|Just me & a huge stuffed elk hangin' out the day before the race, no biggie|
November 3, 2013
Start Time: 7:30 am
Course: Mostly flat, only 36ft of elevation gain
Weather: 39 degrees, no wind, 93% humidity
SWAG: Long sleeve tech t-shirt
Health: Great, no issues at all
Conditioning: Fatigued from marathon training
Finish Time: 18:36, missed PR by 7 seconds
Avg Pace: 6:00/mile
Place: 11th/878 Overall, 1st 40-44 AG
Summary: Really disappointing PR attempt
|Really awesome plaque for Age Group winners ... 1st Place in male 40-44|
I hate 5K's. Don't get me wrong, they're a great way for organizations to raise money, and a really cool family outing idea. But if I never raced another one again, that'd be just fine with me. Because if you're racing it, and not just out on a nice weekend jog, it seems like nothing more than a three mile controlled sprint that leaves me bent over grabbing my shorts gasping for air. If my heart ever explodes from running ... it will most likely be at a 5K!
But about 10 days ago, Michael decided to run the Bass Pro Marathon in Springfield, MO. I didn't want to run the half marathon, but reluctantly decided to give the 5K a try. I'm in pretty good marathon shape right now, so I figured I'd take a shot at the ol' 5K PR. Honestly, I thought I would smash my current personal best. And while I ran a pretty good race, finishing just 7 seconds behind my fastest 5K ever, I was pretty disappointed with the outcome. Simply put ... I thought I was A LOT faster than I am right now.
|Beautiful changing leaves and fall colors everywhere in the Ozarks over the weekend, just stunning and vivid contrasts|
|The original Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World at the corner of Campbell & Sunshine in Springfield, MO|
|Amazing female bald eagle on display after the race|
Michael and I spent most of the afternoon before the race roaming around, taking pictures, and acting like idiots of course. But we both really enjoyed all of the wildlife displays, dead and living. Especially cool was a female bald eagle that was perched on a log directly adjacent to the finish line. There are several bald eagle reserves & habitats around the Midwest, and I've seen them randomly in the air from time to time. But I'm always impressed with their size when I see one up close. They're so majestic.
|Michael and me acting like complete idiots in Bass Pro, but always having a good time ... even though we both need to grow up|
|Michael and me before our races|
Even though I just ran the Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago, I've been training pretty hard for the Richmond Marathon, two weeks from now. As a result, I'm fairly speedy right now (for a 44 year old anyway). And I really thought I could waltz down to Springfield and run 3.1 miles faster than I ever had before. I was very confident. The only question was by how much I would best my personal best. But "marathon fast" is not "5K fast" ... or so I found out.
2013 has by far been my fastest running year yet. Going into the race I'd already PR'd 6 different times, setting personal bests in the 10K, half marathon, and marathon. So needless to say, I really wanted to PR in the 5K and make it a clean sweep of the four major race distances in 2013. I didn't tell anyone I was going to do it because I didn't want the added pressure ... but I gotta tell ya, I focused on it a lot in the week before the race, and the night before the race, I actually had trouble sleeping because I was obsessing over it.
I've been able to handle most pre-race anxiety really well this year. As a result, I've had a much better mental approach to racing. But before this race, I was pretty nervous. I really felt like I would run somewhere in the 17's, and I kept going through the race split scenarios in my mind over and over again. For some reason I really built this one up, even though I just decided to run it ten days prior.
|Michael crossing the starting line at the 2013 Bass Pro Marathon|
|Bass Pro Shops News-Leader 5K course elevation. Only 36 ft of rise, but it was all in the last 1.5 miles.|
It was only about 37 degrees as I began my warm ups for the 5K. I usually like to spend about 30 minutes before a 5K getting as "hot" as possible. I've just found that the race is much more enjoyable if I'm focused on leg turnover and pace, not simply gasping for air. But the marathon had started a little late and since I waited as Michael's personal photographer, I only had about 15 minutes of prep. My prep for most 5K's is 3-4 miles of progressive running with stretching mixed in, followed by 5 minutes of sprints. On Sunday, I only got in about 1.5 miles and 2 minutes of sprints. That was problem #1. It was obviously a little cool on Sunday, but standing at the starting line I hadn't even broken a sweat yet. My heart rate felt way too low to ramp up to race pace at the sound of the gun.
|Good splits, but no where near where I want to be|
When the gun sounded, I started a little faster than normal because the first half of the race was mostly down hill. I glanced at my Garmin at about a half mile in and I was running a 5:30 pretty comfortably, but I backed off because I knew that was a little too fast at this point. The first mile flew by and I really wasn't laboring at all. When I hit Mile 1, my split read 5:53. I was pretty happy with that and felt like I had a PR in the bag. But something strange happened at Mile 2.
