Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Worcester Celtic 5k...well, at least the first race of the season is done

This local 5k is normally a race I look forward to every year as an early season fitness test and potential PR. The course is a flat to slight downhill out and back (slight uphill to the finish) that takes place on a completely shut down 6 lane road in the heart of Worcester, MA. There's a parade immediately following the 5k too so there's tons of people lining the course cheering and offering words of encouragement. I was actually nervous to run this race. Why? Well, I haven't raced since the Thanksgiving-day-gut-debacle last year, I lost 6 weeks of real training because of the loss of my dad and its aftermath and I've been dealing with my own mental and physical health trying to "get back on track" to training for this year's racing. Not to mention its a 5k road race...there's no way to bounce back from a poor start...its just a grip it and rip it for speed kind of race.

I mean that's kind of a grin...right?
Was there a race plan? Ya...don't embarrass myself. I decided to seed myself in the first third of the runners (bad idea since there were over 3000) in order to force a slow start and give me something to focus on (getting around people instead of my lack of fitness) as the miles unfolded. The gun goes off and I'm quickly surprised by the amount of walkers, people with strollers and/or the middle of the road that I have to get around. Really? Its a 5k folks...either get to the sides or the back...or else you just become speed bumps. I was also kind of surprised how quickly I was moving toward the front of the pack as we hit the first mile.

Now I told myself I wouldn't look at my watch...I'd just see how I did after the race was over...(ya, like that was gonna actually happen). A quick glance down and I see I hit the first mile on a 6:40 pace. Granted I didn't feel like I was running wide open but...ooph! I normally hit the first mile of this race on a 5:35 or 5:45. A minute off pace...a minute! Quick calculation in my head...if I can hold this pace I could maybe salvage a sub-20min race. Nothing to do now but keep pushing.

As we got to the turn I could see I'd made up ground and was nearing the front of the group (the 15min-5k group was long gone) and I thought if I could bear down the second half of the race maybe this wouldn't be so bad. Then came the slight incline...and then the 2 mile marker...a quick glance saw that I was in the high 13's...and it was like I could feel all the energy just bleed out of me. I had that realization that the rest of the race is going to be a "just get through it" kind of thing. That last 1.1 miles was not enjoyable in the least. I mean the end of a race never is but when compounded with the realization of just how badly the race was going, it was sheer agony. A rarity for race, they actually had a 3 mile marker and I was afraid to look down to see my time at this point...and I have to admit that last ".1" miles seemed like forever away.

I crossed the line in 21:37, 67th overall and 10th in my age group. Not a result that I'm happy about but one that given the last few month, I have to be happy with. I crossed the line gasping for air so it wasn't the lack of desire for the race, it was the lack of fitness. Lesson learned. Now to go find another race this weekend...


  1. Don't think twice about it buddy, stick to it and your speed will come back soon.

  2. Thanks man! I'm hoping to build on this race and get my speed back as training and the season progress.