Today I ran the Firecracker 5k in Reston Virginia.
I signed up for this race kind of on a lark a few weeks ago. I decided it would be good to run a few races for "fun". I enjoy racing, the excitement, the atmosphere, the people, the whole thing.
I like this race because it's close to my house, well organized, and gets a good turnout. The course is "okay". It's the same course I get my PR on (18:41 in March in 45F weather). The last half mile is all uphill, after the first 2 miles are up and down. I don't think there's one flat spot on the whole course, but that's usual for Northern Virginia races that are not on trails or paths.
It's been 8 days since my first half marathon. The day after the "half" I started regretting signing up for a 5k one week later. My legs were thrashed for a couple days, and I tried to convince myself all week that I'm recovering, and I think I have been, but not completely.
Recently Galen Rupp was interviewed about competing in the 10k and marathon in the upcoming summer Olympics. Galen said "He thinks he can do it because the 10k is 8 days before the marathon, if the order were reverse he wouldn't be able to do it". Yesterday, thinking about the race today I was kind of wishing the order of my half marathon and 5k were reversed. (Notice how I compare my races to the Olympics and arguable the fastest American 10k and marathon runner right now...hilarious). And I'm 49, so I've been told I should allow more time for recovery than the younger "whipper snappers" around me.
Okay kids, I have some advice for you. #1. Stay in school. #2. Don't do drugs. #3. Don't try to run a 5k eight days after a half marathon - and expect to do well.
I set my alarm for 5:30, immediately had my usual pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, milk, and coffee. Then went for a half mile run in my neighborhood to wake up, get my legs and stomach moving, "processed" stomach, and left the house at 6:30. My beautiful wife got up early this morning and went with me...which is always nice. My personal assistant, I put all my race associated crap in a backpack which she will carry for me, and have ready at the finish line. I always get a big welcome from her when the race is over too...all great stuff. Plus, after the race, when I'm exhausted I have a driver to get me home.
Arrived at the race and parked around 7:15. Plenty of time to do my 2 mile warm-up and 4 strides, say hello to a few folks I know, line up and be ready to go by 8:00 start. I already had my bib so I had no stress.
This race had a BIG turnout, about 2,000 people. Lotsa patriotic stuff, veterans, flags, etc. For that alone, I'm glad I was there. Like last week, I saw a few veterans running with prosthesis legs, very motivating and emotional for me.
The temp this morning was about 67F and 90% humidity. Rain was threatening the whole time, but it never actually rained. The clouds did keep the temp down, so that helped.
I really didn't know how much to adjust my pace based on the temps and how I was feeling....
So, how did it go?
Mile 1: 5:57. And we're off! I did my best not go out too fast and stay around 6:00 pace. I usually go out too fast in the first half mile. 6:00 pace puts me on my PR pace, I just about got it right without checking my watch. There were quite a few runners in front of me and I fought off the urge to try and catch them.
Mile 2: 6:03: Soon after mile 1 I slowed a little, and got into a group of 5 other runners and started to get "kind of" comfortable, at least I had others to run behind which always helps me. Around the end of mile 2, I was starting to REALLY feel the effort....but I went through 2 miles in EXACTLY 12:00, so that was good.
Last 1.1 in 6:35 pace: A little after mile 2 marker my right show was feeling loose, and then untied. Damn it! It was double knotted too. Damn it! So, I had to pull aside and re-tie my shoe and lost contact with the group I was running with, I was already feeling like they were going to drop me, and now that was that. I kind of hit the wall at this point too, my legs were dead, I suffered up the hill that last half mile to the finish.
Overall time: 19:15. Oh well. I think I lost about 5 seconds with my untied shoe. But really, today wasn't going to be a good day. My legs never felt "fresh" and I was kidding myself going out in 6:00 pace the first two miles. I was bound to crash.
39th overall, 4th in my age group by 6 seconds, 3rd place received a medal. "Double terds!"
The Good: Got in a good 5k effort for 2 miles. Learned about racing two weeks in a row. Spent some time with my wife. Got to celebrate 4th of July with some true heroes.
The Bad: I wasn't ready for this race. I've been dead all week.
The Ugly: I "feel" like I didn't give a full effort today. I think emotionally I stopped trying the last half mile. I don't feel good about that.....even more than the physical letdown. I'm going to find the silver lining and say I leaned something from that too.
Next race - 20k on August 21. "Onward and upward".