First, a BIG thanks to Sarah and Cheryl, Fleet Feet of Huntsville, and all the volunteers who made today's race successful and so much fun! Just to name a few, thanks Carl, Whitney, Madelyn, Eric, Laura, Jane, and others that I'm forgetting.
I ran the 5k in 18:53 for a 6:05 average pace. That was good enough for 15th overall (of 553) and 2nd in the 35-39 age group. I'll link to results when they're available. Of course, Josh Whitehead won. He did it near 16 flat with nobody pushing him. Candace Jacobs was the women's winner in 18:17.
This morning was a great morning for a race! The course is flat and fast. The weather was great, 48F with just a little rain before the start, but it stopped before the start. Sarah and Cheryl did a great job putting this event together. I think the participation was significantly beyond their expectations. The atmosphere was festive and the feel of the race was less competitive than other races.
Today, Mark and I reversed roles a little. I was actually early! That's pretty out of character for me. We spun our wheels a little trying to find each other and get packets picked up in the crowd. We got our warm up started at about 7:35 with just enough time to warm up and be ready for the start of the race. We did about a 2.5 mile warm up (mostly on the course) with some pickups at the end.
We timed our arrival to the start line almost perfectly. We saw some friends on our way to the line and chatted a little and enjoyed a live rendition of the Thriller video. It was enjoyable!
The start was packed. I knew it would be and I knew that I would have to start quickly to avoid those who start too quickly and then fall off. We ran the first quarter mile or so at about a 5:45 or so pace. After passing a several huffer and puffers, I backed off from that early pace to recover a bit and then settled into my race pace. Mark was with me the whole way. One of my main goals today was not to get beat by someone in a ridiculous costume. I passed almost all of the costumes that I saw early in mile 1. We hit the split in 6:05. That was a little slower than I was hoping for, but still easily on pace, especially considering that it is the only uphill mile.
Mark asked me how I felt, and I replied, "Not good enough to talk!" I really knew that today was my last opportunity to break 19 this year. I may not have another opportunity until April. I didn't want the opportunity to slip, and 6:05 is not a conversational pace for me! I hope I wasn't rude. I was glad to have a training partner nearby.
I felt really good after the one mile split. I wanted to break 6:00 in the first mile, but that just didn't happen. The good part is that I had LOTS of energy. It's not the best strategy to negative split a 5k, but I decided to drop the pace as much as I could. I had several runners ahead to pick off, and just ran them down one by one. I probably passed 5 people There was one costume ahead of me. I think he may have been a gladiator or Roman soldier or something. It wasn't a ridiculous costume, but I wanted to catch him nonetheless.
There is a mild uphill at the end of mile 2, so I powered up it. Mark fell off the pace just a little up this hill, but still ran strong. My watch beeped a little early and clocked a 6:01 2nd mile. They called 12:11 as I passed the split marker, making it more like 6:06. Still on pace to break 19 with a downhill mile to go!
There were 3 people left in striking distance during mile 3. I regret that I didn't finish ahead of any of them. Oh I closed the gap significantly, and passed one, a young 17 year old. Again, I was reminded that a 17 year old's fast is faster than my fast, and he passed me back in the last 100m. It wasn't a matter of willingness to hurt; I was giving it all I had. He was just faster. It was like a linebacker trying to chase a receiver (OK, neither of us are that fast, but I'm making an analogy here). The only way I could have held him off would have been to pass him earlier and build a bigger lead going into the last stretch. I have a lot to learn about racing! Today, though, I was mainly racing the clock. Soon, I'll start racing the competitors, but today wasn't that day.
According to my watch, I ran 6:01 and 0:42 (0.14 by my watch) to finish. There was nobody calling the 3rd split. I think my mileage payed off some today. I was ready to slow down because I was pouring it on during the last 0.1, but I still had some more 6:05 effort in me. I think that's why I closed the gap on that group of 3. If I remember correctly, there was only 6 seconds difference between me and the leader of that group I was chasing. There were probably 15 or so seconds at the 2 mile split.
That's 18:53. That's a PR! I'm happy with the performance! I met my goal of sub 19, but I can't help believing that I could have run faster today. It hurt, no doubt, but I could have and should have run a faster first mile. I'm learning.
I saw lots of friends congratulating me at the finish. That was nice! Thanks! Eric Fritz gave me a big high 5 because he knew how badly I wanted to break 19. Carl took a break to come congratulate me in the finishing chute. He and I have spent a good bit of time talking about breaking 19 on our Sunday morning runs. Thanks Carl! He definitely could break 19 on this course.
Then, I ran back to pick up Jeff and finish the race with him. I'm VERY proud of the dedication he's shown! He's been on the track 5 or 6 days a week lately. He's just making no excuses and getting the miles done. KUDOS JEFF!! Congrats on your first race!!! Nice job!!
Congrats to Olivia for running her first race! Great job!
I also saw Ragnar teammates Angie and Elle along with Ragnar driver Bruce. Nice job! Nice to see y'all!
I also got to meet a blog follower, Byron. Congrats on meeting your goal today, Byron!
And the costumes...