Labor Day 5K

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    • #12154

      Yesterday dawned  cool and windy with winds expected to pick up throughout the day. It was a very  good day for a road race in town amidst buildings and trees. The Leawood Labor  Day 5K is generally considered the fastest 5K in the area due to consistently  good competition and a flat course. Although the one time that I ran this race  before yesterday, the winning time was just over 17:00 and I placed second  around 17:20, usually, the winning time will be down under 16:00. I saw enough  of the faster area runners before the race to know that this year the race would  not be unusually slow again. I knew that my chief rival in my age group was out  of town this weekend running a half marathon in preparation for Twin Cities, but  I saw Kevin Miller a guy in the 45-59 age group up who had beaten me soundly two  races ago and I hoped to give him a much better race this time around. I talked  to him briefly before the race and learned that I am not the only one who  peruses area results. He commented on the large improvement in time between when  I raced him two races ago and my last race. Though I did not set any time goals  for this race, I knew that it was very possible for me to break 17:00 on this  course with the favorable conditions.    Coming into the  race, I had had some minor hip issues the previous week that seemed to stem from  some trail running the previous weekend. I ran fairly hard on some of the more  challenging sections of the trail and I also ran hard on Tuesday and fairly hard  again on Wednesday. So, I took Saturday off and did little more than a warmup on  Sunday followed by a couple of strides. I had planned for fairly easy days both  days anyway. I felt neither especially good nor especially bad during the  warmup, but felt fairly calm and ready for the start — perhaps a little keyed  up because it was a race.    Shortly after the  start, there was a gentle turn to the right followed by another gentle turn to  the left. I lined up a little left of center next to Kevin for the start.  Shortly after, the race DJ led us all in the national anthem and then counted  down for the start. Though I don't generally like to waste energy with a lot of  maneuvering during the opening moments of a race, there was a guy on my left and  slightly ahead who was looking across the pack and drifting to the right —  pehaps he wanted to run with a friend? Twice he cut me off a little and so I  moved outside and went around him. This wasn't too bad as it set me up with a  good line for the left turn that followed. After that maneuvering, I settled in  somewhere ahead of Kevin in about 15th place. Just before 1 mile, Kevin went  around me and I went with him as part of a small pack. There were one or two  packs in front of us. I was probably about 10th-12th at the mile. Between the  mile and the turnaround, Matt passed us and he and Kevin began to separate from  the pack. I moved to the front of the pack, but did not close the gap. Kevin and  Matt caught one of the guys who had fallen off of the lead pack just before the  turnaround for the out and back course. I went around the turn in 9th place and  moved into 8th place soon after as I passed the same guy. Kevin and Matt were  about 10-15 yards ahead of me, but I felt that I was in a good position and  could easily pick them up if the slowed. Of course, both are strong runners, and  they didn't slow. About 3/4 mile from the finish, I heard a woman cheer for me  and spared a thought for any pursuit as I listened to hear if she cheered again.  I immediately chastised myself and told myself to stay focused ahead of me.  Though I picked up the pace, if anything, Matt and Kevin pulled away from me.  One thing that I like about this course is that they posted 1/2 and 1/4 mile  markers so that it is easy to know how far from the finish you are. I saw Matt  pull away from Kevin in the last 1/4 mile. As I approached the line, I saw the  clock ticking through the 16:30's. My official time was 16:42, 8th place  overall. I was very happy with my race. Of course, I would have liked to be  finishing in front of Kevin, but my legs were gave a couple of hints of tying up  in the last mile, so I think that my effort was about right on for my  fitness.
          Several masters  runners came up and commented to me about my race this weekend. I suppose I am  the only one for whom it wasn't a surprise. Since July, I have run 18:07, 18:53  (cross country), 17:22, and 16:42. I knew that the first two performances were  poor performances in races that I approached very tentatively. The second race  was on a more challenging course on a hotter day and though I ran more  aggressively, I still ran a bit tentatively in the second half mile of that  race. The only thing that I might try differently in my next race would be to  make a bit of extra effort to close the gap between Matt and Kevin before we hit  the turnaround which may have put me in a better position to compete for 6th or  7th place. Though I think that I run fairly well on my own, it might have saved  myself some mental fatigue if not physical if I had attached myself to their  small pack before they got away.     I think that this is  likely my last big improvement over 5K for this year. My training more or less began in June when I began running to  and from work. Since that time, I have gradually improved my consistency —  accepting fewer rides to or from work with my wife and gradually increasing my weekend mileage.  My speed work has consisted of fartlek type workouts between home and work in  the mornings. Each week, I've tried to do one workout with longer repeats one  one workout with shorter, faster repeats, but I haven't hesitated to drop one  workout if I enter the week fatigued from the week before. I've also tried to  run trails once per week — usually for my long run on the weekends. This is likely the cause for the fatigue that sometimes causes me to drop one of the fartlek workouts. But, I think that these trail workouts are especially helpful and fun, so I will keep doing them on weeks that I don't race. I may start meeting a friend  for track work once per week, but that will be my only change going forward. I'll start driving to work one day per week  to facilitate that. I'm not yet certain that that will happen as my friend is a doctor and has a rather busy schedule. If it is to work, he will have to drive to a track near my work two out of every four weeks because I won't always be able to get the car on the day that works with his schedule. I noticed in the results that Kevin lives fairly close to  me. Perhaps the next time I see him at a race, I will see if he wants to join us.      I have no more races  in September, so I will try to hit the next couple of weeks fairly hard.  I am planning to run two 5K's and a half marathon between October 2 and October  16 and then an 8K on November 7. These are all part of a Grand Prix competition  and if I perform well, I should be able to win and pick up a few free race entries for 2011 and perhaps some running-related gear from sponsors. I may run a 7 mile trail race the day  after the half marathon. It would be my first trail race. It is on the same trail that I have been running  for my weekly trail runs and I had been planning to run that before I  decided to chase the Grand Prix prizes. I consider it to be my home course now and I feel some reluctance to miss it. It's a low-key race with an $8 entry fee the day of the race. If I am not feeling too badly from the half-marathon and it works with my wife's horse riding schedule, I will most likely give it a try. I'd like to meet some more trail running people and it seems like a good opportunity. If I don't feel up to it after the half-marathon, I may show up anyway and volunteer for the race instead.


    • #30650

      Hey man, nice race and nice improvements, it is hard to improve that much, maybe in your next race you can run sub 16:00 as your improvements are by 40 seconds:D, keep posting your reports.

    • #30651
      Andrew A.

      Good racing!

    • #30652

      Nice race. Those are some solid improvements, regardless of the underlying reasons.

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