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!