Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Someone Call Osama bin Laden to See If Hell Froze Over, I Won a 5k!

Chalk one up for the mid-pack runner.  Chalk another one up for the (almost) middle age runner for that matter, because Saturday morning, I won the Valley Center 5k, an annual 5k road race on a certified course that was open to the general public.  By the way, when I say "won", I don't mean 1st place in my aging age group.  Nope.  I took first place overall, and I set a PR by 46 seconds in the process.

The morning started off on the opposite end of the 'joy' spectrum.  Rain.  Kansas has been in a drought, so wouldn't you know Mother Nature decided to cry me a river in the 1+ hours before start time.  Combined with the 55ยบ temps and wind, it was proving to be a cold, wet morning.  There was also lightning out, so the race was in danger of being postponed.  Against the forecast, the rain actually all but stopped by the time the race got underway.

I jumped out to the quick lead.  It was a little surreal to be THE runner who was following the pace bicyclist.  Since it had just got through down pouring, the streets were wet, and at times I noticed that my shoes weren't gripping the asphalt like you would expect.  Thanks to the aforementioned rain, there were also small streams flowing through most of the intersections that I had to try and jump over; kinda like the steeplechase.  Not an easy task in the later part of the race, and my shoes became introduced to some water. 

By mile 2, my heart rate was up to 200 BPM (95% of max).  The rest of the race, my breathing felt OK, but my legs were real heavy; I was yearning to take a walk break with one mile to go.  No one kept with me after the beginning, so I was curious how big my lead was.  I looked over my left shoulder and spotted one runner one to two hundred yards back.  Turns out, it takes a lot of energy/concentration to look back over your shoulder when running 5k race pace with a red lined heart rate.  Perhaps a better description is my brain was starting to become oxygen deprived.  Either way, I couldn't focus on what was going on with my pursuer.  I didn't know if he was gaining or fading, but I knew I was slowing down.

At the 3rd mile, I had nothing left in the tank.  The second place runner didn't seem to be any closer to me however, and the finish line came into view.  I had to attempt another leap over a body of water, then fight fatigue as there was still a PR on the line.  As anti-climatic as it might seem (thank goodness), I finished the race unchallenged.  The second place runner finished about 22 seconds back, who by the way turned out to be the first place woman.

I could stop there, and perhaps leave those of you who don't know me very well thinking that I'm a pretty fast runner.  However, I have a couple disclaimers to paint a better picture of reality.  First, it was a small race.  Thanks in part to the weather and other local races, there were only 22 runners.  Second, my finish time was 20:08.  That's a pretty good time for me, but a pretty poor time for a 5k champion IMHO.  My main objective of the race was to set a PR, and I did that big time.  My previous best was 20:54 from 2010.

Even though this is the smallest race I know of, they have the coolest glass trophies for the top 3 finishers.

Finally, I'll share my Garmin data.  I had hoped to break 20 minutes, but my first mile was too fast and I got noticeably slower each mile as a result.  A few other things like wind and wet conditions didn't help much either.

As with all short races, my heart rate goes up pretty fast.

Meanwhile, I did taper a couple days for this race, but really I'm deep into marathon training mode; running 70+ miles per week since the Pikes Peak Ascent last month.  The Wichita Prairie Fire Marathon is 2.5 weeks away, and this was a pretty good speed workout to help prepare as I get ready for another taper.