Sunday, October 28, 2007

Victory is Mine!!!....figuratively speaking, that is

Today I took my third shot at going sub-20 in the 5K. I've run several 5Ks in the past few years, but first started thinking I could break 20 minutes about a year ago and took my first shot at a Turkey Trot last November, finishing in 20:16, which was a big PR but left me wanting sub-20 even more. A second attempt came this past June when I charged out and had a 6 second cushion at the turnaround but then saw that cushion literally melt in the 100 degree heat during the second half. I finished in a disappointing 20:34.

So, today I looked to get the sub-20 monkey off my back at the Halloween Sock Hop 5K (they give out socks instead of shirts) in Rapid City. I've come to realize that I don't have a freakin clue how to train for a 5K, nor do I really care. Almost all of my 5Ks have been run either as part of a marathon training plan or during marathon recovery and this one was no exception, coming three weeks after the Monumental Challenge marathon. I know that my training was far from ideal; in the two weeks preceding the race I ran 13 straight days, totaling 115 miles, none of which included any speedwork. I did "taper" by running an easy 5 miles on Friday and Saturday.
Caid has the Pre-race Stance Down

I ran this event last year, pushing both my kids in the stroller, so I was familiar with the course. It's fairly flat, with a few very short hills. The route itself loops around a city park. I warmed up for this year's race by running the kids' 1K with my 3 year old. He finished in 7:XX, but could have been faster if we wouldn't have taken time to look at the ducks, the water, the playground equipment, the orange cones marking the course, and to show me how he can run and jump at the same time. I guess we need to work on his focus. He had a blast, and is especially excited about the Spiderman socks he got, which he swears helped him run fast and so now he's going to wear them forever and ever. Caiden Sprinting to the Finish

Finally it was time to line up for the 5K. This was the most nervous I've been for a race in a long time. There was a slight breeze, but the temperature was about 70, which is higher than I would like, but better than 100, I guess. I lined up in the front, knowing I would be close to top 10 if I did indeed go sub-20. Just before the start I glanced to my left and saw a local runner named Wally, who I have race several times and lost to several times. I knew that Wally ran 5Ks consistently in the 19:30-20:00 range, so I told myself that I either had to stay ahead of him, or cling to him like stink on poo. There was a Ready, Set, Go! and we were off.

I immediately took off with a group of the top 15 or so runners. Wally was behind me, which was good but I wondered how long it would stay that way. I was immediately uncomfortable and seriously doubting I would be able to keep up this pace, so I knew that I had the pace just about right. As we made a loop around the park I jockeyed for position with a couple of junior high looking kids, but they eventually pulled away. Normally, my ego would be shot, but I frankly didn't give a damn if it resulted in a sub-20. After the loop, we headed out on an out and back where I maintained position, but could hear someone close behind. I suspected it was Wally and at the turnaround, I was proven correct; he was right on my tail. My first half split was 9:53, so 7 seconds of cushion. I was glad to see something under 10, but also wishing the cushion was bigger given how not good I felt. For the second half of the race we backtracked the first half. I passed one guy, who turned out to be in my age group, just after the turnaround and that was it; the field was pretty spread out by that time. I could hear Wally behind me for awhile, but by the time we got back to the final 1K loop, I couldn't hear him anymore....or maybe my ragged breath and thumping heart were just covering the sounds of his footsteps. With about 500m to go, I glanced at my watch and saw 18:XX and knew I had to pick it up. As I came around the last turn onto the final straightaway, I took another peek at the watch and saw 19:19. Now or never, damn it! I gave it what little more kick I had left and surged across the line in 19:46. Sub-20 is mine!! I would like to say that it felt triumphant, glorious, spectacular, or something similarly great, but really I just grabbed my popsicle stick (which declared that I had taken 11th overall) and then wondered if I was going to pass out or not. Turns out, not, but it seemed like a toss up there for a few seconds. Wally finished not too far behind me and congratulated me on setting a good pace, which made me almost feel better than the sub-20. I wonder if he has any clue how many races I've spent trying to chase him down?

1K to Go?? Son of a #*^%$!!!

I ended up with a 1 second negative split and my time was good for 11th overall, as I already mentioned, and I got 2nd in my AG (actually 3rd, but they don't double up on awards and the overall winner was in my AG). So, the sub-20 demon has been vanquished and I can concentrate on loftier goals (BQ) now. Thanks for reading and thanks for all the support!

1 comment:

jen said...

Chris!! Congrats on the SMOKIN fast 5k. Beautiful PR and AG place. And you beat Wally!! Great job out there, you really earned it.

Great job to your son too, he sounds like a cutie! :)