Past 5k Frustrations: The 5k has been a major source of frustration for me since I began running in June of 2010. It is my longest standing PR and has served as nagging reminder of a race that I would like to forget. In the 2010 Autism race, I went out way too fast, got a side stitch in the second mile, and had to stop running three different time over the last mile. The race was also the only time that I attempted to organize a charity team for a race, which was also a major failure. Somehow, I managed to Pull a 25:45 out of the wreckage, but it was bittersweet because the race was a train-wreck. Following that race, my running increased, but my overall weight and fitness were never really near the the level they need to be at to challenge that time. I was able to establish new times at other distances through pacing and increasing endurance, but the 5k is a different animal that requires you to maintain a sustained push throughout the race if you want to bring down your best times. I was never able to sustain the intensity of effort over 3.1 miles because I just wasn't in the right shape. Carrying an extra 10 to 15lbs around a 5k course is just a recipe for some sub par efforts that go like this: 25:59, 26:16, 26:19, 26:12, 26:10, 26:44, 26:37, 29:15 (ouch), 27:03. And, after so many flame-outs and busts, I really began to question if I would ever be able to challenge that old PR.
The Change: After running the Neuse River Run Half Marathon this October, I had to face up to the fact that I just wasn't going to become the runner or person that I wanted to be if I didn't change the way I ate and trained. Since that race, I have worked hard to better my eating habits and work harder at the gym. I have also been more accountable and not skipping workouts or avoided things like push ups and abs just because I hate them. The results have been fairly dramatic and visible in my clothes, the scales, and my energy level. The first indication that things were changing in my running came at the Ridgewood Turkey Trot where I shaved 39 seconds off of my 8k PR. Following that result, I decided that I would hit the gym even harder during the month of December, avoid all races, and do everything in my power to avoid holiday slacking and weight gain.
The Plan and the Change in Plans: My plan was to not enter another race until the Miami Half Marathon on January 29, workout or run six days a week, and focus on making healthy choices. I stuck to the plan until Noon on Friday January 6th, when the pull of a race became too strong and I decided to do a late registration for the Run for Young 5k that was being held the next day. I needed a race. I could feel it. And I was afraid the if I didn't run a warm up race that I would get over excited in Miami and red line the race.
The Race: I've run this course so many times in the past two years, and I always think that my knowledge of the stretch of Hillsborough street that runs from the NC State Bell tower to the Capital is going to work in my favor come race day. But, time and again it has crushed me. It looks so flat when you drive it, but anyone who runs it can tell you that stretch it is not at all flat at all and is a series of deceptive long and short inclines and declines that will sneak up on you if you not careful. The section of road between the Morgan Street traffic circle and the Bell Tower Traffic circle is my own personal running waste land.
Desiree Davila Can Do It! - Runner's World and it put me in the mood to go out and crush something. I decided that I would leave my i-pod at home and just focus on running this race. By the time I reached the starting line I felt dialed in and focused.
Mile 1: Along Edenton Street right along side the Capital to until it merges with Hillsborough. There would be a nice down hill portion followed by a small up hill. I got out well and was able to avoid having to weave around at the start. I started out a bit slow, but fell into the pace I wanted within the first quarter mile. I didn't let myself get out of control during the downhill and kept my pace from falling off on the up hill. I reached the mile mark right near near the Morgan Street Traffic circle feeling great. I went right through the water station without even thinking about getting water. Mile 1: 8:06
Mile 2 -- into the wasteland: As soon as a passed by the Morgan street traffic circle, I knew that this part of Hillsborough street would either make me or break me. If I let my pace drop off or my stride shorten up as I made my way up the long slow incline to the Oberlin Rd. and Bell Tower traffic circles another race would bite the dust in the wasteland. As I approached the YMCA, I saw my pace beginning to slow, but my legs still felt great, so I passed the people near me who I had been pacing myself off against. They were slowing down on the incline, but I didn't feel the need to slow down. As I approached the turn on to Oberlin Rd and headed toward the smaller traffic circle, my calves felt a little tight. Nothing to worry about, I was wearing a new pair of shoes with a slightly lower heel than my old pair, but everything was still going really well. As I rounded the Oberlin Circle and headed into the Hillsborough Circle, I knew that I had a great chance at a PR because I hit the 1.5 mile mark in right around 12 minutes. The way back through the my wasteland was like it had never been before. It felt AWESOME. The YMCA was playing Kenny Loggin Footloose out the window as I passed by, I picked up my pace just a bit more. Mile 2: 8:07
Mile 3 -- planning for the kick: This is how good I felt going into the third mile: I knew that unless I had a breakdown, I was getting a PR. The question was just how big of one. I shot straight through the water station, said thanks the the volunteers, but didn't touch the water. My legs felt better than they have in a long time, and my breathing was doing well. A woman had huffed her way past me just before the water station, and I could hear the stark contrast in our breathing and knew that I would catch her on climb up Edenton street. As I made my way down Hillsborough Street the incline leading to St. Mary's school was nothing, the stretch of road past Char-Grill and Snoopy's was cake. All I could think about was once I went down the hill at Edenton Street, I need to maintain until the end of the climb just before the Capital, then pick up my pace, and kick the last 10th of a mile. I stayed in control on the down side of the hill, passed the huffing lady mid way up the hill, then picked up pace on the second half of the hill. There was no tightness in my legs and I knew that this was going to be a good day. Mile 3: 8:05
The Result-- I open up my stride and went headlong for the finish. I wanted an new PR. And, I wanted it to be a big one. The Gun time was 25:20 and my chip time was an AWESOME 24:43! 62 seconds off of my old PR! I would like to thank Desiree Davila
for all of their assistance in this race!