Friday, July 4, 2014

Stars & Stripes 5K Review - New PR!!!

Stars & Stripes 5K Review
Friday, July 4, 2014
Lee's Summit, MO

Runners: 964
Course: Fairly flat, 131 ft elevation gain
Weather: PERFECT!!! 68F, 68%, no wind
Time: 7:30 am Start
SWAG: Cotton t-shirt
Race Organization: Good
Volunteer Support: Good
Crowd Support: Small
Food: Very sparse
Weight: 179
Health: Good, no issues
Conditioning: Pretty good, a little over race weight and a little dead-legged, need to work a lot more hills into my workouts
Time: 18:21 NEW PR!!!
Pace: 5:55/mile
Place: 12/964 Overall, 1st/29 45-49 AG

I've ran better 5K's, but I've never ran a faster one than I did on Friday morning.  On the Fourth of July, Michael and I ran the 3rd Annual Stars & Stripes 5K in our hometown of Lee's Summit, MO.  And even though Independence Day is thought of as the "half-way point of summer", we couldn't have asked for a better morning to run ... 68 degrees with only 68% humidity, and almost no wind.  PERFECT!!!

Start of the 2014 Stars & Stripes 5K, I'm on the far left in red shorts ... hahaha, yeah RED!  Go USA!!!
Michael and I have kind of made this race our tradition on the the morning of Firecracker Day.  This year the race partnered with Team RWB, a wonderful non-profit group that helps get returning veterans involved in social and athletic activities to acclimate them back into everyday life. Also, even though it's a small local race, there's always a live band, great medals, face painting for kids - and adults I suppose, if that's how you roll, and a kid's race.   It costs $40 if you wait to enter the day before or day of the race, which is a little high, but it's really a quality event.  Plus, the drive home after a race in your hometown is always magical because it's only a few blocks away.  And most of the course through the Summit Fair Outdoor Shopping Center is part of my weekly Long Run, so I'm pretty familiar with it anyway.  The race, which is organized and ran by KC Running Company, has grown each of the first three years, and this year our friends Paul and Michelle ran it, as well as almost 1,000 other runners.

 Stars & Stripes 5K finisher medal and medal for 1st Place in 45-49 AG
I'm about 9 weeks away from my first Fall marathon of 2014, and training has been going fairly well.  So I was looking for a good race to use as a speed and conditioning measuring stick, and this one fell right into the perfect timeframe.  The course is fairly flat, with only 131 ft of elevation gain and some rolling hills - but I've definitely ran much flatter 5K's.  Honestly, going into the race I felt like I had a good chance to PR.  I had told my friend Paul that I hoped to and thought I could, but on the morning of the race, I began to have some doubts.  My legs felt a little dead, and my stomach was a little tight.  On the way to the race I told Michael that I wasn't sure I could PR, to which she responded ... "Stop being a wuss and just go out there and do it!"  That woman always has a wonderfully positive way of motivating me ... this time it worked!

So Embarrassing!!!
After I hit the Port-O-Pottie a couple times, and then ran about three miles of warm ups and sprints, something really embarrassing happened.  I wanted to make sure I went right from my warm ups into the race and tried to time it down to the minute, but I almost cut it a little too close to the starting gun before jumping in line.  As the band Teacher's Pet (a local cover-band that plays this event every year) was playing a song to get everyone amped up, I hurried to the area near the timing mat and hopped one of those little aluminum rails they use to corral everyone in.  Just as I was about half way over the frail 48 inch tall metal divider ... you guessed it ... my foot slipped and it started to wobble like I was balancing on a high wire with no net.  I started to fall, and if not for a nice guy standing near the starting line, I would have went down.  He finished helping me all the way over the make shift fence, and once I was safely on the other side, he pointed to an opening literally three feet away from the incident and asked, "Why didn't you just go through there?"  About a dozen people who saw my failed balancing act began laughing, and the two Elite Runners who would finish 1st and 2nd in the race looked me, slowly looked down at the ground and shook their head in disgust.  Man ... I felt about an inch tall.  Hahaha, I'm a dork!  Then the gun sounded!

