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
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|
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.
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.
5K race done. Missed a PR by about 9 seconds, but still sub-24 minutes. After yesterday, I’ll take it. Running’s a messed up sport.— Tai Fung (@tai_fung) May 4, 2014
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. :(