Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stars & Stripes 5K - Lees Summit, MO

2nd fastest race to date at the Star & Stripes 5K
Race Report:  
Stars & Stripes 5K
July 4, 2012
Summit Fair - Lees Summit, Missouri

Time: 19:06
Pace: 6:08/mile
Place: 5th out of 412 Overall, 1st 40-44 Age Group
Weather: 82 Degrees, 65% Humidity, Sunny, Wind 6SW

Michael and I have been training pretty intensely lately. She's been getting ready for her Half Ironman next weekend, and I've been working on Project 3:09.  So neither one of us were really excited about running a "measly" 5K this morning - especially considering how hot it's been lately.  But at about 6:15 on Independence Day 2012, we got down to a very special All-American Pre-Race Dance Party, and then rolled out to one of the local outdoor shopping centers, Summit Fair, to run the first ever Stars & Stripes 5K in our hometown of Lees Summit, Missouri.

I love hometown races - I just don't get to run enough of them.  You never have to figure out where to park.  You don't have to spend money on travel or a hotel.  And best of all, when the race is over ... you're home!!!  And we love our hometown of Lees Summit - a suburb of Kansas City located about 20 minutes Southeast of downtown.  It's one of the nicer communities in the KC Metro area and we love it!  So yeah it was a little toasty at 80 degrees already at the 7:00 AM start, but I got to run on an off day from work in the middle of the week ... so it was a great morning!

USA ... USA ... USA!!!
A midweek race is kind of a rare thing.  But since the 4th fell on Wednesday this year, we just included the race as part of our regular weekly training.  And even though I wasn't THAT excited about running a 5K (they are by far my least favorite race), I knew it would be a great benchmark to give me an idea of where I was in my training as I headed into the bulk of summer.  I wanted to run it fast - and I wanted fast to be relatively easy based on all the work I had been putting in.

When we got to the shopping center, I was surprised at how many people had already arrived.  I knew it would be a small race, but I really expected much  less than the 450 runners who showed up.  It was great to see so many local folks out so early in my  hometown. 

As I began my warm up miles, I noticed my legs were pretty heavy and dead.  I had eased off of my training a little this week due to back-to-back 90 mile weeks previously.  That being said, I was already at almost 40 miles ran this week so far - so I really didn't feel like going out and killing it on a hot and humid July morning.  I ran three warm up miles to get loose, and then ran about 6 or 7 strides in the last mile at close to race pace.  I tried to time my warm up to just a few seconds before the race so my heart rate would be a little higher when the gun went off.  But as is fairly common with smaller races, the start of the race was about 5 minutes late, so my heart rate dropped a little more than I really wanted.

The starter counted us down from "10", and after about a quarter mile, I got into my race pace and rhythm.  Even though my legs felt a little sluggish, the 6:15 pace I had eased into felt pretty smooth and easy.  I really wasn't laboring at all and my breathing was controlled and even.  I'm still always amazed at the folks you fly by at the start of a race who don't realize that a 5K is 3 miles, and that the 6-something pace they are trying to hold is way out of their fitness level.  People just seem to start waaaaaay to fast in these races.  And by about the half mile mark, most of the "pretenders" are usually weeded out.

Michael crossing the finish line
As I approached the one mile mark I started to push it a little.  I knew there were just a handful of runners in front of me and I thought I could probably pick them off one by one base on how good I was feeling.  And at about 1.5 I caught a group of about 4 runners who had bunched up and passed them on the right.  After that, I settled in to about a 6:05 pace for a while - and I still actually felt great! 

At mile two I shadowed a guy for a while, who frankly didn't look like had the physique hold a 6:00 pace.  He was a little overweight and just didn't really have the typical "runner body".  But he was motoring and really running well. At about 2.15 he looked over his shoulder like he was annoyed that I was right in his "blind spot" on his right shoulder, so I passed him.  Honestly, I was using him as a little break in the race.  I hadn't really slowed down, but I had eased up a little on the intensity that I had ran the previous mile with.  I wasn't coasting, but I wasn't even close to max effort as I "drafted" off of him.  I was still running strong and fairly fast.

After I got around him, I noticed the final cluster of runners that I would try to pass, pacing about 100 yard ahead of me.  Even though we were ascending a short little 60-70 foot hill at the time, I really "put the hammer down".  I sped up and caught and passed about 5 or 6 guys at the 2.25 mark, but really began feeling it in my breathing a little at this point.  I looked at my Garmin and I was at about 5:45/mile pace - probably a little fast for my fitness level right now.  I wanted to slow down a little, but there was one more runner still within striking distance.  

