What better way to kick off the New Year 2010 than with a race? Well, for most of the past several years I have started it off as a volunteer at the NCRC Resolution Run 5K but I decided I wanted to give racing it a shot and get an idea of how the training has been going so far.
The race is held on NCSU's Centennial Campus and is by no means a flat fast course. You don't expect to run a pr here unless you've never run a 5k before. Of course I'll never set a 5k PR again but it is fun to see how fast I can push myself and occasionally do well in age-group placing.
We were really lucky with the weather, in the mid-40's and the rain from last night had stopped. I arrived about an hour before the start and with about 30 minutes to go I went for a warm-up mile with Jenn for company. A few last minute preparations and we headed over to the starting line. A quick look around revealed a lack of some of the really speedy runners from the area so we lined up right at the front with a couple of hundred others behind us.
NCRC president Brad said go and I took off at what felt like a fast but reasonable pace. The first half-mile is downhill so it's important to get a fast start but not too fast because the hills are coming. Before the race I had wondered if I might be able to break 23 minutes here. I felt confident of going under 22 on a flat course but I knew this would a difficult and painful race. At the last minute I decided to go ahead and aim for 22:30. If I couldn't do it at least the pain would still be over quickly. Blowing up in a 5k is a lot different than blowing up in a marathon or ultra.
I passed the one mile mark 6:46 which was about right considering that it was mostly downhill. I could count the runners ahead at the turn and I was in 38th place. Mile two was a different animal altogether. A short uphill, a short downhill and then continuous climbing. I backed off the pace trying to maintain the effort but it was still hurting and I huffed and puffed that mile in 7:28.
The course continued to climb and by the time it finally leveled off I was gasping but as soon as I made the turn I quickly recovered and was able to get back up to speed and began the push to the finish. I was now in 35th place at the turn and steadily moving by people on the downhill and with a 10th to go I found a bit of a sprint. It's nice to have zip in the legs again ! Woohoo !! 22:20 !!!
I'm not sure what my overall place was but it was in the top 30 and that was good enough for 3rd in the 50-59 age-group. I feel the effort was my best since 2005 when I ran 21:12 on a flat course in Selma. Obviously the hard work, higher mileage and track runs are paying off and I believe as good as I felt today that there will be a lot of good times in the year ahead. Now lets see how it pays off when I go 10 times the distance at the Frosty 50k next weekend !