It’s been a tough week of training – not too many miles but plenty of quality – and going into this 5k race, my legs were definitely feeling it. I ran just over 2 miles as a warm up which actually helped loosen things up a bit and by 8:30am I was lined up on the start line ready to race.
The Lion’s Journey for Sight 5k is held on Fort Story, an army base located on the Chesapeake Bay. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race where it hasn’t been windy at Fort Story, and today was no exception – a brisk 18mph SSW breeze! I didn’t really have a plan for the race and just decided to go out at a fairly fast pace and see what happened. It was more important to have a positive long run on Sunday morning so this was just a glorified workout with the added bonus of having people to run against.
Anyway, after a 5 minute delay, the race started and we were off. Typical of most races I take part in, the younger runners sprinted away and I was left in 10th or 11th place at the half mile mark – working hard but ticking along nicely. I also noticed I felt much quicker than last week’s 5k race where I felt strong but sluggish – today my cadence was much better.
I steadily made my way through the pack and at the one mile mark found myself in 5th place overall (mile split 5:41). I turned the pace up a notch and pulled comfortably into 4th place with the gap on the 3rd place guy (was he in my age group?) reducing nicely. Halfway through the second mile I pulled level with the third place guy who encouraged me to go for 2nd place and informed me he was “just” trying to break 18 minutes today.
The encouragement spurred me on and before we reached mile two (a speedy 5:37) I’d moved into 2nd spot. Try as I might, however, I couldn’t shake him off completely and sensed he was ready to pounce and reclaim 2nd place. With roughly half a mile to go, he drew level and I knew I was in trouble. I surged to try and hold him off, but it was a short-lived effort. He drew level once again and then made a decisive surge of his own.
By mile three he’d gapped me by about 4 or 5 seconds, but I stayed strong and finished the race in 17:46 – second fastest 5k of 2008 and a rare sub-18:00 finish. The most encouraging aspect of the race was the fairly even splits. I usually fade quite badly in the last mile, but today held on for a final 5:44 mile and was even able to speed up for the final 0.1…
This particular 5k is one of favorites – the race location and course is a good one, they have a great cookout after the race and the awards, instead of the traditional trophy or medal, are gift certificates for my favorite running store – Running Etc. My third place finish won me a $25 gift certificate which I’m sure I’ll use to replace some of the stolen items from last week’s car break-in.
For the record, I ran almost 2.5 miles as a cool down to take my weekly mileage to just over 37 with a planned 20 miler for Sunday morning.