My goal going in was to break 32:00. It was somewhat random in that this was only my 3rd 10k and I didn't know how recovered I would be from my marathon two weeks ago. Winning the race was secondary although a time under 32:00 would usually be sufficient to win this race.
The start was late due to either an unexpectedly high number of people registering the day of or poor planning on the part of the race for not getting through the line quicker. We were almost 15 minutes late which pretty much makes an effective warmup impossible. Oh well.
When the gun finally went off, I and three other guys jumped out to an early lead. I crossed mile 1 in 4:58. A good start especially into a non-trivial wind. Our pack was still four at the one mile mark.
By mile 2, we had said goodbye to the 5k runners and our pack was down to three runners: me, Leif Kohler and Eric Garner, a former University of Washington standout. http://gohuskies.cstv.com/sports/c-track/mtt/garner_eric00.html
Mile 2 was a bit slower as we crossed in 5:06. The wind was far more noticeable on this stretch.
There was no mile 3 marker. I HATE this. How hard is it to freaking put a mile marker at every mile. So my lap split came at the turnaround spot. It was 5:38 for the 1.1 miles which equates to a 5:09 mile pace. I was excited to head back the other direction to get out of the headwind. The 1/2 way split was 15:42.
Since I've never run a 5k, I guess that is my new PR.
I was leading at the turnaround by a few seconds. This is when things got interesting. Leif began dropping off and Eric jumped out to the lead. It was clear he was making an effort to surge and see what I would do in response. For the first minute I tried to stick with him but I was concerned that the increased pace wasn't something i could maintain and I didn't want to blow up at the end. This was mistake #2.
I crossed mile 4 in 5:02 and was about 10 seconds back of back now and Leif was way back. This is when I started to realize I may have made a tactical mistake by not going with Eric when he made his surge at the halfway point. Barring a major injury or blowup, second was mine and so was a decent time. But, catching Eric, who is tall, long-legged and had great footspeed, was going to be infinitely harder now than if I had gone with him when he tried to surge.
With one mile to go, I was still about 10-15 seconds back and Leif was nowhere to be seen. There was a short window here where I thought I might be able to catch Eric but he is a short distance specialist and I would have never been able to take him if it came down to a sprint to the finish.
My last mile was in 5:02. So I finished strong but lost the race.
- Leif and I made things a lot easier for Eric by creating a great wall blocking the wind for him on the outbound half of the race. Eric was smart to stick behind us and let us do all the work.
- Not going with Eric at the halfway point. My inexperience at this distance gave me some hesitation as to what to do. I gave up too soon on trying to stay with him. Had I stayed with him, I may still not have won, but I would have known how much he really had left.
It's hard to focus too much on the mistakes when I PR'd by 1:35 and ran what would have been a course record if I had been the winner. Racing should always teach you something and make you a better and smarter runner the next time around. I need to be more confident in the strength that marathon training gives me and use that to my advantage.
I felt no residual soreness or fatigue from my marathon. That was a pleasant surprise.
As a side note, my 10-year-old son finished in 25:28, a PR by almost four minutes. I was very proud of him especially since he never trains.