Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sprintin' a 5K: Why not try it once...

I've never been a fan of 5Ks. When I first started running, I cursed them for their 3.1 miles of pain and frustration. When I had the distance nailed down, making it fairly routine, I passed them up for the more-challenging 10K and half marathon. Now that I'm into endurance races and longer distances, 5Ks just don't hold the allure that they once did. Also, many are small-scale events with narrow courses, and navigating through the crowds of slower runners and walkers can be maddeningly frustrating.

That's slowly changing, though, now that I've incorporated speedwork into my training. 200m sprints are growing to 400m. I've worried that the sessions ruin my training since I end up running only 3-4 miles instead of the 7-8 that I'd run if I was doing a normal run. But, during a recent session, I started fast and stayed that way for 2 miles. I ran it in 15 minutes flat, a significant improvement on any similar run I can remember doing. And, I felt pretty good when I stopped.

So, as another speedwork session was planned for this morning, I decided to register for the Orlando Runner's Club Race into Summer 5K. If I can hold that 7:30 min/mile pace for two miles, why not three point one?

So, I raced. I rarely 'race' at events. Instead, I tend to enjoy the run and nearly always have negative splits. This morning, I had negative splits again, but that was largely due to the final kick near the finish where I was around a 5:15 min/m for the last 1/4 mile.

I finished in 23:02, a full four minute improvement on my PR. But, since I rarely run 5Ks, that wasn't that surprisingly to me. I haven't raced a 5K (I've done some with a full ruck) since 2008, so some improvement was expected.

As I sneaked off to the side to down Powerade, bananas, and bagel halves, I considered how I'd done with respect to the other runners. Maybe I slipped in with a third place finish in my 30-34 age group? The field was sizable with around 300 runners. There was a chance. As I snarfed down food and listened, I realized that they didn't have 5-year groups. I would be in the 30-39 age range. D'oh. Well, mayyyybe third place...?

They called out those that placed. Nope. Not third. Oh well. Wait... did they just say my name? FIRST PLACE?! In the 30-39 age group?

Damn straight.

When they handed it to me, I ran off like I stole something.

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