After what I would call a success in my first 10k road race last weekend I decided it was time to test out what my legs could do. This meant shortening the distance and racing a 5k. The last 5k road race I did (without other sports directly before or after) was the Main Street Crit on the last day of 2014. I fully tapered for that race and set a great Personal Best of 16:43. That pace is currently where I have been doing a large portion of my speed work so I was hopeful I could replicate or even improve. The only decision left was when and where to go for it!
Upon looking around there were actually 2 great races going on in Columbia and both were 5k’s! While looking at them I noticed that they started 2 hours apart from each other and a crazy idea popped in my head.
And this is how I ended up spending my Friday afternoon travelling to 2 different running stores to pick up my packets for 2 different races on Saturday morning.
The first race was the Run with the Saints 5k and begins next to St Joseph’s Catholic School and the Shandon neighborhood of Columbia, SC. Indeed, the course was again very flat and shared a few roads with the Red Shoe Run from the previous week. If I wanted to run a 5k PR, then this wouldn’t be a bad route to choose. The creeping thought of another round of pain reminded me to not get carried away and to simply put in a solid effort to test my fitness. I was hoping that this would be a fairly small race that wouldn’t give me much competition so I could save the good legs for the later race. This train of thought ended abruptly once I found out that apparently most of the running studs of Columbia randomly decided to show up for the race.
I attempted to get a good start and was surrounded by children about half my height. I was ensured that this was the 5k start and not the Kid’s Fun Run and shortly after the start command was issued. Immediately I was swarmed by a half dozen kids sprinting in front of me in a mad dash to be the first one to the 50 meter mark. After some side stepping and pretty fancy footwork I found myself coming together with Jonathan Kinsey, Orinthal Striggles, and a younger kid a few paces ahead. Both Jonathan and Orinthal are very strong runners who regularly post the fastest 5k times around that often get down to low or sub 16 minutes. I have also never beaten either of these 2 or even come within 30 seconds. I attempted to lighten the mood a bit with some conversation but neither seemed in the mood. It seemed that both of them would much rather make the next 15+ minutes of my life torture.
By the first mile we were all still running together and had surpassed the younger kid with a first mile at 5:15. This was later referred to by Jonathan as a “conservative start”. The effort didn’t feel too high and the other two looked in control as well until at about mile 1.5 Orinthal started to back off. This was a great relief but my competitive side wouldn’t let me stray from Jonathan’s side. We clicked off mile 2 at 5:19 and I still felt surprisingly well. At this point I knew a PR was in store as long as I kept the effort in check. At mile 2.5 we came up on our first larger hill on the course and Jonathan began to pick it up and put some distance on me. I knew directly after this hill was a turn leading to the finishing chute and if I went with him it would likely come to a sprint finish. I decided to simply maintain my effort and finished with a strong kick but it wasn’t enough as Jonathan had put about 10 seconds into me in that last half mile. The official time read 16:30 which meant a new PR by 13 seconds and I still felt that I had energy to spare for round 2! After a quick massage, some snacks, and picking up my award, I headed over to Dutch Fork High School for race #2.
The second race was the Be a Fan 5k and was in Memorial for Timothy Wayne Gibson Senior. As many of you may know, Timothy Gibson Jr. was the Best Man at my wedding and we have been through a ton together, including the loss of his father in the SC floods a few months ago. There was no way I would have missed this race and the atmosphere and people were amazing.
Upon arriving to the race site there was one thing I noticed immediately. Orinthal Striggles standing at his car. Apparently Orinthal had the same idea as I did except that he had probably conserved his effort better at the previous race. This meant that there would be no cake walk for race #2 either and the real torture was just about to begin. Luckily, I donned my Batman cycling kit and immediately gained confidence in myself. Did I mention there was a costume contest?! (Spoiler: I didn’t win the costume contest)
I lined up at the start line with Timothy (dressed as Doctor Who), Orinthal (no costume, lame), and another large group of kids. When the horn sounded I was once again swarmed by kids but this time charged around and made sure I was ahead of Orinthal. I knew this course would be much hillier than the 1st race but it didn’t take long to find out that it was also much curvier (see map for ridiculousness). There were frequently times where we were simply led into a parking lot and just went back and forth around barricades in an attempt to kill any momentum that had previously been gained. By mile 1 I was hurting far worse than any point during the prior race but was encouraged to see a 5:19 split. Unfortunately, Orinthal was still only a few steps behind me and I knew letting up at all meant he would take the lead. After another mile of craziness and pain I had gained a few more seconds on Orinthal with a 5:16 split but was by no means comfortable! The effort was very high on the final mile and I threw in a few surges to attempt to drop Orinthal for good and the gap grew just slightly. The final stretch was on the high school track which is where I really turned it on and nearly missed the final turn! After wasting a couple seconds, I realized the finish line was in the middle of the football field and promptly sprinted to a finish time of 16:39. Not only was this also under my previous best of 16:43, but on a much harder course and following a previous hard effort! Orinthal finished a mere 10 seconds back and Doctor Who (Timothy) finished 5th Male in 18:53 after a hiatus due to injuries.
It was a great day and I spent the next few hours with my mom and Timothy’s family hanging out and getting lunch. After finishing the weekend out with a couple more solid workouts I am now entering a rest week before I crank up the intensity again for my build into my A races starting in April. This past week is giving me a lot of great confidence that I can and will reach the goals I have set out for myself! Thanks for reading and I hope I have more good news to report on the next post as well!