Race for the Place is in its 3rd year , with proceeds going to benefit St Lawrence Place: http://www.stlawrenceplace.org/cms/. Its the first 5k of the year in the Shandon area , which is renowned among runners for its glorious flatness. I’ve run this race all three years, and its always been well done . I believe Steven Johnson, a fellow runner and yet another crazy fast 35-39er, does race directing duties.
Speaking of crazy fast, it also is becoming one of the most competitive races in the area, despite its still small size (just over 200 runners this year). Unfortunately for me, this is particularly true of the 35-39 age group. It seems like Columbia is just crawling with otherwise anonymous suburban dads who can show up on any old day and knock out an 18 minute 5k just for kicks. There’s a couple of regulars, but this age group still fields complete unknowns on a regular basis that can place. And it seems to be getting more brutal at this race, as youll see with the results at the end of the post. I managed to place 3rd here last year with a 19:55, and I hoped to place again because they give out cool painted ceramic tiles as awards.
It had been a month since my last 5k, having spent January doing 10ks and a half. I have gotten back on the speedwork wagon, and have felt myself getting a little stronger. My goal in the 5k has been the sub 19 for awhile now, and I’ve been painfully close a few times. I thought this race might offer the chance, so I took 2 days rest leading up to the event. The ill advised 14 miles at the riverfront on Wednesday with a few at sub 7 pace probably aided me in that decision.
Ran the course as a warmup with the Code and Spence. Spence had suddenly dropped two sub 20’s in the past month and I thought this might his race to challenge me. This was based largely on the fact he’s 23, 50 lbs lighter and an ex-CC runner in high school. Lots of fast peeps at this race, most of the Strictly Running team was there along with a lot of the regulars – Amy, Laura (with Greg spectating, which in Bodourov Method terms means running 13 miles easy), Geary, Eric M, Team Ashton, JB and Barb. Mrs. Diesel was there and told me she had kept Heath at home to watch the kids, instead of him performing his vital duty as my race photographer. Where are the priorities, people??
Temps were nice, around 50 and clear, little bit of wind. Course is typical Shandon – a rectangle of flatness. Start at Bonham, right on Heyward all the way to Queen, a few blocks on Queen then right on Wheat all the way back to Bonham with the finish near the start at St Joseph’s Church.
The start of a 5k is always ridiculous, but with the speed of this field, it was total stampede-esque. Eric and Justin Bishop took off in what appeared to be a dead sprint, and a huge pack of 18 min 5kers formed a mob in front of me. Spence was a part of this mob, but I thought he was just being grandiose and setting himself for an epic bonk. Basically a quarter mile in I was left all alone, total no-mans land. Felt pretty strong in the early going, though it was hurting my fragile ego to see such a big pack ahead of me so quickly. I made an effort to try to stay within shouting range of the 18 pack, figuring I would at least go low 19’s and could maybe roadkill the stragglers. Rocky Soderberg had suggested I run by feel before the race instead of being obsessed with the Garmin, so I managed to avoid looking at it. First split was 6:05, about what I had hoped/thought. Then came the let down. I thought I was keeping up the pace but I often have trouble with mile 2 – mentally its tough because your not fresh like the start or know the end is near like mile 3. I figured my pace was suffering some, because the pack was gapping me pretty bad during this mile. The pack did start to bleed some off the back, but Spence was not one of them. Garmin split was 6:25, so it was a good thing I didnt look. I still felt strong at the mile 2 mark so I really tried to burn it at this point. I thought I might be close to sub 19, so I tried to focus on the two ahead of me – Kathryn Ashton and a kid named Evan that I had raced with a few times before. The 18 pack was probably too far ahead for me to make a dent in their lead, but I was gaining on the two stragglers. After the first half of the mile, I tried to really throw down a kick, hopefully high to mid 5’s by my guestimation. I caught up with Kathryn, which I knew meant she must be 1) deathly ill or 2) injured, but I’ll take what I can get. Passed her and was able to blast by Evan near the turn onto Bonham. Mile 3 and the end seem to far apart on this course, but I felt like I had run a really strong last mile (Garmin said 6:06) and hoped for the best on the last turn when you can see the clock. Unfortunately, I saw 19’s already. I gave it one last step on the gas and crossed in 19:19.
I’m OK with the time – its still one of my better races, and this course is probably a touch long (though certified – its always been at least 3.14+ by Garmin). Eric Ashton won the race handily on the mens side, though NY transplant Justin Bishop gave him a challenge for 2nd. Becraft finished 3rd. Kenzie Riddle won the women’s race, apparently with a vicious kick at the front of the “18 pack”, finishing in 18:42 and even outstepping JB at the line. Spence had a ridiculous 18:45, almost a full minute off his previous PR, so I guess he’s getting the high school cross country form back. He even beat the Code (18:50). Amy finished 2nd female at 18:56, and Kathryn finished 3rd at 19:40, about a minute off her usual times. Heather Brumbach was running her first race in months and crushed a 19:42, after trying to break 20 a number of times last year.
As I mentioned earlier this race keeps getting more and more brutal. My 19:19, 36 seconds faster than last year and 1:01 better than 2010, earned me 6th in AG and 15th overall – my worst finish by far. Derek Gomez, who is off to tri season now, ran 18:35 and got 3rd place. Crazy.