Friday, August 12, 2016

4th of July 5K RR

So I came into this race pretty relaxed. I knew I wasn't going to shoot for sub-20, and knowing that took away some of the pressure and fear of pain.  My goal was to beat my AG course record of 20:48 from two years ago. I figured I was in good enough shape to take that down, although it wouldn't be easy. The course has little rolling hills that are enough to hurt. The first mile has a long gradual uphill, and mile 2 has a few rollers before mile 3 (on the out and back) has a nice long downhill. So it makes sense to start conservatively and not burn out on the hills.

So my goal was 6:40 pace or under. Weather was the usual perfect - marine layer overcast, about 60. Kind of humid though. Had a good sweat going on my 1.5 mile warmup. The course runs along the ocean much of the way. My track club was out in force, with maybe 25 people in uniform. It was fun to have so many friends there. The course goes along my Tuesday group run route too, so many of them were there also. Big crowd. Over 2,000 runners and walkers.

The race invited Kayla Montgomery to get some award. Not sure why the connection, but she was here from North Carolina and was briefly introduced before she ran the race. If you don't know her story, you should make time to watch this 12 minute video. Warning: you will probably cry. Basically, she has MS and when she runs her legs go numb, but she has become a state champion anyway. At the end of her races she collapses into her coach's arms. So I was kind of hoping to see that live. However she runs like 18 minutes, so not likely...

Started well, not too fast. First look at G showed 6:45. Good. Got around the kids and maniacs in the front. Cruised to the coast and started to push up the slope. Waved to the wife.

I started catching some people and felt strong. Coach Ed (who I beat by 2 seconds last time) was well ahead of me this time, but I had him in sight and hoped maybe I could reel him in later. Mile 1 was 6:41. Fine, but now it's time to push harder.

The 5K pain had come on board by now. But I saw Ed at the turnaround maybe 12 seconds ahead, and that gave me a reason to keep the hammer down. The little hills in mile two were pretty rough and had me huffing and puffing, but I got over them and finished two with a 6:37. OK, good, now mile 3 should be faster and I am on track to get my goal.

But as mile 3 started I could feel the lactic acid coming on again. I was in survival mode, just hanging on and trying not to slow down. I was still catching people, and the downhill certainly helped. But Ed was not getting much closer. A little though. I just kept pushing.

With 0.3 to go there is a little hill before the finish, just enough to break your spirit if you are at the tipping point. But I powered up it and found I had some left to go a little further into oxygen debt. Mile 3 was 6:35.

And right here I passed Kayla! I wasn't sure it was her, but as I approached the finish, the announcer said her name. My last bit was 5:56 pace and I finished in 20:40. Bam! Goal achieved.

Coach Ed was 6 seconds ahead of me. Another friend, Eva, was 8 seconds ahead of me. (You may remember I beat her in a May 5K) As I regained my breath I stayed near the finish to watch Kayla come in about ten seconds behind me. She didn't collapse, but she had a friend there to hold her up. She just stumbled a little (like many of us!). I guess she wasn't racing too hard at near 21 minutes. Later I read that she had pulled an abdominal muscle earlier and wasn't pushing too hard.

So I'm happy with that effort. Tough field - I got 13th AG, 122nd overall. Now I have no more races until 8/28, when I will run my 8th and final 5K of the year. That one is a fast course and I plan to pull a Pre, and go out at suicide pace and get that sub-20! For now I am taking a few days off and then it will be back to speed training!

Life is good.

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