Ed's race, the Run so They can Play 10K and 5K was yesterday. In a change from the past, the starts were staggered. 10K at 9:30, 5K at 10:30. Once I saw this, I instantly became intrigued. Seeing as I'm training for a marathon, this seemed like an opportunity to get a little practice running hard while fatigued. Seeing as I'm apparently a bit of a masochist, with or without the marathon in the future, the question of whether I could run a good 5K so shortly after racing a 10K to win was one I couldn't resist answering. So I found myself registered for both events.
In the days leading up to the race, I was thinking big. I won the 10K fairly comfortably last year. I knew Dana wasn't going to be running the 5K this year and I beat last year's second place 5K finisher to their finish line on my way to the 10K last year. If the competition is similar to last year minus Dana, I could win both. Not only that but my 10K course record wasn't all that fast and I've run within 5 seconds of Dana's course record after doing a 20 mile long run on what I would consider to be at least as difficult of a course. Two wins was a possibility, if the stars aligned could I have a shot at two course records? In the back of my mind, I couldn't rule it out. However, the stars didn't seem to be aligning. In the final couple of days before the race, my hips were feeling tight, especially my left hip flexor. I ran very easy Friday and what felt almost like walking pace Saturday to get my legs back under me but having the company picnic, essentially a free carnival, Saturday didn't help with quite a bit of standing and walking around. The rest of Saturday, though, was pretty low key so I was feeling fairly well rested Sunday morning.
Race 1: 10K: As I was warming up for the 10K, I noticed that my right groin was feeling very tight. Unless it worked itself out, I knew I wasn't going to be shooting for even one course record and I was just hoping I could keep it together for the 10K win and a respectable showing in the 5K. I had picked out my primary competition in the 10K. A guy wearing an Army shirt looked pretty serious and fit. He was lining up just to my right so I'd be able to keep an eye on him at the start.
The start was a bit late but no big deal, just some added opportunity to try to loosen up the hips. At the start, I got out straight into the lead but the Army guy was right with me. We went back and forth a bit, with him taking the lead a couple of times and just off my shoulder or tucked in right behind me most of the time. Even when he did take the lead, though, I felt like I was in charge. However, he was proving to be a tough challenger. I began thinking about my hips and the 5K to come and wondering how hard he was going to push me. Almost straight from the beginning, I could hear that he was breathing hard but so was I to only a slightly lesser extent and he was hanging on to anything I did.
We went right through the mile together. He checked his split and I thought about asking before thinking I'm probably better off not knowing. He continued to hang tough until, around the middle of mile 2, I began to gap him. He was definitely trying to continue to hang with me but he just couldn't. Knowing that feeling, I decided to exploit it a bit and picked up the tempo just a bit. If I can get even 40-50 yards on him, it's all but over. Just before the halfway point, there are a couple of sharp turns. I glanced back at that point and didn't see him. I had some breathing room and now could decide what to do.
As I cruised through the halfway point and faced the big hill, I decided I wanted to start with just getting up the hill without killing myself. At the top of the hill, after assessing the state of my hips (sore and tight but holding up) I decided to play it conservative for the second half. I essentially tempo ran it, looking back on occasion to make sure nobody was coming up on me, and ran for the comfortable win.
After the race, I got a couple cups of water and headed back to my supplies. When I got there, I immediately downed a bottle of Gatorade, then worked the legs, especially the hip area, with the stick before grabbing another bottle. Then, I had a decision to make. Do I down it now or take it to the start line? Well, I should have at least 10 minutes yet to let my stomach process it so I downed it and headed over to the start line. I get there and Ed says 3 minutes to the start. Oh, that's not good. I did one stride just to do an inventory check and lined up. This time, a guy with I believe a blue singlet looked like the competition and I was very worried, given the state of my hips. Would I be able to turn them on for a 17-something pace? I had already pretty much written off sub-17.
Race 2: 5K: At the start, I got out good again. This time, the only person I saw was the women's leader but I didn't see her for long before I was all by myself. At about a half mile, I already stole my first glance back while going around a turn to see that the guy in the blue singlet was already a block back. Good but I still hope he's not starting slow and accelerating. I pushed through the first mile feeling reasonably well. In the second mile, I was starting to strain but keeping it together until, at about 1.5 miles, I stepped on a rock. The awkward action of recovering from that not only did my hips in but I felt a cramp in my right hamstring. Add to that a side stitch that had been building from that 40 ounces of Gatorade that didn't have time to settle and I wasn't a pretty sight. My pace slowed dramatically and I was getting worried about being caught. By this point, though, I didn't want to look back to know what my risk was. Don't look back and let the competition know you're scared. So I kept plugging away, remembering that I didn't want to hurt myself just to win this but I didn't go through all of this to finish second. If I could do it without hurting myself, I was going to find a way to win. Going down the trail from about the 2 mile mark to about the 3 mile mark seemed to take forever and it probably did in a way. I wouldn't be surprised if that mile was in the 6:15-6:30 range.
Finally, though, I came out of the trail still in the lead. I rounded the final two sharp turns and found the strength to hammer it into the finish with a big kick.
10K: 1st, 36:36
5K: 1st, 18:13
A few closing thoughts. I was only 40 seconds off my course record in the 10K I set last year. This course is more challenging than it would seem but I think I would definitely have been within reach of my time from last year had I not been looking toward the 5K on the second lap, which is a good sign as far as my fitness goes. Due almost solely to the second half and especially mile 3, the 5K was barely faster than the 10K but that was more a sign of the caution I was practicing than my fitness level. Also, adding to the challenge I was expecting, the 5K started less than an hour after the 10K due to the late 10K start. I would approximate that I only had 10-15 minutes of rest between races. Had the races started an hour apart, I would have had more time to loosen up the hips. Maybe that would have made a difference, maybe not. Finally, it was a nice haul. I got two nice nylon bags, two $50 gift certificates, and two trophies. Ed definitely lines up some nice prizes. With these prizes, I would expect the word to get around the running community and more runners looking to show up and bring home some nice prizes.