This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
August started out very poorly for training and I was just recovering from a light ankle sprain ten days before race day so I had mixed feelings about my possible race performance. I had a great workout on Tuesday so I did have some confidence.
The weather seemed less than ideal with a mix between a light rain and a heavy mist. The winds were less than ten MPH so that was good.
I did try something new this time and that was eat something about three hours before the race. I, as always drink a lot of water and some Gatorade.
I like to be early to races "just in case," so I got there in plenty of time. I proceeded to pick up my t-shirt and bib and noticed that there was no timing chip. That’s fine – old fashioned scoring and gun time – works for me. As I was pining my bib on the iconic blue Hillrunner Team Shirt Ryan, my friend and coach, pulled up next to my car. We chatted which helped calm my always nervous energy before a race.
We went out for a warm-up of about two miles and Ryan gave me some excellent pointers regarding the course. I stretched some (very little actually) and very lightly and did some easy strides. It was then time to line up at the starting line.
Upon the command of "go" we all took off. After making a tight turn onto the streets I decided to check my Garmin to be sure I wasn’t heading out to fast – especially since I was pretty dang close to Ryan who usually beats me by about two to two and a half minutes in a 5K and holding pretty steady tied for third. "Shoot!" 10.3 MPH and I was hoping to go out at 9.8 for the first 3/4 miles. I dialed it back a bit knowing there was a hill somewhere in the first half of the race but I didn’t want to lose to much ground on third.
I normally check my Garmin every 1/4 mile to see my splits but this time I didn’t check it too often at all. As we hit the hill I decided to make my move on third place so I reeled him in and started to create some space. From there I started to push for what I thought was too hard but wanted to see what I could do. I started to close the gap on second a bit but then he and Ryan pulled away.
I was in no-man’s land. I was losing sight of Ryan and the second place guy and fourth was no-where in sight behind me. This is where the mental battle started. Why should I endure this pain with about 1.25 miles to go when I could ease up and still take third? So I started to back off a hair and then thought – NO!!!!!! I want to come in under 19 minutes and get a solid 20 some second PR.Plus I was coming up on the downhill portion of the race.
The downhill is great! Not too steep at all but just steep enough to lean into it and pick up some extra momentum that didn’t cost that much energy. By the time that I was getting close to the finish line (almost a full loop around the track and then a very tight turn headed to the 50 yard line on the field) I was really hurting and not driving it as hard as I could. Until. Ryan yelled "under 19" "go Ed". That is when I dug in deep and pushed hard for that last 250 yards or so.
Crossed the line looking at the clock and I was elated 18:30. A new PR in the 5K that was almost a minute quicker than last year on a faster course with better weather.
Thank you Coach Hill!!!