It’s not often that I run a 5k. I prefer longer races. I like 15ks and half marathons a lot and I don’t mind 10ks but 5ks are too short. Short races hurt the whole time. Longer races feel good except perhaps near the end. Prior to Saturday I had run 3 5ks since I become a runner (and 1 5k before I was a runner). I’ve run 3 marathons — I’d rather run a marathon than a 5k!
One of my long term running goals was to break 20 minutes in a 5k. At the Corporate Challenge this year I proved to myself that I could break 20 minutes. I ran a pace there that would not only break 20 minutes but break 19 minutes. I decided to readjust my goal and shoot for a sub-19 5k. The airport 5k was my target race.My sister was in town and she is a long-time runner and decided to run the race too. Not only was my sister there (from Orlando) but my parents came to watch and so did my wife, daughter, and friend John. I had excellent crowd support because I brought an entire crowd just for me!
My plan was to warmup for about two miles. I planned to do about 1.5 miles slowly and then finish with about a half mile at a comfortably fast pace. It turns out that my warmup was a little short but I don’t think it mattered too much. As I finished my warmup the masses headed to the start line. I felt a bit nervous because I wasn’t at the start line with them yet…and because I really wanted to do well! I’ve never been so nervous for such a short race.
I lined up right at the starting line (maybe one row back). At the first mile I clocked exactly 6 minutes which is a little too fast for me. The course was a double loop except that it’s not much of a loop. The very first part of the course is an out-and-back with a momentum killing cone marking the turnaround. You have to go through that turnaround twice before completing the race. Shortly after hitting the turnaround for the second time Donna called out to me which was a great mental boost!
As I came near the finish line I heard John shout to me. That’s when I gave it everything I had left. Unfortunately when I ran through the finish line my time was 19:03 (6:09 average pace). I missed my goal time by 4 seconds!
I placed 14th overall out of about 350 runners. I placed 1st in my age group (though the winner of the race was in my age group so really it was a second place age group finish but I’ll take it!). At first I was disappointed that I missed my goal time. The more I think about the race the less disappointed I am.
I’m not blaming anyone but myself but I do believe that I could have corrected my pace if I had known where the second mile mark was. The weather was good, and the course was flat. The only thing that slows you down on that course is the turn-around. More importantly a few seconds just don’t matter! I accomplished my long term goal of breaking 20 minutes. My next goal is to qualify for Boston. A 19 (ish) minute 5k puts me on track for a Boston qualifying marathon time. This race is a benchmark that shows me that I’m on track, though I have lots of work to do to make sure I’m in the best shape I can be for my BQ attempt.
I’m also glad (surprisingly) that I failed. I need to be prepared to fail when I try to qualify. There’s a very good chance that I will not succeed. Failure isn’t the end of the world it just means you have to try again. If I fail in my BQ attempt this December at Vegas I’ll try again in January at Miami.
And the best part is that I don’t have to run another 5k for a long time unless I really want to!