Friday, July 4, 2008

My 5k Debut was my 5k debut. I didn't do myself any favors the last two days, eating like a cow at my parent's house. When I woke up I felt heavy and bloated but oh well.

It took about 40 minutes to get from my parents house to St. Paul where the race was. We were greeted with the implosion of an old coal chimney across the river 15 minutes before the race.

Fortunately, most of the toxic cloud blew just to the south of the starting line. Kind of cool to watch. Most implosions I've seen have the building falling in on itself. This one they tipped over.

I hope that was the plan.

The main reason I ran this race was because the prize for the winner was two round trip tickets anywhere in the US on Northwest Airlines. This was the fifth year they had run the race and I was surprised to see that the course record was only 16:09. Given the course is pretty flat and the fact that there is a very strong core of good runner in the Minneapolis area, I was just surprised that not more of the better runners here hadn't given this race a shot, particularly with two airline tickets at stake.

The 10k course record is a much faster 30:37 but it hadn't been run under 33:00 since 2005. So I debated which race to run but settled on the 5k mostly because I had never run one before.
The race runs along the Mississippi River just across from downtown St. Paul. Other than a small roller at the start of the race, it was virtually flat. However, there was a pretty strong headwind for the first two miles as a thunderstorm was moving in. Some tall dude was the only one who joined me from the start and he let me know he was only running a mile and offered to help pace me. With the headwind, I was happy to take him up on his offer to be a wind shield. The only problem was he wasn't going fast enough so I made the difficult decision to go out on my own. There was no question I was working harder by myself but I couldn't afford to go his pace and let the chase pack think I was in reach.

Mile 1 came in at 5:04, about 9 seconds slower than I had wanted to go out in but with the headwind the way it was, I felt like my effort was in line with the time I wanted so I kept plugging away. 9/10 of mile 2 was also into headwind and by now I was way out in front. There would be no rabbit to pace me this time.

The turnaround came at 1.9 miles. I skipped the water they offered there. My feeling is that far more can go wrong by taking water in a 5k than can go right. It's just too short for hydration to be an issue -- in terms of negatively impacting performance -- particularly in the near-ideal temperature and cloud cover.

I crossed mile 2 in 10:07 so a 5:03 on that one. Also slower than I had hoped for but probably about as good as I could of expected under the windy conditions. The return route was near the outbound route but it was sheltered in trees which was great for keeping things cool but it completely blocked the tailwind which I was hoping would give me a boost on the home stretch. Oh well.

Mile 3 came in at 4:56. I was pushing harder and it was a slight net downhill. It's the mile time I was hoping for on all the miles but what can you do. I covered the final tenth in 31 seconds which is about 4:50 pace. So I finished strong which was nice.

Finish time was 15:35 and a first place finish in my 5k debut. I haven't seen the final results, but I think the second place guy was more than a minute behind.

The course was great and the support staff was awesome. I've really learned to appreciate a well executed race and this was one of them. I briefly thought about running the 10k also, since it started 15 minutes after I finished the 10k but when I got to the starting line, I decided it would be more prudent to do a nice cool had another race to get to. 5k was not enough. I'm a distance guy after all so I felt a bit under worked. So we traveled back another 30 minutes toward my parent's house to a little town called Elko. They had a 1k kids race which my youngest son ran in and then a 5k race which me, my dad and my older son all ran in. I ran this because the race director is a dear friend of my father's and he had asked me to run. Plus, it was for a very good cause. So 90 minutes after finishing my race in St. Paul, I started 5k Part Deux. This race was also plagued with the same wind problems but even worse, it was fairly hilly. No brutal hills, but constant rollers which is pretty common for the suburbs of the Twin Cities. My legs actually felt pretty good. The course wasn't certified and my watch had it .05 miles long, but who knows. Incidentally, my watch had the earlier race pegged exactly at 3.11 miles. Take that for what it's worth.

Anyway, finished the second race in 15:58. I was completely happy with that. It was easily good enough for a victory as the second place guy was 19 minutes and high change. My son took second in his age group for the 5k despite a time well off of his PR. I reminded him that the wind was tough as was the course. Unclear whether he found that to be any consolation.

No comments: