Surprised, to say the least.
That pretty well captures my reaction to my first attempt at racing a 5k on Friday night. The only other time I did a 5K was a run/walk with my son last year, where I finished in 217th place out of 218 participants. I though at least I could build on that finish.
I felt pretty sure I could hold around a 7:00 mile pace for the whole race, and I knew that based on last year’s results that would give me a shot at a good finishing place. When we lined up for the start I saw a couple guys that looked pretty serious, with the tell-tale shaved legs to go with the fact that they were actually toeing the starting line, so I figured I’d try and stay close to them for pacing. They went out fast – honestly too fast for me, but we all got left in the dust by a kid that blazed out of the start and never looked back. I figured he would burn out after a couple of miles, but he never slowed down. I think he might still be running.
After about a mile I was feeling pretty good, and was moving along in 5th place. After mile 2 I was in 3rd place, but really only running with one other runner since turbo-boy was so far ahead we couldn’t even see him. The guy in second was actually the husband of a woman my wife works with, who just randomly happened to be at the same race. This guy has done multiple Ironmans, marathons, a 50-mile Ultra, and just did his first 100-mile Ultra a couple months ago. Super nice, super down-to-Earth guy, but when I saw him at the start I figured he was going to eat everyone alive. On a hill around mile 2 I caught up to him and passed him, and still felt pretty good. The whole course was surprisingly hilly. For some reason I assumed it would be much flatter.
The last 1.1 miles I tried to push the pace and hoped I wouldn’t flame out. By the time I crossed the line the kid that won had already changed his clothes, eaten his dinner, and was doing his homework, but I still felt good and completely surprised that I held the pace I did. I was so surprised that it took at least a minute before my brain turned from pudding back into a functioning organ and I realized that I hadn’t stopped my watch at the finish. Thus my finish time was … ?????. No idea. Nothing posted online yet, and I also didn’t think to ask anyone after taking full advantage of the free post-race beers. All I have are the splits for miles 1-3:
Now the focus shifts back to my first 50k in less than 2 weeks. At this point I just hope that I stay healthy for the next 12 days, that the weather cooperates, and that the high tide on race day doesn’t force us to run in the water too much. I’d like to have some skin left on my feet by the time I reach the finish. More importantly, I’m planning all the assorted food I’ll be eating after the race that I haven’t had in the three months since I decided to lose some weight before the race. Mmmmm … pizza.