As promised, here’s the recap of the 5K PR I ran a few weeks ago. My old PR of 28:11 was from almost 4 years ago, so this should be “easy”. Except the “running hard for 27ish minutes” part.
The Sweet Pea is an annual local race that starts and finishes downtown on Main Street. There’s a 10K as well as a 5K, with the 10K race starting 10 minutes before the 5K. Since it’s August, I was a bit concerned that it would be too warm for me despite the early (7:25) start time. But a cold front came through just in time to bring us 50-degree race weather. The only downside was that it also ramped up my allergies.
I left home relatively early, anticipating parking chaos; but actually there were plenty of open spots. I had more than enough time to find a bathroom and do a full warmup. Like, a warmup that even included running, which I don’t think I’ve ever done prior to a race before. I watched the 10K runners take off while I finished my warmup, then wandered towards the 5K start.
I’m sure I started off too fast, but I settled into what felt like a maintainable pace within a minute or so. We turned off Main Street to a side street after about a quarter mile, then from the street to a paved path that turns into a gravel trail. I run this path/trail often, and it’s a very slight uphill that I can’t really feel but I always notice a slight slowdown when I run intervals here. I thought the race day adrenaline might negate the hill effect, but no such luck. It was also still crowded by the time we got to trail. I felt like I kept getting stuck behind people who were going slightly slower than I wanted, but not slow enough that I could comfortably speed up and pass.
We passed the 1-mile marker shortly before the end of the trail. 9:01 – juuust barely PR pace. But I knew it was uphill, and the downhill was coming up.
We turned from the trail to the road, then made 4 or 5 more turns during this mile. I was starting to feel tired, plus we had moved from the shaded trail to a sunny area. It still wasn’t warm by any means, but the difference was noticeable. I don’t remember much about this mile except that we turned onto the street that goes downhill to Main shortly before the mile marker and I started to pick up the pace a little.
9:00 – still just barely hanging on to a PR.
This is probably my favorite street in town – it’s a wide street lined with huge trees and Victorian houses. And did I mention it’s downhill? I was able to hold my increased pace without too much trouble, even though I was also starting to feel the allergies more. I was momentarily demoralized about halfway through this mile when 3 guys blew by the rest of us like we were standing still. How are they doing that? Oh, duh, they’re the 10K winners.
Shortly before the 3-mile marker we turned back on to Main Street. I tried to pick up the pace again, but only managed a little faster. In retrospect, I think I tried to speed up too soon. There’s about a quarter mile left after the turn, which is too far to sprint! It didn’t matter though – I had picked up the pace plenty during the last mile.
Mile 3 8:15, last 0.1 41 seconds (7:50 pace).
Official finish time: 27:07. (This doesn’t compute with my mile splits because there’s only a timing mat at the finish and I didn’t start my watch right when the race started.)
Almost as soon as I finished the race, I thought I could have gone faster. (I think this after almost every road race, which is why trail running good for me.) It’s a reasonable assumption, though; I only trained for this race for 4 weeks. I ran the first half pretty conservatively because my “peak” workout was 4x800m at race pace, and I wasn’t confident that I could sustain that pace for more than 2 miles. In the final stretch, I felt like I was pushing harder but somehow not moving any faster. I don’t know if that’s because I had truly run as hard as I could for the first 3 miles, or if my legs were dead because they’re not used to running that hard for that long, or if my allergies caught up to me. Or some combination. I usually have a good finishing kick, but that’s the only part of my race that didn’t go well today.
What I’m saying is, this PR was set to be broken. But honestly, where’s the fun in finishing a race and thinking “that was my absolute limit, there’s no way I will ever run faster than that”?