This article was originally posted by Ed at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.
I like to be pretty early to my races so when I was leaving 15 minutes behind schedule I was a bit anxious but I still had plenty of time. I arrived on-site and walked to check in and pick up my race packet. I asked if Ryan Hill had checked in yet and they stated that he had. I went back to my car to pin on the race bib and noticed only two pins in the packet. Its a good thing I always have at least eight pins in my car at all times. After pinning on my race bib I went to find Ryan. I knew where he liked to park at this race so I headed over there and sure enough he was there.
We talked a bit about life in general then prepared for a warm-up. I mentioned that based on some of my workout paces I thought if everything went perfect I could maybe pull-off a 5:50 pace. The warm up was easy paced and just about 1.4 miles. We did some light stretching and then I did some strides trying to zero in on what 10.2 MPH felt like.
As the start of the race drew near we all lined up. At the gun a large group of individuals took off pretty hard. I stayed with them letting Ryan and a few others start to pull away. At about the 1/4 mile mark I checked the Garmin and we were at nearly 11 MPH – way ahead of my pace. I thought "crap I am going to finish a whole lot worse than 4th or 5th place." I slowed a bit trying to zero in on my 10.2 MPH. Part of the group was pulling away but as we neared the 3/4 mile point a big part of them faded hard and I easily caught and passed them. I could still see Ryan and the other leaders even though it was a course with lots of turns. I settled in with the chase group and tried to find my stride. At about the 1 mile mark it felt a bit slow so I checked my Garmin and we were at 9.7 MPH – way to slow.
I started to slide to the side to pass the group but a guy slid over in front of me each time I tried. Since we had picked up the pace a bit to 10 MPH I though I would tuck in very close behind him literally on his heals to where I had to match his cadence and stride or I would hit his feet. I knew he would get sick of that eventually and by 1.25 miles he let me go and I pushed it and left them all in my dust.
As we neared 1.75 miles I knew I would now have to do a gut check – I felt like I was at my fastest 5K race ever and was thinking about how I would hold on to this pace. At about 2.25 miles I stared to look ahead and see if I could catch the guy in front of me. He seemed pretty out of reach he had what I tried to count as about a 40 second lead on me. I looked back and saw that I had a pretty large lead on anyone else. I was in no-man’s land. I hate being in this position. No real chance of passing the guy in front of me and a nearly impossible lead to lose a position from the guy behind me.
I had nothing to push me except my determination to go after a PR – my Garmin is set up a bit different as it a a newer one to me and I didn’t know what my overall time was at this point. So I didn’t know if I had a shot at a PR or not.
Ryan and I had ran part of the finish as our warm-up so we knew where to start the finishing drive and final kick. As I approached the 2nd to last turn I noticed I had been closing the gap on the guy in front of me but still had no chance to pass him unless he had a catastrophic issue. Into that 2nd to last turn I started to push it a bit more my breathing was labored but not out of control. I built speed towards that final turn and once I completed that final turn I started to push very hard giving my final kick.
My eyes aren’t 20/20 so I couldn’t read the clock until I got pretty close – I saw it showing 18:13 and was excited. I knew I would get a good new PR but still remembered to run through the finish line and not to it. Had no idea what my final time was – I just knew that it was good.
After a good cool down with Ryan of just over 2 miles – we got back just in time for the awards. A guy named Adam walked up to us and we found out that Ryan was 3rd overall (Adam 4th) and I managed 5th overall. Not bad. It took a while to get to my old man’s age group and was pleased with an age-group win. Second in my age group was one minute 16 seconds behind me. That is an easy age group win. I had narrowed the gap between myself and 4th place to 23 seconds (still a ton) and managed to hold the lead on 6th place to 47 seconds.
Overall a great race but I made a few mistakes. I could have cut all of the tangents a bit better and could have pushed a tiny but more. I usually want to fall to the ground at the end of a race but I didn’t this time. That will have to corrected for my next 5K in early June.