Yesterday was the Soda City Crit, formerly known as the Main Street Crit. This race is a 5k running race and was my first blog post on this site 2 years ago which can be found here. 2 years ago this race was on New Year’s Eve and I participated in the Open race. After my performance last weekend with a 30 second PR, Mark Bedenbaugh convinced me to do this race again but as part of the Elite race.
I was excited to do this race but also did not want to put my training on hold so I kept my training volume moderately high leading into the race. I figured I may not PR again but I would at least put forth a good effort. I picked up my packet the day before the race at the Mast General Store in Downtown Columbia and awaited the 9:30am start the next morning.
After sleeping in a bit I arrived to the race just in time to see the Open 5k starting. I had fun watching a bunch of friends doing the race and cheered them on while trying to snap a few pictures. As people started finishing the Open 5k race I began my warmup and scoped out the course a bit. It was the same as a couple years ago in that it was just under 6 loops around a couple blocks of Main Street in Downtown Columbia. There was a slight incline on the backside of the course before turning into a slight decline heading into the finish line area. Out of the 4 corners on the course one was empty, one had a bus stop full of people (some of which were smoking right next to the course), one had a live band, and one was the finishing chute. This was all set up to keep the motivation going as you ran in circles around Main Street!
Eventually the Elite field got lined up for the start and the announcements were made. I hadn’t met many of the guys in the Elite field but recognized many of their names from seeing them at the top of many race results in the past. I was definitely not the big dog in this race. The race began and I went out at my usual fast and relaxed pace. The difference for this race though is that instead of pulling away as I normally do, I was beginning to fall back slightly. A pack of about 7 athletes started to pull away a bit as we made our way up the first incline. I was very tempted to go with them, but I knew it would not be smart to hang with guys who I know can go under 15 minutes in a 5k. Instead I decided to keep my pace and hope some of them may pop off before the finish.
I stayed about 5 seconds back of that pack for the entire first lap before a few of the faster ones began to pull away. I could also tell that there were a few runners tagging along directly behind me waiting for their chance to make a move (including Eric Ashton and Orinthal Striggles). I held my pace through the second lap and heard my watch go off signaling the first mile. When I looked down and saw 4:59 for the first mile I got pretty concerned. I didn’t know if I could hold that pace, much less go faster for 2+ more miles and feared that I had gone out too fast! All I could do was keep chugging and hope that it was going to be a good day. The next couple laps were uneventful until one of the runners behind me (Matt Shock) made a move and pulled in front of me. I started pacing off of him and spotted a runner up ahead that was fading at the same time. I was hurting pretty bad with 2 laps to go, but not bad enough to let up on the pace as I came through mile 2 in 5:00.
I pushed the final 2 laps hard and although the runner that had passed me pulled ahead a bit, I was able to catch and pass the fading runner in the final lap. My watch spat out 5:00 for mile 3 and I turned up the effort leading into the finishing downhill. I came through the line in 15:50 in 7th place and a 10 second PR over last week! I’m very satisfied with my finishing time and placement in such an intense race. The next 3 runners were all within 15 seconds ahead but I know that I would not have been able to go any faster to catch any of them. All I can hope for is to keep getting faster and catch them in future races!
Rebekah and I had fun walking around the Soda City Market afterwards that goes on every Saturday on Main Street while we waited for awards to start. The Elite race paid money for the top 10 finishers so I was very happy to do as well as I did! Steven Johnson did a great job organizing this race and I will definitely be back in 2017. This will be the last road race I do for awhile as I begin to focus on growing my training volume in preparation for a big season in 2017. Only 2 weeks until I leave for Arizona!