Labor Day Fitness Challenge 15k – September 2009

I ran the Labor Day Fitness challenge 15k in Columbia yesterday. Its the state championship for that distance, so there was a pretty big crowd. There was also a 5k race, but it is run as sort of an afterthought and for those that arent able to do the 15k. I had run a trail 5k on Saturday to get my competitive race for the weekend, and I felt this was a chance to try a new distance and take it easy. This course is notorious for being one of the hilliest and most grueling of the road races in the COlumbia area. This fact, and the fact that my longest run ever has only been about 10 miles, led me to take an extremely conservative approach to the race. I decided to go out in 8:30 pace and see how I felt. It was difficult for me to go that slow, especially when all kinds of people were passing me in that first mile. ( A hit to my running ego, for sure- lol) Luckily the weather was amazing with temps in the mid 60’s. I started to speed up just a bit during the first few miles, shaving my splits down to the 8:15 range. After mile 5 there was a quarter mile mountain of a hill that was unlike anything I’ve encountered in racing. People were stopping and walking – there was even a first aid station at the top. I was thankful I had started slow, because I was able to motor up it and pass a ton of people. By the time I had reached 6.2 miles, I realized all I had was a 5k left, and I felt great, so I ramped up the speed significantly, moving to about 7:20-7:30 pace, which seems so much easier once youre that “warmed up”. There were a few more rough hills in the last 5k, and even a brief trail section at the end, with a finish after 2/3 lap on a track. I was pretty beat during that last .3 mile as the increased pace and cumulative mileage started to take its toll. Still, I was able to sprint the track part and finish in 1 hr 16 minutes, 75th overall, 5th in age group. I enjoyed the run a great deal and it gave me confidence I could do a half marathon. Best part =  instant PR!

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