I picked this up last night at the Summer Sunset 5K in Geneva. It was a race that I had covered several times for the paper and is great event. It has a great history too, as lots of great local runners have run -- and won -- the event. The first year I covered it, the race was won by Dan Huling, who will represent the United States in the 3000m steeplechase at the World Championships of Track and Field in Moscow next week. It's also been won by Lukas Verzbicas, who was an incredible cross country runner in Illinois when he was in high school and is now one of the top young triathletes in the world.
For all the years I've covered it I thought "man, I should do this race sometime!". So, last night I finally did, and I came away very impressed. The race is incredibly well-organized and the course is pretty fast.
The weather was pretty decent too. Usually it's boiling for the race, sometimes despite the start time of 7:15 p.m. the heat index has often been in the mid to high 90s. In fact last year it was so hot that they cancelled the race altogether. So I'll take the 75 degrees or so at race time, can't get much better than that this time of the year.
Since I had run 33:53 at my previous 5K in late May, I came into this one feeling confident that I could chop a couple of minutes off of that. Actually, I was hoping I could come home in about a 10-minute pace, which would be right around 31 minutes. When the race started I was feeling good and got a burst of adrenaline, and as a result went out waaayyyy too fast.
How fast, you ask? Try 9:06 fast. Ouch. As I approached the first mile clock I couldn't quite see it as I didn't have my contacts in, so I looked at my watch and saw that 30 yards from the clock I was at about 8:56. My awesome girlfriend, Darcy (more on her in future blogs), was there and told me later she was caught off guard in seeing me since she didn't expect me to come by for another minute or so.
She was surprised? How do you think I felt? At this point as crazy as it sounds I didn't think I could run a 9:06 on a track actually trying to run a fast mile!
I spent the next mile or so trying to settle into a pace I could take to the finish. Trust me, by the midway point of the race I was hurting! I eventually dropped to 10:33 for the second mile, but by then was getting my breathing under control and felt like I was good to go to the finish.
It was a bit of a grind to get to the finish, but I ran a 10:12 third mile and cruised it in to finish in 30:46. It was one of those races that felt so hard while I was doing it, but so good and so satisfying when it was over.
For a second, I was mad at myself for going out so fast, but then I had to laugh. Seriously, I've spent most of the last 24 hours laughing every time I think of it. I mean, 9:06 was so ridiculous and so out of the realm of what I thought I could do, it was crazy! My positive spin was I ran the race like a cross country race -- I went balls out at the start and tried to hang on.
I can't be mad...I picked up over three minutes from my last 5K and my goal of breaking 30 minutes before the end of the year is still a reality.
So I had a couple slices of Papa John's pizza after the race and went home happy. It's just been a really satisfying summer for my running. I'm far from setting the world on fire but at the same time I'm running about as consistently as I ever have and I see improvement coming little by little.
I hope to run another 5K over Labor Day weekend, maybe 30 minutes will be possible by then!