Originally for this weekend I had intended to compete in the Move for the Music 5k being put on by the White Knoll High School Marching Band. I was pretty excited for this as I had helped a bit with the planning and was going to be playing the tuba before the race! Unfortunately the race was postponed until next April to get more interest for the race. This left me looking at either finding another 5k race to do or just turning it into another weekend of training. When making my internet searches I noticed that there were 2 races going on that same Saturday. The Flood Strong 5k in the morning and the Harborside Lights 5k in the evening. The last time I did a double dip (2 races in one day) was last February and after some deliberation I decided to go for it! (last February’s double dip https://feighathlon.com/2016/02/02/double-5k/)
The first race was the inaugural Flood Strong 5k being put on by Ryan Plexico and Strictly Running to benefit those affected by last year’s floods. The race was located in the Shandon neighborhood in Columbia with the same course as the Hot Summer’s Night 5k. This is a well known course for being pretty flat, fast, and PR friendly. While I didn’t know how my legs would handle the speed of a 5k, I figured this would be my best shot at a PR! The morning of the race was particularly cold with temperatures in the 20’s but I happen to love racing in the cold. I’d rather be going numb than overheating anytime. After a proper warm up with Timothy and shedding some layers it was time to line up. After a couple speeches and the National Anthem the race began!
This race was a bit different for me in that I did not wear a watch and didn’t have any way to measure pace or time. My current watch has been messing up lately and the next one is in the mail meaning that I was going completely by feel. At the start I immediately separated myself from the rest of the field with a relaxed, but fast pace. I was fairly confident that I could hold it throughout the 5k but had no idea how fast I was actually going. I knew the course slightly but was relying primarily on the road markings and the police car leading me. I continued on running blindly trying to take advantage of the slight downhills and pushing myself on the small inclines.
At the turnaround I was hurting some but my legs were still cooperating well and I knew that a PR may just happen. I was pretty relieved to see the finishing chute when I made the final turn and began to pick it up a bit. That’s when I saw the clock. I was still under 16 minutes but not by much. Once I realized I could go sub 16 potentially I put in a strong kick but still attempted to keep form. I ran straight through the finish and I knew it was close! Later I would come to learn that although my time recorded as 15:59.11, USA Track and Field rounds all of its results up to the next second. Thus making my “official” time 16:00 flat.
This was a 30 second PR for me over the 16:30 that I did the last time I did a double 5k! This sort of gain is huge for me especially considering that I haven’t been focusing much on this distance in particular. As many know, as you get faster in the your athletic career it can get harder and harder to shave off time from your previous bests. This gives me confidence that I have not quite reached the point of marginal gains, but still have a good amount of potential left in me!
While my legs still felt reasonably fresh after this effort, I knew that another PR like this would be unlikely later in the day at the Harborside Lights 5k. I rested well around the house and did an easy hour long bike ride to loosen up. I felt good to go when I arrived at Lake Carolina (the site of the next race) but decided I wouldn’t bury myself in fatigue with another hard effort.
The atmosphere at Lake Carolina for the Harborside Lights 5k was amazing! There were tons of people around as there was more going on in the plaza other than the race. This includes carriage rides, pictures with Santa, multiple food trucks, mini donuts, a stage with a performers, a magician, and even balloon animals! This race had the best entertainment value I had ever seen! About 5:30pm we all lined up and got a one minute countdown for the start of the race and then we were off. I bounded to the front in my Bison hat (the one I got from the Hairy Bison 30k) and within 100 meters had no idea where to go…
With all of the traffic at Lake Carolina for all the festivities, the lead car had gotten stuck. We were on our own! It didn’t help that I had neglected to look at a single course map. One runner shouted “TO THE LEFT” and saved me from navigating around Lake Carolina completely lost. He proceeded to tell me the next couple directions at which point there were volunteers that began to navigate me through Lake Carolina. While it was getting dark outside there was still plenty of light from the street lights as well as bags with candles in the them lining the course. Just over a mile in (I’m assuming, still no watch…) The lead car had made it’s way back and began leading again. I learned that I was probably 20-30 seconds ahead at an out and back section and just continued on at a comfortable/hard pace.
As I continued weaving my way through the course there were a couple times when I nearly passed the lead car again but didn’t have any serious issues until the final quarter mile. We came upon an intersection with a car that was turning around and completely blocking us. I chose to wait a few seconds rather than risking anything and then took off in front of the lead car. This was just before the finish and I knew where to go at this point. I put on a strong finish and came through the clock at 17:39. I heard a couple people say the course may have been a bit long, and between that and the stops I made I was pretty happy with how it went. I predict that I held just over a 5:20 min/mile pace on the hillier course which shows just how good my run fitness is doing at the moment.
Over the course of the day I was also convinced to compete in the Soda City Crit (formerly known as the Main Street Crit) being put on next weekend. If you look all the way back to my first post on this blog, you can see when I competed in that race 2 years ago on New Year’s Eve. The only difference is this year I’ll be competing in the ELITE field! Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself…