At the last minute yesterday I decided I wanted to do a 5K this weekend, and the Huntersville Fall Harvest 5K fit the bill. It’s a relatively flat course, near where I live, and the weather was slated to be perfect — about 40 degrees at race time. I’m starting a new training program as I get ready to run my first-ever marathon, and when I’m doing speed work like intervals, etc., the program specifies that I should be running at 5K race pace.
Since I feel like I’ve improved a lot since my last 5K in the spring, it seemed like a good idea to run a new one. In that last race, the Bare Bones 5K in Salisbury, I ran a 23:55, which works out to about 7:42 per mile. Today I was thinking I might be able to run about as fast as 7:15 per mile. The plan was to start at that 7:15 pace, then see if I could hang on until the finish.
At the start we all crowded onto Verhoeff Dr., a two-lane rural highway that had been closed off by the local police. As we waited for the start, the last few racers from the 10K that had started an hour and a half earlier were heading to the finish, which involved them making their way through the crowd of 5K runners. Fortunately, the 5K racers were very polite, parting like the Red Sea and giving each 10K racer a hearty round of applause.
At the start, there was no bullhorn, just a guy with a gun, but that did the trick, and we were off, running through the beautiful, semi-rural course. The first mile was downhill, and a lot of folks started aggressively, including me. At the one mile marker, I felt good, and I made it in 6:57, faster than I had planned. Then the course turned uphill. If I was going to hit my target time, I needed to maintain my pace heading uphill. The hill was quite gentle, even more gradual than some of the flattest portions of my daily training run, so it really wasn’t too bad. I think I passed at least 20 runners on mile 2, which I finished in 7:14 — still on pace! All I had to do now was hang on to the end. I passed another few runners at the start of mile 3, which was still slightly uphill. I could feel myself starting to tire a bit at the end of mile 3, and a couple runners passed me. I tried to stay with them, but I wanted to make sure I didn’t kill myself and not run strong through the finish, so in the end I had to let them go. Mile 3 was finished in 7:16 — slightly off pace, but not bad. All that was left was around 2 tenths of a mile — the race website lists the race as 3.2 miles, even though a true 5K would be 3.1. I ran strong to the finish, finishing just behind the two guys who passed me in that last mile.
Unofficial finish time: 22:14. I can’t remember ever doing a 5K faster — does that make it a P.R.? That’s a pace of 7:06 per mile — even better than my target pace! Yes indeed, that is a bit of smug self-satisfaction you’re detecting just now. A great way to start the weekend!
I don’t think the official results have been posted yet; I’ll try to link to them when they are. If you’re interested, here’s the GPS record of my race.
Update: The results have been posted here. I finished 23rd out of 330 runners, and I was fourth in my age group. As it turned out, those two guys who passed me in the last mile were in my age group, so if I had managed to hold them off, I would have finished second. As it was, I was two seconds out of second place, and eight seconds out of first place in my age group.