Monday, August 18, 2008

Clinton Bluefish 5k

After taking almost two weeks off, with no real workouts over half an hour, it was interesting to step back into the swing of things the hardest way possible- a 5k.

The Clinton Bluefish 5k has become a traditional part (read, two years running) of our eight-person fantasy football draft. Last year we had five GMs run. It was only three this year, but that's still not bad.

I wasn't really sure I was ready to run a 5K after not having run more than half an hour since Sea Legs and only having two decent training runs since the Ironman. I was also concerned everything I'd worked to get to a point of feeling better would go to pieces with one race. Still, I thought I could probably go out and run a smart, controlled race and do OK, if not great.

We got there after an absolutely psychotic bus ride (no onsite parking) and it was late- and then my pre-registration had disappeared mysteriously. Oh well.

I got registered, ran about a mile or so warm-up with Charlie Hornak, and headed back to the start line. There was a short delay for registration, so I did some strides and waited for Ken Platt to move us up to the start line.

The race always seems to draw a big high school crowd, which I try my best to be aware of, but still, it's hard being the old man on the starting line and getting swamped by literally twenty people. Did I say swamped ? I meant elbowed... that's right, elbowed. the high school kid that elbowed me didn't really seem to know what he'd done, and I did my best to let it go. I had to tell myself to just stay in my rhythm and things would work themselves out eventually, to not get involved in trying to move up but rather let people come back to me.

The race starts on a very slight uphill then turns right onto a little more of an uphill. At this point, I was a little worried. Here I was, the old man at 43, running with a bunch of high school kids in around 12th place, breathing harder and louder than anyone else. I hadn't worked hard in two weeks. Moments like this, when you wonder if you really have it, can't last long.

I saw a small bump, a slightly larger rise, and went for it. Just like that I'd gone around a pack of about eight athletes and surged into fourth. I pulled up with the guys in second and third and pushed them a little, but they responded as we turned towards a downhill section.

Despite briefly challenging these two, it became clear that fourth was the best I should be hoping for. Then one of the guys I'd passed, a twenty-something on his way to winning his age group, went by my at a mile and a half and I knew I was going to be fighting for fifth, given his even cadence. Still, I hung on as best I could and went through 2 miles at around 11:32, which suggested to me that I was on 17:45-17:50 pace.

The last mile and change was not easy, but it wasn't unbearably hard either. I held my position as best I could, and came in at 17:50.

It's interesting. After struggling for four years to break 18:00 in a 5K, which is not a distance I'm trained for in any way, I've done it twice in a row six weeks apart. Now 17:50 is hard to get excited about when guys my age like Chris Chisholm can beat that by two minutes without breaking a sweat, but still, I'll definitely take it, and any other sub-18 5Ks that want to come my way.

IM Florida, time to get ready...

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