
The second half of the race got a little more crowded. At first it was nice, just passing 10k runners who were still heading out. A lot of them cheered for the front runners which gave me a huge boost. One of them even told me "you're 45 back, you can catch him". At this point in the race, I fel0t like I could taste my breakfast coming back up. I thought, 'yeah, I can sprint to catch him and then throw up on the side of the course while he finishes'. Once we got to the 5k turn around, things got interesting. I had to weave between strollers and walkers and slower runners. Kind of annoying but it was not too bad. I never had to alter my stride so I was ok with it.
Coming towards the finish, my running club friends were banging their cowbell and hollerin', definitely gave me a little boost. As I got closer I saw the clock say 37:17. No way! I couldn't believe that was my time. I pushed a little bit and crossed the finish line. Very shortly after, I stopped my watch @ 37:37. That's 1:53 faster than my unofficial PR (the split from a half marathon) and 2:26 faster than my official PR.
1:23 (0.24 miles)
A few photos from my wife's camera.
Coming in at the finish behind a 5k runner.
With my mom before the race.
Doing some strides before the start.