Honestly. Now, before I really get into it, this one run did not convince me that 5Ks don't suck. They do. You have to warm up before you start. Then you start out hard. You run hard. You finish hard. If you've done it right, you feel pain. And you can't breath. And you test your maximum heart rate. I much prefer 10Ks orHalf Marathons. At least you can settle into a rhythm and enjoy the scenery. A 5K seems like it's over before it even starts!
Okay - now that I got that out of my system, I really did have fun Saturday morning. Yes it was a 5K. Yes it sucked. And yes - I enjoyed the hell out of it! First off, there are some neat things about community races. And that is tough to find in a huge metropolitan area like Orange County. This one definitely had the feel. From the local Boy Scout Troop raising the American Flag , to local Olympian Sharon Day giving the welcome address. I would guess the turnout was somewhere around 800 to 1000 runners - a small event in this neck of the woods.
As far as the race itself - it was a combination of roads, paved trail, dirt trail and for the final half mile - a hill! Everything thrown in for good measure. Keeping with the small community feel, I even had a chance to flex my elbows a bit and lined up near the front of the mob. When the gun went off, I settled in at a 7:20 pace for a while before slowing it down just a little. The first mile wandered down the street, hung a left into Fairview Park, and ended up on dirt trails. Mile one was done at 7:58.
I was feeling nice and strong. I was breathing hard, but still felt relaxed. Then keeping with my plan, I settled into step with a couple of other runners. Just like Glover predicted, we used each other's energy to start pulling away and putting space between us and the runners behind. At this point we were still on dirt trails, and eventually ran into some runners that were obviously slowing. Passing was difficult, and we had to settle in behind them until we were able to make a pass a few hundred yards down the trail. Mile 2 pace - 8:30 - still on the 8:15 target.
The final mile was the challenge. There was a large hill that we were going to have to climb. The hill was formidable at this stage in the game (2.4 miles). I slowed down to keep from blowing up so close to the finish. For the first time in a race (any race) I was in pain. My quads were quickly turning to jello. My breathing was hard and labored. I made it up the hill and pushed harder for the next couple of tenths. At this point I was passing people. Wow. I was also seriously sucking air, but, was in the football stadium at Estancia High and past the 3 mile marker. I made the final turn on the track and was heartbroken. I could finally see the clock. 25:05. Crap. I really wanted to break 25 minutes. I'm sure that the air was out of the balloon at that point, but I finished up the race. 25:42. A 29 second improvement over my existing 5K PR! Best part - 8:16 pace. Talk about hitting my goal! Whew. I grabbed some bananas and water and started my warm down.
I ended the day by running the course one more time reflecting on the day. What went right? I executed the plan to perfection. Faster than goal mile 1. Tucked into a group mile 2. Let it all hang out at the back end of the race. What I need to improve on? Pushing just a tad harder during mile 2. And picking a 5K without a 100 foot hill in the last 3/4s mile of the race! At least I know that my 25:00 goal is well within reach. My stretch goal for the last year has been 24:00, and I can see making that in another year or two!
Finally, I need to report that I tried a new pair of racing shorts. I picked up a pair of 3" split shorts at Roadrunner Sports a couple of weeks ago. Man - you talk about comfortable! One of the things that really bugs me about most shorts is the way they bunch (yes Lindsay - me too). These shorts just don't do that! Plus, the split sides allow complete motion! Literally feels like there is nothing on.
Oh - miles? Ended up putting in a little over 7 miles yesterday (warm up, race and warm down). I'm out the door here shortly to put in 12 miles before it gets too hot - supposed to get into the low 90's today.