This post is a few days late, but it’s been a busy week. Last Sunday I ran the America’s Finest City 5k, which is put on in correlation with the half marathon. The half marathon draws elites because of it’s prize money, but the 5k is more of a local show. I got to the starting line early and looked to see who would show up. There was a high school kid next to me who acted like he didn’t belong there and was copying everyone elses stretches. It was an odd sight. Then I saw a couple guys with shoe store jerseys. I knew they’d be my main competition.
My strategy was to go out with the lead pack and hopefully hit the first mile in 5:08. The start is uphill and by the time I was at the fountain and the terrain leveled out, I was in oxygen debt. I looked at my Garmin and read 4:58. Okay, now I know why. I was probably in 8th place as I ran across the bridge in Balboa Park thinking it wasn’t going as well as I was hoping. I felt a little defeated when I went through the first mile in 5:17. I’d trained for faster. But then I got my head right and reminded myself to run my own race. The leader had distanced himself from the chase pack quickly after the first mile. I was slowly gaining on that pack and figured I should hang on. In the second mile I passed a couple runners and finally caught the back of the chase pack, only to have it break up and see two go off the back. I felt strong but didn’t feel like I could go much faster. We split the second mile in 5:10, the fastest mile I’ve ever run in a 5k. At this point you round back from Marston Point and it’s a long and tough uphill. The two guys in front of me were starting to falter and I took the opportunity to pass them as they were running two wide. I thought they’d hang with me, but neither matched my momentum. I was now in second place. The leader was so far ahead that I could see the lead bike, but not the runner.
I powered up the crest of the hill and made the right turn onto Balboa Dr to be cheered on by my friend Charlie. That always helps. I made the turn onto El Prado and glanced behind me to see what kind of lead I had. It was only about 10 yards. The walkers were still crossing the bridge on the first mile and cheered me on loudly as I passed. I started pushing, getting my breathing to about 99% knowing that as soon as I hit the fountain it was about a quarter mile downhill. I glanced behind me again and saw that I had gained on my pursuers and felt pretty confident I had 2nd place locked up. I made the turn and started my long kick. I went through mile 3 in 5:34 and the pace for the last split was 4:37/mi so I finished well. I came in 2nd place in 16:44, 2 seconds ahead of third. The winner, Dave Edwards, ran a 15:03 to destroy the field. He ran a 4:05.99 mile a few months back, so there’s no shame in coming in second. I definitely beat who I was supposed to and had fun actually racing rather than just time trialing.
About the time, it’s a little disappointing, but I realize that Balboa Park makes for a hilly 5k and I wasn’t going sub-16 without some oxygen tanks strapped to my body. 16:44 is a pretty decent time considering the hills. I would wager that I’m in 16:0X shape if we ran on a flat course. So I need to find a flat 5k in the next few months to really see what shape I’m in. Shelter Island 5k looks promising.
2nd place in the AFC 5k doesn’t garner much of an award. The winner got a plaque. I got an age group prize, which was the half marathon finisher’s medal with “AFC 5k” engraved on the back. Too bad.
This Sunday I’m running the Fire Run in Pacific Beach. 4 miles, slightly downhill, we’ll see if I can push close to 5k pace. It’ll be a fun one.