Run For All Ages 5K
Saturday, November 7, 2009
5K – Flat
17:57 (5:48 pace)
9th Overall of ~500
1st Age Group
Mile 1 – 5:42
Mile 2 – 5:53
Mile 3.1 – 6:21
Finish Line – Image courtesy of Jim Rhoades (http://www.jimrhoades.com)
With the Philadelphia Marathon as my target race for the fall only two weeks away, the long runs and speed work behind me, I decided to fine-tune my top end speed by doing the Run For All Ages 5K at the lake in the nearby town of Wakefield.
Run For All Ages is no stranger to me. I won my age group there in 2008 by clocking 18:07, good for 9th place overall. This year I was set on defending my title.
(2008 Race Report: https://ironboy.wordpress.com/2008/11/08/run-for-all-ages-5k/)
After warming up with strides and some at-pace running, I wiggled into the front of the race, right on the starting line. One thing was apparent: The field this year, with 500 total participants, was far greater than last year. And this year, there were also many more “fasties.”
Frankie, a fast friend, joked “We’ll be lucky to break Top-20 with this field.”
He was right. Last year I had finished 9th in a field of 300. This year the field was nearly double. I would have to fight for this one.
Before long the race was on. Over the first half mile I was sitting squarely in Top-15 and moving my way up. My warm-up prior to the race had been sufficient, as I was already running comfortably at-pace. Breathing was labored yet under control. Pace was fast but not frantic. My form was good and I was in control.
Just before Mile 1 (5:42) the course took a hard right where, one by one, the leaders and those in front of me streamed. Like counting beans, I discovered I was now sitting in 11th place with 10th in striking distance. Be patient, I preached to myself. I’ll get it. When it’s ready.
Suddenly time was ripe. I made the pass, somehow knowing there would be no counter for a slot in the Top-10.
Through Mile 2 (5:53) I kept evenly as possible. I was running hard, riding redline, but trying to save something for the mile, where I knew there would be a rise in the road that would expose any runner ahead of me who hadn’t been so cautious. That was my time to try to strike again. So this mile had been about comfortably as possible working my way up to the two runners in front of me, one of which was in first place in my age group, with me in second.
As the rise was coming, with me now sitting in 10th place overall, 2nd in age group, one of the two runners ahead of me surged ahead with the other – the leader of my age group – not responding. I used that as a mark to make my own move, because I knew that by the time I pulled even, we would be on the hill, and nobody but nobody would beat me there. My goal was to pull ahead on the short rise in the road and get as many paces up as possible, because once the road leveled out, I knew, there would be no passing, as we were all dialed in to the same pace.
And that’s exactly what happened. I made my move just before the hill, pulled even with the guy in 1st place in my age group, and then pulled ahead by as many paces as possible. When the flat came I knew I had it. Because there was no shadow encroaching my space, nor was there footsteps heard. I had taken 1st place in age group and climbed into 9th overall.
Through Mile 3 and on to the finish (1.1 miles in 6:21), that’s where I stayed. I hadn’t once thought about the time on the clock, so I was surprised to see the sub-18 minutes easily in hand. It occurred to me just than that this race might have been an all-time PR for me at the 5K distance. Either way, if I had run under 18 before, it wasn’t in the last 15 years.