Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hermosa 5000 Race Report

I had a little 5K this weekend. About 200 people showed up for this local fun race at the beach. To give you a sense of place, here is what it looked like at the main intersection.41914 118
We got to run up and down the bike path where I do most of my daily runs. Run past volleyballers and exercisers and dog-walkers. The course is below. We start at the short little stub there and make a hard left turn after 50 yards. Then it is out for 1/2 mile, u-turn, about 1.3 miles up, u-turn, back to the intersection, and then out on the water for 1/2 mile!
There is actually a pier there, which helps, except it is a 20 foot hill right when you would rather not see one. Out to the end of the pier, and then scream back downhill to the finish. It's a great course. My house is in the bottom right corner of that map, so it was a nice mile warmup jog to the start line.

My goal for this one was sub-21, or about 6:45 pace. I also had my friendly rival, Jim, in the race. He always goes out fast, and sometimes I catch him, and sometimes I don't. So another goal was to catch him. Last month I couldn't.

I also ran into the girl that I met on Tuesday's run, Julia. She was also trying to break 21, and I knew she was fast, so yeah, I kinda wanted to beat her too. Plenty of motivation in this one!

As usual, I felt like in my warmup before the race. Legs sluggish, trouble breathing. But, whatever, time to run.

Had to fight through the normal assortment of kids at the start, and we immediately turned on to the bikepath. But it wasn't too crowded.

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Felt good. Jim and Julia were both ahead of me already. First Garmin pace check was in the 6:30s. A little fast but not bad. I tried to stay relaxed.

By the 1/2 mile turnaround I was still in the 6:30s, but felt OK. Hell, felt pretty strong actually, and was passing the fast starters and the kids. About 3/4 mile I passed Julia which gave me a little adrenaline. But soon I had to ease back. Too early to push that hard. Went through mile 1 just before the intersection in 6:33.

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Jim was about 15-20 yards ahead, but I was staying even or slowly catching him. So I stuck with that pace and hoped to get him by mile 2. Mile 2 pace was showing 6:40's and I felt OK. I started to think I could hold this and get that sub-21 with ease! For a minute I tried to calculate what I might be able to get. Sub 20:30? Better?

But I was starting to hurt. Long way to go yet. As I neared the 2nd turnaround, I was getting closer to Jim. As I got closer, it became easier to push a little harder and go by him, which I did before the turnaround. But right after the turn he surged and went by me! I figured it was the competitor in him, but I knew from running him down that I should be able to wear him down over the next mile. Sure enough, within a minute or so, I went by him again. But that competition sure helps make it easy to keep pushing! Went through mile 2 in 6:40.

At this point I had no one ahead of me to chase. And the lactic acid was starting to lock up my legs. Despair entered my soul, and the grimace face came on board. Holding this pace for another mile sounded like torture. The pier still seemed far away. But I knew if I held strong I could get a good time, so I kept plugging. First pace check in mile 3 said 6:58! I thought maybe it was a satellite glitch, but later checks proved that no, I was fading. What felt like the same effort (or more) was now only good enough for 6:55s. Yet simple math told me I could still make it if I just kept it under 7.

Luckily everyone else was hurting too, as only one guy passed me. Finally I made it to the pier, and with 1/2 mile to go, I knew I just had to get up that pier and get to the end, and then adrenaline would carry me to the finish. Here I am making the turn. That is Jim behind me.
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and here is Julia not far back.

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I was pushing into (even more) oxygen debt now. I did NOT want to get caught. I passed 1-2 people on the pier and gave it everything on the way in. I was DEEP in the pain cave. (mile 3, 6:55)
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Really deep

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I neared the finish and the clock said 21:xx. What the?

Powered through and gasped for air for several minutes. Official time 21:14. Garmin had it at 3.20 miles. And based on previous runs, I think that is accurate. Last .20 miles at 5:50 pace, thank you very much. So I figure I should have got under 20:45 on a correct course. So I'm just going to be happy with the pace and the effort. And beating Jim and Julia. And getting 5th in my AG for a medal.

Jim must have finished strong too because he was only 2 seconds behind me (and WON his AG at 55). My AG is stacked. Top 4 were all UNDER 19:00!

Julia was about 30 seconds back and won her AG. And by popular demand, here is a picture.

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Checking my results - 5th place!

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Picking up my medal from race director Jeff Atkinson, who won my AG, and also won the Olympic Trials 1500 in 1988. Yeah, tough crowd.

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 So, it was a good race on a beautiful day. Life is good.

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