Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Classis 5k...where I was classic me...

Year two of running the Winter Classic 5k in Cambridge but I really like this course. Its a pretty flat out and back loop. I don't know why I'm such a fan of doubling back (ONLY for 5ks of course) but I really like seeing more runners. I play the head game that they'll never catch me and I turn up the pace.

So, after finding and acutal parking space on a side street (who's not paying $20 for parking for 2 hours in downtown Cambridge? THIS guy!), J and I headed to packet pick up. Now one of the cool things about this race last year was that on top of getting a race shirt you also were also randomly chosen to either win a cool embroidered head the spirit of the season...a piece of coal. I thought that was hilarious! I of course got the head warmer last year and J got coal which I found to be even MORE funny but no such merriment this year. It seems that people were offended by getting coal last year and the race stopped doing it. Really peope? I mean REALLY?! Geez, lighten up a bit!

I did finally meet twitter friend Danielle. A wicked cool, chick totally deck out in her best Christmas apparel for the race (see pic below) and we milled around the start. Ah yes, the start. I told myself that I had no intentions of "racing" today or setting a PR but as race time got closer I found myself magically pulled toward the front and calculating pace times in my head (classic me). And while I was crunching numbers I heard the gun go off. Now I've been trying a different approach to racing the last few races. Rather than get so fixed on the pace on my Polar RCX5G5, I'd just hang with the "lead" group of the race and try to settle in. I read an article a few months ago that one of the reason Ryan Hall was having an issue at races was his watch said he was going too fast so he would layoff and then eventually not be able to bridge the gap back to the leaders. Yes, I k,ow I'm NO Ryan hall but it does make sense. Your body performs differently on race day and if you can hold a pace, you should. Don't let your mind work against you.

We went out at a good pace. And by "we" I mean the 2nd lead group after the gazelles that take off at a 5k. We hit the 1st mile marker on a 6:20 pace. Not fast but not slow either. Now 5ks are an interesting race. Or at least to me they are. Unlike a 10k or greater distance, there's no "blowing up" on a 5k, just run as fast as you can and then at the halfway point or or 3 mile marker, turn on the jets. Well, due to my extreme concentration...or whatever...I totally missed seeing the 1 mile marker. As we hit the turn, I knew that we were moving pretty fast but we're headed home so I needed to turn up the speed. Now I also had motivation to continue pressing the pace. This tiny (like sub 5 foot) girl with a gymnast's build was right on my shoulder the whole way. Now, I don't like having ANYONE on my shoulder for a race but I dislike it even more when its a cute little girl who looked to be in her mid 20's there. There's no way she's getting by me so I need to step it up. I will say I took great pride in passing people wearing local runner's club kit. They looked like runners and here this broken old guy was passing them (insert smile here).

The crew post race
We hit the 2nd mile marker and I was a little tired but there's only 1.2 miles left so I need to get my butt in gear. I leaned forward, started to pump my arms and frantically pushed to get separation from the gymnast girl. There's a right hand turn into the finish with a cop car, lights flashing to mark the turn. When I saw it from about a 1/4 mile away I just gave it all I had. As I made the turn I could see the clock. It was in the high 19's. Are you kidding me?! My 5k PR is 19:54! For a race that I wasn't "racing" I was close to my PR?! Running I did some math (which if you know me you know tapped all of my mental reserves) and realized even running wide open at this point I'd finish around a 20 flat. Damnit!

Sure enough I crossed the line with 20:08...14 seconds off my PR. Yes, I know its still a good time, but to know I was that close while still feeling "good" during a race is a little frustrating. Good take away was that my pace was constant between 6:20-6:25 throughout the race. Unlike the 5k PR race I had where I went out at a 5:45 first mile and spent the rest of the race trying to hold on. That race was a year ago and here I am a year later (and older) and I came close to that time with little train up. I also knocked 90 seconds off my time from last year's race on the same course. So not bad and good learning points, so much for not "racing it". Luckily I could drown my thoughts in a GREAT post race breakfast at Friendly Toast afterwards...

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