The Race
The first mile of the course is really flat, with some long gradual downhills.  As I was warming up, my legs felt pretty dead and I was having a little trouble getting up to race speed.  I was hoping the start of the race would give me a little boost, but about 20 meters in, I felt exactly the same way.  I wasn't really laboring, but it just didn't feel as fluent as I would have hoped.  As we circled Macy's and JC Penny's, the pack started to thin a little and there were about 20 runners in front of me, with two young college-age girls immediately in front of me. Which leads me to one of my primary rules of racing ... "If a run's not going great, find a cute girl and follow her for a while!"  Well, that's not really a rule, but I might consider making it one because it worked on Friday.  About 3/4 of a mile in, one of the young ladies began to fade a little as we made our way up the first gradual incline.  When we hit the first mile marker, my Garmin vibrated and I looked down ... 5:50!   That was pretty much where I wanted to be, and I was actually starting to settle in a bit.  But I've ran this area numerous times before, and I knew the last two miles would be much tougher than the first.

As I began mile two, the remaining young female runner, and two guys who looked like they were in their late twenties were bunched up near me.  But as we made our way up the second hill, one of the guys dropped off, and the third hill made quick work of the other guy.  So now I was about 13 or 14 spots back, still running off the left shoulder of the young girl who wore an apparent school issued running top that read "Saints" on the back.   In the final results I noticed that she was 19 years old and from New Jersey, so presumably this was a High School track or cross country uniform.

The hills of mile two in this race aren't the world's toughest by any description.  In fact on a weekly long run, I barely even notice them.  They're about 25-50 feet in elevation gain, short, and really nothing spectacular.  The problem is, any little climb in a 5K, when you're motoring at a "controlled sprint" really breaks your rhythm and forces you to grind it out.  That's what these hills did.  As I neared the completion of the second mile, I was sucking wind, and my Garmin vibrated with a 6:04 ... 14 seconds slower than the first mile.  My oxygen depleted fuzzy brain started trying to do the math at that point, and I figured a PR was now out of the question, but I still really wanted to finish strong.

The young runner from Jersey and I passed a couple more runners - guys close to my age - at the beginning of the third mile.  She was running a strong race.  I actually pulled ahead of her at about 2.2, but as some onlooking peers about her age cheered her as we ran past, she got a boost of adrenaline and soon passed me back.  We'd reached the point in the race at mile 2.5 where I knew we probably wouldn't catch any more runners.   And with a glance over my shoulder on one of the turns, I doubted anyone behind would catch us.  I kept trying to separate from her on the long gradual hill of mile three, but every time I drew even, her pace would quicken a little and she would put about 3 feet back between us.  But she was fighting her breathing about as much as me, both of us really laboring.

Team RWB Volunteers after the Stars & Stripes 5K
As we rounded the final turn at the mile three marker, my Garmin buzzed again.  I glanced down and it read 6:06, which surely meant no PR today.  But with only .1 mile left, I began my final kick.  I once again caught up with her and started to pass her.  But then like she was shot, she separated from me for a brief moment.  I had tried to encourage her a few times on the back of mile three when we both were struggling, and as she briefly pulled away, I again gasped, "Great job girl!"  That was about the time I saw the finish line clock.  It read 18:15 and counting.  Holy cow ... I was still ridiculously close to my PR ... so I began to empty the tank and sprint toward the finish line.  I actually caught the young lady as we neared the finish line and passed her just as the clock read 18:21 ... an 8 second NEW 5K PR!!!  I was so excited!!!

I knew was running close to a personal best on Friday, but I thought the speed bump hills in the middle of the race would slow me just enough.  At the finish line, as the volunteer cut the timing chip from my shoe, and as I was trying to gather as much oxygen as I could force back into my depleted lungs, I found the young lady and told her, "Great race!"  In typical teenager fashion she replied with a Kardashianesque, "Awwwaaa ... thankyouwaaa!!!  Thanks for encouraging me and pushing me!"  After that I ran a recovery mile to the car to grab my phone, a banana, and some more water ... all while beaming because I'd finally PR'd again in a 5K!

