Saturday, July 5, 2014

If It's the 4th, There Must be a Race

Got to love traditions, right? I have been running 4th of July races since 1979 (a 36:00 10K). For 5 years in a row (1979-83) it was the Excelsior Firecracker 10K in Minnesota. It is still going and I hope to do it again someday.

I started doing the local Redondo Beach 5K in 1995 (19:13 and still my course record and post-college PR). This year would be my 12th running of that race in the last 20 years.

After a couple cutback weeks, I was feeling good and had no excuses. I wanted to get under 21:00 after failing that in the last 4 5Ks. Plan was to go out at 6:45 or better and hang on.

DW was on hand, of course, for photo documentation. And she does like a good opportunity to dress up...

There was a big crowd of about 3,000. Lots of casual types, but plenty of fast racers too. This race always brings out the racers. And lots of high school cross country teams too.


I was wearing my Club Ed uniform. That is from my Wednesday track group. There were probably 50 of us out there. It was a lot of fun to be part of a team. I felt kind of elite associating with these guys, most of whom are faster than me. I did about a mile warmup and felt good. Let's go!

There was the usual huge crowd of people going out too fast at the start, but I restrained myself well. I didn't worry about the hundreds ahead of me already. Many would come back to me. Garmin showed I was in the 6:30's which was just fine. And it didn't feel too bad! I was cruising and trying to save some for the rolling hills ahead.

That is the ocean out there. Beautiful course. It was overcast, but very humid. Still, not bad at all with temps in the 60s.

I came through mile 1 in 6:38, and was now passing people regularly which helped keep the momentum going. I passed several team rivals that are near my pace in workouts. That was a nice boost in confidence. The 2nd part of mile 1 was uphill and mile 2 was rolling, and it started to hurt now. But I knew I was on track for a good time and the body was holding up OK. I knew mile 3 was mostly down so I just needed to get over this last little hill...

Meanwhile, DW took some shots of local color.

Finished mile 2 in 6:36! Crested the last hill and knew sub-21 was in the bag. I just needed to maintain. But I was really hurting now. The usual 5K suffering, I tried to push it a little more down the hill, but I noticed I had slowed to 7:00 pace over that last hill. Gradually I worked it down, but I didn't have much left. Still, no one passed me and I was still flying pretty well.

One last little hill, and then 2 blocks to the finish. I pushed with whatever I had left, because who knows how far off Garmin was. Mile 3 was 6:43, and then G had 0.15 at 5:50 pace.

20:48. Best time in almost a year. Monkey off back.I thought I was going to hurl just past the finish, but it came up dry thankfully. Very happy with that time, and how I felt through the race. 159th place in this tough field. 11th in my age group.

So, YAY! Feeling good, and thinking about adding another 5K on Sept 6th on a flatter, faster course to get closer to 20:00. But first, back to marathon training. Looking to do a slow hot 17 miles tomorrow.

Life is good.

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