First, the numbers. I ran an 18:29 which is a PR by 22 seconds. That was good enough for 24th overall and 2nd in the 35-39 age group. Congratulations to Fleet Feet team mate Brandon York for out-dueling perennial winner Josh Whitehead for the overall win in a very swift 15:19. There was a very fast crowd up front with the top 19 finishers under 18 minutes. The overall results are at the HTC website.
Yet again, I wasn't sure I'd run this race. I still have bruised confidence and legs that are slow to turn over. The last workout on the track humbled (or is the word humiliated?) me. But I really needed a good 5k fitness test, so I signed up. Late.
This race is really too cool. Costumes are encouraged, so you will laugh. And there are awards for the best costumes. Cool awards, too. The start of the race is preceded by a rendition of Thriller complete with dancing zombies. Really, you should run this race. Also, this race draws a FAST crowd. So, if you just want to see the costumes and really compete, you can do that, too. Fun and competitive. Nice.
It was very cool with temps in the mid 30s and no wind. PERFECT running weather. I warmed up with Sean and Jon from Fleet Feet on the course. It wasn't a good sign that I was already feeling nauseous. I had great weather, but I wasn't confident and I didn't feel well.
I opted for a long sleeve Nike base layer, Fleet Feet sleeveless shirt, shorts, beanie, and gloves. Also, this was my first race in my Nike Lunaracer2 shoes. I REALLY liked racing in those shoes. They just stay out of my way and let me run fast.
After Vincent Price was finished rapping and laughing and a few announcements, the race started right on time. That's impressive given all the pre-race festivities.
I was scoping out the competition, looking for people in my age group, knowing that the front would be way ahead of me. Shane O'Neill was running with his son, so who else? Rob Youngren. Sometimes Rob runs hard and sometimes he doesn't. This day, he ran hard and I had no chance to touch his sub 17. I figured I should be 2nd in my age group. Now that's out of the way, how fast can I run?
The start was VERY crowded. There were tons of young runners who started WAY too fast. It was just absolutely packed. It took a good half mile for it to thin out at all. Even the front runners had to weave and bob through the crowd. After maybe 3/4 of a mile, I had passed a dozen or so teenagers and it seemed that we had settled into our places.
I tried something different for this race. I barely looked at my watch. I wanted to have it for log purposes, but I wanted to run based on how 5k pace feels. Oh, I definitely paid attention to the split callers, but I didn't look at my watch very much at all.
Mile 1... Mike called out 5:42, but I think it was slower than that. Post-race I learned that my auto-lap on the watch clocked it at 5:47.
Just ahead of me after the turn on Clinton was a teenage boy, then Caitlin Morris and a group of 3 teenage boys. I could tell that the first teenager was struggling a bit, so I passed him and he made no attempt to hang close. For the rest of the race, I stayed close behind the group of Caitlin + 3.
I thought several times about making a move and passing. I probably should have. I at least should have joined the group. I just didn't. I have no idea why not, just not. It's probably because I was already running pretty hard!
The only noticeable climb on this course is between 1.5 and 2 miles. Here, I lost the group ahead. As we were climbing up toward the courthouse, I just didn't (couldn't?) keep up with them. They passed the two mile mark and crested the hill with some distance that I didn't know if I could make up. I MUST work on hills. The distance at the two mile split was enough that I didn't hear their split, but I heard mine. There was probably 15-20 seconds difference. Randy said 11:44. Post race, my watch said 11:52.
Going down the hill, I closed the gap considerably. Now, there couldn't have been any more than 5-6 seconds between me and the group ahead. Again, why did I not continue the move? Why did I not hold that pace? The course is downhill to the finish except for the bridge by the Embassy Suites. I fancy myself a better than average downhill runner. Why didn't I run faster? Sure, I was running hard and I was tired of that pace, but I wasn't hurting that bad. I have no idea why I don't run harder in races. Really, I don't.
Approaching the 3 mile marker, I noticed that the teenagers ahead had a final kick. Caitlin didn't give them chase. I didn't want to be the guy who sprints past a lady at the finish line (yeah, that's it, chivalry and all), so I didn't try to close the gap either. Also, there was nobody within striking distance behind me, so I just maintained pace the rest of the way in. Yeah, it's a weak way to finish, I know.
It was a PR and a fun race, but as always, I know I could have done better. It's a tired refrain. I say it after every race. When will I really let it go in a race?