Not sure what my right arm is doing ... but it almost looks like RAWKFIST!!!
After I grabbed my final printed results, and an Age Group Medal, I heard someone say, "Nice bright shoes".  It was my friend Paul, commenting on the lime green Saucony Kinvara 5's I'd worn at our last track session, and in Friday's race.  Man, these shoes are so comfortable, and fast!  I laughed and we chatted for a minute about the race, in which he had PR'd again as well, before our friend Michelle walked up.  I introduced them and we all visited, keeping an eye out for Michael, who should have been finished by this point.  I kept scanning the crowd, but couldn't find her anywhere.

At about 42 minutes on the clock, I saw her from a distance ... walking.  She hadn't felt good with a some dizziness which had triggered her Vertigo, on the way to the race.  I knew immediately that it had forced her to walk.  As I met her at the finish line, she had a weird look on her face and was staggering around a little.  I walked her over to a curb and had her sit down.  She made it almost all the way down on her own, but then lost balance and almost fell into a bush.  She said everything was spinning.  She's struggled with Vertigo in the past and started an antibiotic Thursday night which probably caused a little dizziness that then triggered the reaction.  She said it really hit her pretty hard during the race and she walked about half of it.  As soon as she was able to stand, we made our way to the car and hurried home so she could get some rest.

Later in the day I thought a lot about the 5K.  I've ran much better races.  Each mile was slower than the last which is something I usually try to be the opposite of.  But on this Fourth of July, I ran 3.1 miles faster than ever before.  It was the exact goal I had going into the race, and a box I was able to check at the conclusion.  The really encouraging point was I think I still have one more faster 5K in me later this year.  But it felt great to run this one as fast as I did, and hopefully, it will be a springboard into even greater things to come in the Fall.

Hope your 4th went well too!  Thank you to all of those who serve this country, past and present, to assure us the great freedom and liberty we so deeply cherish.
... be great today!


  1. Holy moses are you fast! Only in my dreams could I be that fast :)

    I also raced today but it wasn't pretty. Congrats on your PR and Happy 4th!

  2. Congrats on your new PR!! That sounds like a great race.

    1. Thanks Tia, yeah, we always have a great time at this race

  3. SO impressed, great race. I've been trying to comment on this since yesterday - for some reason, I've been having issues with opening Blogger pages in Chrome, which makes no sense since they're both Google products! I finally broke out Safari, just to applaud you :)
    Now, I totally want to give you all the credit in the world for this very well run race and stellar placement. But I'd also like to give a nod to your Kinvaras. Freaking love that shoe. So upset I can't wear them anymore...and honestly, I'm thinking about going back to them if/when I ever get back to running. Even if I do pronate, I just like the feel so much!
    So, what's this 5k do to your training? I guestimate that a sub-6 pace places you firmly in the under 3 hours category for a marathon, but will you be knocking seconds or minutes off that goal now?

    1. Thanks Grace, that really means a lot from a great runner like yourself - I should have followed your lead on the Kinvaras long ago - they're amazing. The feel is just exactly what I've been looking for for so long. About the times, I'll put it this way - I really can't imagine that I WON'T run sub three this fall, but right now it just seems so far away. And it's still 10 min off of my current PR. The only thing I can tell you is that I've been training faster than ever and really focusing on that goal. I'd also like to run under 18 min this fall in a 5K, and under 1:27 in a half, as secondary goals - but the sub 3 what everything is geared around.

      And yeah, I've had trouble with Google Chrome and Blogger before too - which I don't understand for the reasons you stated. Have a great weekend!

  4. What a funny way to start the race! Just goes to show that you never know what race day holds - finishing with a PR would turn it into the best race day. Congrats!

    1. Thanks Tina, yeah - it was pretty funny, I would have laughed if it wasn't me - ha

  5. yay!!!!!!!!!
    congrats on that PR!
    sometimes it pays off trying not to get chicked!!
    : )
    and send hugs to Michael from of all us here in blogland,i do hope she feels better soon!!

    1. Thanks Melissa - she's feeling much better today and hopefully it won't last long

  6. You are crazy fast! Well done! Hope your wife is feeling better now too :)

  7. Thanks, yeah Michael's doing quite a bit better!

  8. Congrats on the PR and nice work. Always nice to know you are going in the right direction in terms of your training.


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