Saturday, December 15, 2012

Race Report/Race Year In Review

I'm a week late in getting a race report up for the Christmas Rush 5k I ran last Saturday (12/8/12) so I'll combine that with a brief review of all of my races this year, since I'm done racing in 2012.

As mentioned, I ran in the 30th Annual Christmas Rush race last weekend. What makes this race special for me is that I ran it the very year the race was established (1983...yes, it's the 30th year, since you count the year it began.) It was my first road race, and it was only a 10k at the time (starting about the 3rd year, they added a 5k.) I still have the shirt from that first race. Even though it's very thin (cotton was all you could get at races back in the day), I just had to wear it to this race. The race director knew I was going to wear it. After the race, he announced it and made a big to-do about it. Hopefully I can break it out again for the 40th running!

Pre-race, wearing the threadbare original race shirt.
The weather was perfect: overcast and low 40's. I talked my friend (and running club-mate) Dan into running the race, knowing I would be bumped down in the standings because of that. I prefer his company over finishing one spot higher in our age group (45-49). Indeed, that's exactly what happened, as he's currently quite a bit faster than me.

I had a goal of breaking 21:30 in this race. I ran a 21:53 four weeks earlier, so I wasn't completely sure I could chop off 24 seconds. But training had gone well, and I ended my running streak at 77 days, allowing for plenty of recovery time (both from running and from an upper respiratory infection) so I was relatively confident.

I managed to go out fairly strong and run progressive splits, which surprised me. After opening with a 6:59 mile, I thought I'd have to slow down a bit the second mile, before kicking it in toward the end. Here's how it played out:

Mile 1 - 6:59
Mile 2 - 6:56
Mile 3 - 6:45
last .1 - :38

Official Finish Time - 21:19
Overall - 45 of 1894 (2%)
Division - 5 of 61* (8%)
Men - 38 of 749 (5%)

Pushing hard during mile 3.

Finishing sprint. Nothing left in the tank.

*I was rewarded 4th at the post-race ceremony, but later was bumped down to fifth. They gave out ribbons for the top 5 positions in each division. I got the 4th place ribbon at the race, and was mailed the 5th place ribbon. This is the only time I've received ribbons for two different places in one race!

Yes, that happened.
The one slightly disappointing aspect to the race was the lack of any real post-race food. There were bottles of water and some pretty nasty tasting (in my opinion) protein bars. But that was pretty much it. The race director did give me gift cards for 3 free pizzas at a local pizza restaurant because of my old race shirt. I hate to say it, but I'm glad I didn't have to pay for the pizza. Not particularly tasty, to be kind.
But...that aside, it's a fun race on a great course. I'll be back yet again.


I'll briefly go over my race results this year. As I said toward the end of last year, 2012 was going to be the 'Year of the 5k' for me. Coming off a serious injury, I still wanted to participate in races, but didn't want to take a chance at prolonging...or injury. This proved to be a wise decision. I also went into the year with the goal of getting a 5k PR, since my existing 5k PR is what I would consider 'soft' (I never raced a road 5k during my quicker high school days.) After my first (frustrating) race of the year, I quickly abandoned that goal. I had a bad experience due to a lack of fitness, horrible weather and a cranky heel on a hilly course. I took (too much) time off—two months—before resuming training in March.
Here's a quick synopsis of each race:

Jan. 14 - Nookachamps 5k, 23:13, 1/6 AG, 22/219 overall. Cold, rain, sleet, snow. Bad attitude, angry heel.

May 19 - Walk & Roll 5k, 23:26, 2/7 AG, 8/90 overall. No base, no speed, no fitness.

Jun. 9 - Flight for Sight 5k, 22:54, 1/8 AG, 7/93 overall. Still out of shape, but a bit quicker. Hilly course. Surprising AG win.

Jun. 16 - Berry Dairy Days 2 Mile, 15:42. Paced oldest daughter. Rainy, 60°.

Jul. 7 - Run of the Mill 5k, 23:15, 19/111 AG, 175/1321 overall. Back over 23 minutes...but on a tough course. Had some bronchial issues.

Sept. 15 - Run For Hope 5k, 23:47, 2/5 AG, 8/62 overall. Took a bad fall on the course, then slowed down. Low mileage due to summer vacations, so wouldn't have been much faster.

Sept. 30 - Summer's End 5k, 22:56, 1/4 AG, 5/109 overall. Race started & ended at my old high school. Another hilly course, but got back under 23 min.

Oct. 13 - Fire Prevention 5k, 22:18, 4/10 AG, 9/70 overall. Finally starting to cut some time off. Recorded a sub-7 min. 3rd mile. Fitness is improving.

Nov. 10 - Fowl Fun Run 5k, 21:53, 2/6 AG, 13/139 overall. Sunny, 36°. Finally back under 22 min (1st time since July 2010.) Closed w/6:48 final mile.

Dec. 8 - Christmas Rush 5k, 21:19, 5/61 AG, 45/1894 overall. Only 4 seconds from current PR. All three miles under 7 min (6:45 for 3rd mi.) Felt good, but left it all out on the course.

Having come so close to a PR in my final 5k, I hesitate to start moving back up in race distances. I'll be running a 10k in January, with another in February, but I do intend to include a few 5k's next year, with the intent of not only setting a new PR, but demolishing the old one. I plan on adding some "official" speed work early in the year as well. Please, body, don't fail me now!

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