Cold Winters Day 5k 12/26
This is one of the most competitive 5ks in the state, and usually draws 400+ runners, most of them actually racing instead of the ton of walkers the back of most local races. This was my last chance at breaking 20 minutes for 2009. This would be a long shot, but I hoped to PR – the course has no major hills. I got there pretty early and did about 1.5 miles of warmup, as the race temps were in the high 30’s (which is cold for us in the Carolinas!). Everyone that I’ve met through running was there, as this is kind of the “crown jewel” of the Tour de Columbia road racing series. I had ramped up my weekly mileage to 34 miles the week prior, then dialed it back this past week and took 2 days off before the race to give it my best effort. I have been hampered by a virus this week but managed to run through it. I felt OK on race morning.
I managed to get up to the third line of runners at the start, and with the gun there was a pretty crazy rush over the first 100 meters. I was weaving and just trying to keep from tripping. I settled into a quick pace at about a quarter mile. My goal was to bank about 10 seconds or so in the first mile (which was mostly downhill) in my sub 20 quest, This meant about 6:17ish pace. After the first half mile, I knew there was trouble – feeling way too winded for this point in the race. I didnt think I was slowing the pace, but as I approached the 1 mile clock, I realized I was losing seconds, not banking them – had about a 6:36 split. Plus all the inclines are on the last 2 miles. I didnt give up hope of the sub 20 until I reached the 2 mile mark, where I was really sucking wind and saw about a 13:20 on the clock (6:46 split). The last 1.1 was mostly mental, as I had zero left in the tank. I knew the sub 20 and the PR were done, so my main drive was to finish ahead of some of my friends who I knew would love to beat me! This race actually had a 3 mile clock, so I saw the 19:59 disappear at that point, and it was about 20:15 at the point I reached it (6:55 split) . I gave it all I had the last 0.1, and luckily it was a pretty sharp downhill at that point. I crossed the finish at 20:53.
I hate to say I was dissappointed, but I was, as I had convinced myself I could pull the sub 20. I’m not sure what happened, but I felt terrible in this race – couldnt wait for it to end. Breathing way too hard and had no spring in the legs. May have been too fast of a start or some lingering effect of being sick, or just not my day. Looking back though, it was 3:06 faster than my time in the same race last year (my first race back after a year of shin splints and fourth race ever). I placed 5th in my age group and 51st overall, which is not bad considering the quality of competition. I also earned another point in Tour de Columbia and finished as the 30-34 age group winner for 2009. True, I competed in 17 more races than the #2, but I’ll take it!
Fitness Zone Jingle Bell 5k
I was targeting this race 2 weeks before my years end 5k to try and bring down my PR within ballpark range of the sub 20. About 120 people today, 8 am start, mid to upper 30’s at race time. I like the cold, but this was a little chilly for my liking as far as running is concerned. This was billed as a pretty flat course. Basically a rectangle with a small hill at the turnaround section. One of my friends who runs low 21’s was there, so he told me he was going to try and hold my pace.
The first mile was entirely flat, and I tried to push the pace after getting caught up in the initial rush. I passed about 5-6 people, though an older guy who was already huffing and puffing blew by me. I figured he would crash soon. I hit the first mile in 6:32, which I wasnt real pleased with, because I usually try to go out super fast and hang on. I was hoping below the magic pace of 6:27, which I’m sure Troy, RAN, jalaughlin, and MDR are aware is the 20 minute barrier. THe second mile included the turnaround section and “the hill” which was really a very short incline. It was over before I got too winded. I was told the rest of the course was flat, so I tried to push the pace after I got a 6:40 reading for my second mile. Old noisy guy was still well ahead of me. I felt my friend start to lag behind, but I was trying too hard to look back. PLus, the course was mostly open, and you still had to deal with a few passing cars, despite the rural town setting. This is when I started to actually feel better – I think I had finally acclimated to the cold and was warmed up enough (I only did a half mile before the race). By the last half mile I the accelerator was pretty much to the floor. I started to catch up with a high school kid, but the old guy was a total machine and holding his ground. Hit the 3 mile mark at 6:23 pace, which I didnt see until the race ended. The course was certified, but Garmin had it at 3.16. I rounded the last little turn into the parking lot and saw 20:03, so I gave it everything and crossed the line at 20:27,- a fraction behind the high school kid. New PR by 15 seconds! Finished 6th overall and 2nd in age group. A coffee cup and a patch were the rewards – not bad. Old guy – actually only 54, but he looked older all bundled up, clocked a 19:58. My friend finished 3rd in our age group, at 21:25.
Jingle All the Way 5k
This is a 5k that is usually well attended and kicks off the Christmas parade in front of the State House in Columbia. About 300+ runners. I looked at the course which included a huge hill at about 1.25 miles in . Race temps were in the mid 40’s, windy, with a chance of rain. I lined up 2nd row behind the singlet and racer shoe types. The pace right from the start felt pretty fast. There were crowds all through the first mile cheering and screaming, so this probably added to the adrenaline. I found a comfortable pace about a half mile into the race, and felt the pack thinning considerably. There was a long downhill stretch followed by a turn at the bottom, and my Garmin informs me of a 6:08 pace.
I was a little panicked at this point, because I figured this meant a bonk was in my near future, especially with the monster hill looming around the bend. To add to my trouble, my shoelaces on my left foot were completely undone, and my car key was in the laces of that shoe. I slowed a bit and hit the hill, which was rough. I dont know what my pace fell to, but it was probably in 8 minute territory. Luckily the hill was only about a quarter mile. I reached the top breatheing pretty hard but relieved the worst was over. Unfortunately, my shoelaces were now so loose that my key broke free and was flopping around my legs. I had to stop and almost rip my laces to free my key, and just held it in my hand the rest of the way. This took several pulls at a complete stop, and probably cost me about 10 seconds minimum. I was very surprised that no one passed me during this debacle – the hill had claimed quite a few people apparently.
The rest of the course had some slight inclines but nothing too bad. I hit mile 2 in 6:56, which wasnt too bad given the hill and the stop. I was pretty gassed by the 2 mile mark, but I felt myself steadily closing in on a 4 person pack ahead of me. I started pushing it a bit as we neared the last half mile. Hit the 3 mile mark at a 6:50 split and put on the afterburners. I passed all but one of the group. However, a ripped black guy built like a sprinter blew by me in the last 100 meters. I saw the clock at about 20:40 but I could not muster a sprint with the way I was breathing. I hit the finish at 21:05. I thought the guy who passed me was in my age group, but checking the computer results showed he was 35, which I think he may of turned in the last month (the guy is known to me from other races). Anyway, I finished in about 14th place and 3rd in my age group, which netted me a nice medal. I knew this was the best outcome because I knew 2 other guys in my AG were there, and they run about 18 minutes. I was OK with the time, considering the huge hill and the stop. I have another 5k next Saturday, which is pretty flat. I’m going to give it my all to lower my PR before my goal race on Dec 26.