Sunday, May 04, 2014

Public Service Employees 5K Race Report

I don't over-race.  I just don't.  I think it's counter-productive to training when you have one or more major races on the horizon.  And yet, I found myself signed up to run a race for the third time in four weekends.  The reason for this was that it struck me that there was going to be a 5K race just minutes from home, as part of the Public Service Recognition week for Federal Employees.  As I've stated before, I am an attorney with the Feds when I'm not floating around with this online persona, and there were a lot of positives to this race.

Plus one other:  I really wanted to run the Herndon 5K the NEXT week (WTF dude -- FOUR races in five weekends?).

Seriously, don't over-race, ok?!

First off, I still needed to gauge my fitness, or at least my aptitude for speed after the winter.  The GW Parkway only proved that I'd lost a lot of ground, and the Backyard Burn was a whole different ballgame (one played with bugs).

Next, in my defense, I wasn't sure about the next week's 5K in Herndon.  I was just back into racing, and was still heavier a fatass.  But I was a vain fatass.

A year ago, I'd PR'd my 5K distance, running about a 7:40 pace to finish faster than 23:50.  A little part of me wanted to see if I could beat that.  The course in Herndon last year was HILLY.  This course would be flat and fast.

So, the prospect of once again being able to sleep late, take a short drive to Anacostia park, and run a 5K was pretty tempting.  I signed up, and chose to do packet pick-up on race day.  

I took a quick read of the course, which was just a regular out-n-back deal.  The course basically forms a "lasso" shape, and you'll note that miles 1 and 2 are very close to each other:

Public Service Employees Recognition Week 5K Course Map
You start at the "Play" symbol, run out (about 1.5 miles, turn around and run back, taking a right turn to complete the "lasso loop."  Flat course, straightforward course.  I did note a fairly robust headwind from roughly the start to the 1.5ish mile marker, but this course just SEEMED like it would produce fast times.

There were a LOT more people at this race than I thought would be here.  Any chance of sneaking onto the podium (like I had last year at a different 5K, placing 2nd AG) was DEFINITELY out the window.  But no matter.  Time to run:

Mile 0-1 ("Headwind?  Well that's just peachy.  Because I hate peaches.")

This was actually a not great start for me for a few reasons.  First of all, we just kind of . . . went.  There was a bit of a, "Ok, not yet, not yet GO!" kind of start and people had seeded themselves HORRIBLY.  There was a definite group of folks who walked into the "corral" (basically, the starting area) and took up a spot.  So I had to navigate early on.

It was about point 2 of a mile when I realized my Garmin was set to auto-lap.  That's a big no-no on race day.  I manually lap mile splits because I do pore over my numbers post-race, and try to figure out what went right/wrong.  So I began this awful dance of trying to run under 8 minutes a mile while taking off my Garmin 610, selecting the menu, setting, etc. etc. and switching it to manually lap.

There was a pretty good headwind here, which did a nice job of keeping me at a relatively slow pace for a 5K.  I needed to do that at the start, since I really wanted to do better at aiming for negative splits.

Mile 1-2 ("Damn, that's a heckuva push, wind.")

I really took advantage of a few things here.  First, I chose a straight line and stuck to it.  I really minimized weaving.  Next, I eschewed water at the aid station, and made a sharp cut while staying at a good cadence.  Finally, I remembered the headwind, and did my best to make up time.  My 5K PR would require a 7:40 pace, and after 2 miles I was actually (slightly) ahead of that pace.

Holy crap. 

Mile 2-3 ("Woo hoo!  I'm gonna do it!  But don't pass that guy")

This mile was still cooking, but as I made time, I became aware of a solitary guy ahead of me (I finished in the top 50 people, and we were quite spread out).  He looked like a total badass.  Short, but compact.  Very efficient stride.  He was moving along, but I was closing on him.  It wasn't rapid, but it was steady.  Damn.

Once again, I'd lost my "killer instinct," just like at the BYB race.  I just kind of let up.

Granted, I was tired.  My brain was pleading with me to walk, but I didn't.  Meanwhile, I didn't push.  I could see the finish in the distance, and knew I could kick, but it would either make me close on him quickly, as if I were trying to pass him, or I would pass him, which struck me as possibly looking like I was trying to show off.

So, once again, I eased up.  Just a touch.

As I headed for the final stretch, I saw none other than the Nationals' Racing President Teddy, there with a handler.  Immediately, I regretted not wearing my standard "race uniform" of my signature Curly W tech shirt.  Bah.  I called out to Teddy as I passed, and finished.

I'd missed a PR by about 8-9 seconds.  Still a sub-24 minute 5K.  I'd had a HORRIBLE run the day before, so this was all good news.  Except for, you know, not running my best at the end.  I ran to my car, grabbed my phone, and had this pic snapped:

Finally, I made one other decision:  I would NOT run the Herndon 5K race the next weekend.  I wasn't ready.  The course was far too hilly, and on such a flat course like this, I'd missed a PR.  So that seemed settled (stay tuned).

Race by the numbers:

Overall:  Top 15% (wow!)

Sex:  Top 27% (woo-hoo!)

Division:  Top 46% (WHAT THE HELL OLD GUYS?!?!?!)

Stuff I learned:

1.  Negative splits equal a successful race.
2.  Slowly, surely, I was coming back to being in race shape.
3.  Don't let up at the end.  Nobody would for you either.
4.  My age division will seriously bust up your ego.  :( 

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