So, yes I'm still getting back up to speed "literally and figuratively" from the doctor prescribed time off due to the knee sprain. And by the looks of last month's 13.1 and my ruining times of late it seems like I'm about a month behind where I wanted to be. However, I really like this Celtic 5k run in downtown Worcester MA and I registered for it months ago...so...why not take the knee out for a spin and see how I do with some straight up speed?
Rather than recap the race all over again, you can read about it here from my running of last year's event. Bottom line, the course is a relatively flat out and back, with TONS of spectators and its supported very well. And...it draws a lot of racers. Yes, not runners, racers. So you can expect the times for the top 25 will be around 5min/mile mark. I ran my 5k PR (19:54) there last year and came in 63rd overall out of 1426. Not bad for an old guy :)
This year however...I had no such visions of grandeur. This year was all about seeing how hard could push the knee, gauge my fitness and not embarrass myself with a crap time (a crap time for me mind you. Read my post on race times to see what I mean).
Luckily, it was a nice cool morning as I lined up at the start. The gun goes and I'm off. My initial plan was to run what would feel like a "pushed" pace. Not flat out but nowhere near comfortable until I hit the first mile marker. Now, last year I turned the first mile at 5:55 and thought I had LOTS of gas left.....this year I hit it at 6:30 and realized there was NO way I could maintain that pace! So, quick plan of try to keep pushing until I hit the turn and see how I felt for the push to the finish. Now, I REALLY love out and back races. Firstly, because of my competitive nature and ADD, I can count how many people are in front of me and get a sense of where I am in the field. By my count heading into the turn today I was somewhere in the mid 70s, not bad considering there were over 1900 at the race. Secondly, because I like getting to see the other people racing and give thumbs up to friends I have in the race and it motivates me to push harder to the finish.
The race while being relatively flat does have a slight uphill the last mile plus. Not a big one but just enough to take the speed off. I could see people slowing and knew I needed to dig in. I hit mile 2 at 13:20 and realized I was fading fast but the knee felt great. I figured I might as well lean into it and push for the finish. Crossed the line in 20:53 and 77th overall. A full minute off last years pace and 14 places deeper than last year. Yes, I know that it was still a good race. The knee felt great and I the time wasn't bad...but...as that picture can attest...I wasn't happy with the result. Well, back to training, speed work and time to get back to racing.