This morning was my 5K - the first 5K I've run in a few years - 4 years, I think. Based on my last short race, a 5-miler a few weeks ago, and my recent speedwork, I thought I'd run 21:45 or so, if I was making decent progress towards my marathon fitness goals.
I didn't run anywhere close to 21:45, at least not within the realm of a race this short. Years ago, when I raced exclusively on the roads, I hated 5Ks for two reasons. First, they hurt a lot, from the first step to the last. And secondly, they're predictable. I would usually know within 5-10 seconds before the race started how fast I would run. But, to get to that number, I'd have to hurt a lot.
Anyway, my plan today was to run 7:00 pace the whole way. There was a high school XC team there running today, and both the boys and the girls had apparently taken a vow to wear as little clothing as possible in the race. Then, they were doing drills before the race, trying to draw as much attention as possible to themselves. I was annoyed with them long before the race started. A friend of mine called them "Team Jogbra" as she rolled her eyes. When it was time to line up, they took the entire right side of the starting line, right up front. I had a least 5 rows of high schoolers in front of me, along with some rows of real runners, and I ended up beating at least half of the high school kids.
While this is a big race for Vermont, it's not really that big - a few hundred runners total. It is probably the biggest 5K in the state. The first mile started with a steep uphill and I deliberately held back, keeping my effort under control. As the grade lessened, I started to push a bit, and I started to pass people. After less than half a mile, we got a downhill for a bit, and I looked at my Forerunner. I was feeling good and I was moving at about 6:35 pace. Then, we had a sharp right hand turn, a slight up, and then a slight down. My Forerunner beeped to mark the first mile just before I hit the mile marker. The timer called out 6:40.
The second mile starts with a steep downhill, although it's very short - essentially the opposite of the opening uphill. From there, the course winds around a bit - through a parking lot, over a railroad track, over a creek on a foot bridge, and then a sharp left hand turn. From there, it's flat for a while. I was passing people through this stretch and my Forerunner showed I was still running close to 6:40 pace. My Forerunner beeped at 13:18 for the second mile and I hit the race marker at 13:20. At this point, I suddenly realized that I might run sub-21. But, I was still afraid that I was going to explode as well. I just didn't think I could run this fast.
Just past the 2-mile mark, we made a sharp U-turn on the dirt road where we were running. Now, I had less than a mile to go and shortly, I had a slight downgrade. I was really passing people through here, mostly the fading high school runners. With about 0.6 miles to go, we got back onto pavement, and I continued to pick off runners on this fast, flat stretch. Then, about 0.2 miles from the finish, we made a sharp right turn and we could see the finish line. I was gaining on another of the high school girls and I could hear someone catching me from behind.
I was pretty much at my limit and I decided not to kill myself as the person from behind pulled even and then passed me. In the last 20 yards or so, I caught up to the girl in front of me, but there wasn't any room to pass her without elbowing her, so I just followed her into the chute - 20:50.
My Forerunner registered 3.13 miles and said I ran a 6:40 pace, but an online calculator said it was 6:42 pace for 5K. Either way, I'm thrilled with the result. This is my fastest 5K since 2000, making it a post-40 PR, at age 46.
I said a few weeks ago that my fitness goal for my marathon, based on Daniels' VDOT levels was 47, starting from 44. My time today was at level 47.5. So, I've already hit the speed levels I wanted to hit. The time today was equivalent to a 3:19 marathon on the Daniels' charts. Of course, I still have to make sure I do the distance and marathon pace work, so I can actually run sub-3:30 in November.
Oh yeah, before any smart-aleck commenter can make a comment about the course being short, the course's USATF certification number is VT89001BT.