Medal for 1st Place 40-44 Age Group
I've seen this guy before in local races, but don't know his name.  I just know he's a pretty good runner.  At this race he was wearing a bright yellow hat that he had on backwards, and as I drew even with him at the top of the hill, both of us huffing and puffing, I glanced at him and said "Let's go!" ... kinda like "Bring it!"  I passed him, but I think he accepted the challenge, because he didn't drop off like most people when you overtake them late in a race - he actually sped up and stayed right on my butt.  I was thinking, "Crap, I pissed this guy off!"  The incline took a little out of both of us and we began to slow the pace slightly, but eventually I began pulling away from him too.  My plan was to get as far ahead of him as possible, and then hold on the last few hundred yards.  

I could see another guy in an orange shirt about 75 yards in front of me, but knew that I couldn't catch him with only about .3 miles left in the race.  As I made my way around the final turn, I could only see about 4 runners - which were actually the only runners in front of me.  But as I glanced over my shoulder to check out my buddy in the yellow hat, I could see that I had eased up a little too much and he was gaining ground, so I began a final kick toward the finish line.  I ran the last few tenths of the race at a 5:35 pace which he couldn't match before I crossed the finish line.

I knew that I had ran well, and thought I was probably close to my 5K PR of 18:46 - and when I looked at my Garmin it read 19:06.  Only 20 seconds off of my record!  Awesome!  Because by far the best thing about the race was, though I had pushed the pace and faded toward the end a little, it was by no means a "max effort" and I still ran fairly fast.  I couldn't have been more happy.  My splits for the 5K were as follows:

Me after the race at Summit Fair in Lees Summit
Mile  1 - 6:15
Mile  2 - 6:06
Mile  3 - 6:10
Mile .1 - 5:35

After the race I listened to a really good local band "TeacherzPet", ran to my car and got my phone, and got ready to snap a picture of Michael as she crossed the finish line.  She ran really well, but I'll let you her tell you on her blog just how well!  She had an ART session later in the morning so we quickly checked the results table before heading home.  While we were in the results line, they announced the Master's winner.  It was the guy in the orange shirt that I just couldn't catch toward the end of the race - but he only beat me by 4 seconds and came in 4th Place Overall!  Which obviously meant that I had placed 5th!   And even though it was a relatively small race, it was really cool to place that high in a race.  Out of about 450 people on Wednesday, only 4 were faster than me for three miles - nice!

I had went into the race just wanting to run well.  This was a small local race and by no means a make or break event.  But regardless of how I ran, it would serve as a pretty good barometer for where I am in my training.  The bottom line is ... I couldn't be happier.  I ran pretty fast for me and didn't really have to kill it at all.  Not that I could have ran faster on Wednesday, but I just felt like I was in control of the race almost the entire way and could do whatever I wanted.  Usually in 5K's, my stomach begins churning at the half-way point because my core is not quite tight enough - my stomach didn't bother me at all!  Plus, it was over 80 degrees at the finish line - warm for a race, but that didn't seem to bother me either.  And finally, since it was the middle of a training week, I did a 10 mile recovery run after the race and felt great - no pain or issues after a fairly quick race for me.  All these little signs were much bigger positives than winning my age group in a small race, and they are a huge encouragement as I head into the rest of my summer training.  It was simply an awesome day of running.  Hope your running is going well too!
... be great today!


  1. Nice job on a speedy run, just think if you wouldn't have eased up, maybe you could have caught orange shirt guy :) I have finally learned the art of not going out too fast on 5 and 10ks, I think. It is fun to pass all the people that go out too fast.

  2. Happy 4th! Wow, you are fast! Missed my last local race due to this darn injury! I was really disappointed year! Maybe I will be faster, I've been trying to incorporate more legs inspired by one of your past posts!

  3. You are on a roll sir. Great recap. I hope I'm fast when I get old like you :)

  4. Sounded like a great race, 5th place is huge! Funny the various people you see on the race course - orange shirt, yellow hat, lol.

  5. Fast and consistent! Nicely done.

  6. I also wanted to add, is this your highest finish ever on a percentage basis? 5th out of 450 is amazingly high. I think the highest I've ever gotten is 2% or so.

  7. Nelly - At my PR in 2010 I think I was 8th out of 779, which was probably a higher percentage - but at that race I was 2nd in my age group. I do okay in the smaller races, but get SMOKED in t he larger ones with a lot of good runners.

  8. Nice!!! And speedy too!!! Even better that you felt great afterwards


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