Saturday, October 29, 2011

Spooktacular 5k

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  The Spooktacular 5k is the funnest 5k race in the area. It is a great combination of festive and fast. Sarah, the race director, does all the things that runners like including accurate timing, a fast course, standard race amenities, fast crowd, and very cool awards. But when you add to that the costume contest and the Thriller dance show before the race, she does some cool and fun things that normal people like. If you haven't run this event, you should.

My numbers... 17:46 for a PR and another sub-18. That was good enough for 14th (I think) overall and 2nd in the 36-42 (unusual, I know) age group.

This was my circled race for the fall. I knew I couldn't get in good marathon shape in time to do a BQ-20 for Boston 2012. So, I decided to focus my training around the 5k. I've never thought about racing short distances before. I have to say that I have found this type of running to be quite fun! I'm probably better at the 5k distance than any other that I've run, but I'm not good enough at any distance to do anything but have fun with it. So, the plan was to get in peak 5k shape for Spook, then shift my focus for an early 2012 marathon.

Late Again
I have to break this cycle that I've gotten into of showing up just before race start. I did not have time to get in a proper warm up again today. I woke up in plenty of time, but by the time I read Facebook and drank my coffee, time just slipped away and I was late leaving the house. And I had stomach problems again this morning. I don't know if it's pre-race anxiety or something in my pre-race diet, but this is happening too often and I need to fix it. I was barely able to get my number pinned on and run 1.5 miles before the start.

The First Mile
I really didn't know what to do with this race. The temperature was great for running. The crowd was fast. The course was fast. What am I capable of? Sub-18 for sure, but by how much? I had grand thoughts of hanging onto Donald Bowman or George DeWitt's shoulder for as long as I could. Both of those guys are much faster and tougher than I am. They're heroes to me. They're out of my league, and they know it and I know it. I tried that for about the first half mile. I knew that wasn't sustainable for me, so I settled down a bit.

I could see Marty Clarke and Jon Elmore up ahead. I had to surge just a bit to catch them. I didn't expect to beat them, but I wasn't going to let them go this early. Again, both of those guys are well ahead of me. Marty is a guy that I have never beaten. And I know that Jon's best is better than my best. I was about a second behind them at the 1 mile mark which I hit at 5:33. That is the fastest mile I've ever run by 5 seconds!

Mile 2
After the 1 mile mark, I decided to make a move. I surged a bit and passed Marty and Jon just after the turn on White Street. Jon came along and passed me back as we ran on Clinton Avenue towards the downtown area. I hung on to him for the rest of the second mile and even passed him after the turn on Holmes Avenue. I had no idea how close Marty was, but I figured he was near. Jon passed me back on the hill up to the courthouse area just before the 2 mile marker. My watch lapped early, and had us running this mile in 5:41.

The Finish
There is a long downhill stretch on Madison Street. I made my move on Jon here. I wanted badly to stay ahead. I felt like I was pushing the pace, but my watch was showing a 5:55 pace, even downhill. My legs were dying. They just weren't kicking like I wanted them to. But I could still feel that I was opening a gap between Jon and me. Again, I had no idea where Marty was, but I figured he was very close. I wasn't about to look.

My watch was showing a lap pace of 5:54 for the third mile. I was so disappointed in that! So, I just decided that I had to dig deep and push to the finish. I felt like I was going to puke. My instantaneous pace was showing 5:25, so I figured I'd try to hold that to the finish. I didn't quite do that, probably running a 5:30 pace or so for the last quarter of the third mile, but I was sure giving all I had. My watch lapped early again at 5:49. The final stretch showed 0.13 and it took me 44 seconds to cover it. That's about a 5:28 pace. I was able to hold off both Jon and Marty, but not by much. They were both less than 5 seconds behind me!
Jon just over my right shoulder!

Post Race
You know you had a good race when people ask you, "What have you been doing in your training?" at the end. Well, my dirty little secret is that I've been relatively focused on the 5k distance for about 10 weeks now. Most people just run 5ks to see where they are while they're training for other stuff. Many of the folks I finished ahead of today would crush me in a 10k or 15k (see what Marty did a few weeks ago at Monte Sano 15k) or a half marathon. I'm not sure I could run a 3:15 marathon right now. This is the best I can do in a 5k. Now, I'm shifting my focus to a March 3, 2012 marathon. I'll see what I can do there. 2:55 is the goal for a BQ-20 early entry for 2013.


Anonymous said...

Great job!!! I ran the Guntersville Pink Pumpkin 5K this morning. It was good fun but there was no Thriller dance before the race. Had I only known...LOL. Your run was terrific!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations! You killed it. Impressive drop in times recently. Your hard work paid off. With the mileage you maintain, I bet you would be in better shape for a long race than you are giving yourself credit for. Thanks for the writeup!


Dana said...

GREAT JOB Eric!!! I wish I could have been there--looks like a great race. I have to agree with Tim from Atlanta...I think you don't give yourself enough credit. YOU can make your March just have to "behave in accordance to a decision previously made" I'll just go ahead and put it out there--I've decided to run a sub 25 in a Thanksgiving race!! now I just need to do it, right? :D