This is a very good race. The weather was awesome and the course is very flat and fast. This is a no excuses PR course. I may pick it as my next one to aim for a 5k breakthrough. Thanks to Jon Elmore for scoring the race today and for keeping the running scene going in Decatur. He gives back a lot!
I ran 18:17 for 3rd overall and first in the 35-39 age group.
Up front, I'll just say that it wasn't a good day for me. I had a long stressful week at work and just a garbage diet. I barely scraped in 80% of my planned miles. Add to that some lingering personal battles (Ugh, will these ever go away?), and I knew that I had no real chance for a good race on Saturday. I pretty much had 10 or so nights of tossing and turning instead of sleeping. And I feel a twinge of a chest cold coming on.
But I signed up anyway. It's a 5k. Every runner should just run them once in a while. Pin on a number, go, and have fun. I haven't run a road race since Thanksgiving, so I needed to turn the legs over. I also wanted to see how much 5k speed, if any, I had lost from focusing on marathon training.
I warmed up a bit with Brandon York, and when we got to the starting line, I knew that he would win the race by a LONG shot. Could I notch a second place finish today? I saw a few kids, but none of them looked like cross country studs. I figured I'd be able to tell if any of them were a threat within a half mile. And I saw one other guy wearing a sleeveless shirt and Nike Lunaracers. Yeah, I need to watch out for him. He's dressed just right for the weather, and those are racing flats. This isn't his first 5k, and he is no doubt a sub-20 guy. Otherwise, I think I have this.
When we started, Brandon was way out front as expected. A kid hung in second for about 200 yards but quickly fell back. The guy in the Lunaracers (I met him later and learned that he is Trent Dean.) was just ahead of me. So, there's the top three. About a half mile in, Brandon had a good 25 second lead on us, so I asked Trent if he was going to go after him. He laughed and said I could try if I wanted to. We ran stride for stride until about 0.75 miles in, and I made a move toward the lead because I wanted to be running a little faster than the pace he was setting. I wish I had done that earlier because this first mile was too slow at 5:47.
He hung with me for most of the first half of the race. Just before the 2 mile marker, I noticed that I had a good 10-15 second lead on him. I knew that to give up second place, I would have to come back to him or make some mistake. As we passed the aid station just past the 2 mile marker, I was judging by the sounds of the cheers and figured that my lead was about the same, maybe a little more. Mile 2 was 5:44. It really felt faster than that, so I was a little worried that I was losing steam and would give up some of my lead. But I would have to run a 5:50 and he would have to run a 5:40 for this to even be close on the last 0.1. I'd have to give him some time.
I cruised in the 3rd mile, wishing for the end. I could feel him gaining on me, and the effort to maintain my pace was getting more and more difficult. But I didn't give him much because I ran that 3rd mile in 5:46.
How on earth did I come in 3rd, then? Oh, he gained on me in the last mile, but I had what should have been an insurmountable lead. Until I missed the final turn. Ugh. He didn't miss it, but he did yell at me and I turned around, but it was too late to catch him. The next runner was nowhere in sight, and I had no chance to catch him or to break 18 minutes. So, I just coasted in. He ran 18:10 or so and I ran 18:17. It's nobody's fault but mine that I missed that turn, but it is frustrating as can be.
After the race, I congratulated Trent and ran a few miles with him. He is a super nice guy and he's working hard to break 18. Today was almost his day. I wish he had stayed with me the whole race, and he said the same. We would have broken 18 working together, I'm sure.
I've gotta stop missing turns in races.