I think this is where the fatigue was most evident. Since the first mile was deceptively easy, I began pressing it a little, but for some reason my legs just didn't respond. At about 1.5, we began a slow gradual incline. And even though I've been doing quite a bit of hill training, this small rise in elevation really elevated my heart rate. There's no way this minimal of an increase should've had the effect it did ... but it ate my lunch. I really began to fight the pace and I dropped to 6:03 on Mile 2. I did a little quick math in my head and figured I could still make it happen if I could just recover a little. But that recovery never came.
Mile 3 was tough, but it was also really fun. For about the past half mile, I'd been jockeying for position with a tall college girl, but we were both about 25 meters behind a young blond headed boy who was running really well. I finally passed the young lady at about 2.5, and was gaining on the kid ... but I looked at my pace and my Garmin displayed 6:19??? What the??? I had slowed way too much. So with about a quarter mile in the race, I gave it everything I had left on the gradual downhill toward the finish. I caught the kid and when I passed him with about .2 mile left in the race, I could see just how young he was. He was a baby! He looked about 10 or something. I was getting smoked by a 5th grader! But as I caught him, he glanced over his shoulder and couldn't hold the pace to the end. I've always had a pretty strong kick and began to pick 'em up and put 'em down. Mile 3 ended up being a 6:04, with a 5:21 average over the last tenth of a mile.
I knew I was close to a PR, but I was afraid to look at my watch. When I did, I was crushed! It read 18:36, which is a great 5K time for me ... but I'd missed my PR by 7 SECONDS!!! I couldn't believe it. I knew the second mile was slower than I'd planned, and I'd really fought it the last mile, but I'd hoped in some sort of miracle that I'd bested my old time, if only by a second. But I was 7 SECONDS slow! Pretty disappointing since I'd planned on my best 5K ever.
|A treasured photo - Dick Beardsley, me, and Frank Shorter|
I was a little embarrassed to take the award for first place in my division since I really came in second. But I got a really cool plaque and best of all was presented my award by Dick Beardsley, of "Duel In The Sun" fame, and freaking 1972 USA Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist ... Frank Shorter! When they handed me the plaque, I told them the photo with them was way better than the award. They both laughed humbly, and said ... "Oh, just get up here!" I'd met Dick before, but they both were so kind and giving with their time.
With wobbly legs, I then went and tracked Michael for the remainder of her marathon. I kept leap-frogging miles with her and snapping some photos each time I caught up with her again. It was a lot of fun, and awesome to be able to cheer her on during the race. I'll let you read her recap (here), but I couldn't have more proud of her.
|Michael with a great run at the Bass Pro Marathon|
Looking back at the race, it seems a little like a spoiled brat, or maybe even somewhat arrogant to be disappointed with an age group win, and my second fastest 5K ever. But disappointment was the main emotion I felt on Sunday. It was a little chilly. I didn't get a good pre-race warm up. I wasn't in "top 5K shape". I hadn't done any speed drills in months. The high volume week of marathon training had fatigued me quite a bit. And for whatever reason the slight rise in elevation during the second half of the race had adversely affected my run. So all things considered I was probably being a little hard on myself. For me, it was a great run ... just not what I'd hoped for. But even if all those factors had been reversed, maybe I still wouldn't have topped my old time. It was disappointing, because it'll probably be my last 5K in the 40-44 division. I wanted to go out with a bang before I turn 45, and sweep all four race categories with PR's in 2013. But who knows, if I don't kill myself at Richmond, maybe I'll spend the remainder of the year trying to make it happen. There's still a lot of year left.
... be great today!