Last Saturday, I competed at the Kansas City Corporate Challenge 5K. It was my first race of 2013. I headed into the race with less than desired training and a slight strain in my right quad that I did not want to aggravate into something bigger. I had been able to do some faster workouts without aggravating it, but I had avoided anything really fast. So, I knew that I would be fine, but I would not be able to give a massive kick at the end. I would just have to run a controlled race through the finish line. My goal heading into the race was to win my age group and score points for the team. Based upon the previous year’s results, there are a couple of guys from Garmin who are pretty fast, but I still liked my chances and considered myself the age group favorite. One advantage that I had is that my company has not competed in KCCC for a couple of years and I might surprise some people.
Race day dawned cool and damp. The temperature was nice, but the damp might make footing slippery in places. I arrived a bit later than normal having placed a higher priority on sleep than on an early arrival. A coworker had picked up my packet and delivered it to me at work, so I had nothing to do other than take care of my normal pre-race routine. Our company coordinator had mentioned meeting before the race for a picture, but I did not see anyone and did not look too hard as I went about my routine.
At the start, I saw a few people that I knew. I did some strides and relaxed a bit. I thought that Eric might be someone that I would be competitive with and I lined up near him. One concern that I had was that scoring would be based on chip time rather than gun time, but the same rule applies to all so I cannot worry too much about it. It should not matter anyway. I also saw Carl, a runner that I’ve only ever competed with at corporate challenge. We have a friendly rivalry going. But, I knew that this year I had moved to the next age group ahead of him so even if Carl managed to beat me, it would not affect team scoring. Still, I did not plan to let that happen. I do not think that he remembered that there is one year out of every five that we’re in a different age group.
The race started and I set off in pursuit of Eric and remained close to him a little more than a quarter mile then he was leading a chase pack after the leaders. Around then, I considered surging to join that pack, but decided to just run my own race. As we passed the mile, I noticed that I was wearing my watch. It did not matter much since I had not started it. The course was an out and back course with a large wide median between the runners heading out and those making the return trip. I was beginning to feel a little uncomfortable and knew that the turn would be soon. Just after the turn, I avoided the aid station workers offering water and was passed by a guy who might be in my age group. Basically, he had a similar hairline to mine, but I have had a similar hairline since my 30s so it might be nothing. I stayed with him for a time, but eventually he pulled away a bit. I kept him in sight.
The return trip was pretty uneventful. I gradually increased my pace, and closed the gap with the guy who might have been in my age group, but in the end I did not catch him. I did pass one guy on the way to the finish. The end result was 15th place overall, 1st in my age group (45-49, KCCC goes by age at end of year rather than current age), and a time of 17:42. I accomplished my goal of winning my age group and scoring points, but I think the fact that I did not feel safe giving a true 100% effort made for a less than satisfying overall experience. My time was a bit slower than I would have liked but not much slower than I expected. Eric told someone near the start that he would have liked a 16:30, but ran 17:13, so perhaps the course was a bit slow due to the wet pavement. There was a net climb on the way out and a net downhill on the way back, but there were no major hills. I would not be surprised to see some fast times on that course. It is interesting that few of the very fastest guys in the area run KCCC, but there seem to be a lot more people than normal who break 18. The top 21 broke 18. Most local races seem to have just a handful. Three went under 17. So, it was relatively crowded running in the 17s.
My next races will be a mile and an 800m for KCCC on the track in the first week of June. I am looking forward to those. I am hoping that my quad is recovered by then. I am most interested in the mile, but I think that the 800m will be especially challenging for me and possibly a bigger strain on my quad.
At this point, I am no longer certain that I will run masters nationals. My priorities for this year are shifting to put more emphasis on setting up our land to raise more of our own food in the future and less about running. I think that it is a good shift and much more important in running for myself and my family. We've been reading Joel Salatin's books and we are excited about expanding our production and learning to do it sustainably. It seems ridiculous for us to be spending so much on groceries when we have 13 acres that we're hardly using.