Tomorrow I'm going to be running the UNCC Homecoming 5K. I don't run a lot of races, but I do think it's important to get used to running in race conditions. There's definitely something different about a race compared to a training run. You push yourself just a little bit harder when you're competing against hundreds of other runners, even if most folks are just there to have fun or maybe get a PR.
At my last 5K, I was disappointed at my finish. I wasn't sure how much I could push things, so I eased off a bit and let two guys pass me; it turned out they were in my age division and if I had held them off, I would have placed second in my group. As it was, I was fourth by two seconds, and just eight seconds from a first-in-group finish.
This time I think I'll have a better feel for what I'm capable of at the end of a 5K. I still might not place -- that depends more on who shows up than how well I run -- but I think I can do better than last time.
My goal for tomorrow is to run at a 7-minute pace or better. That would be a time of about 21:45, compared to a 22:18 in my last 5K. Here's a map I made of the course. The plan is to start out at a 6:45 pace for the largely-flat first mile, then try to hold on for a 7-minute uphill second mile. The final mile is downhill, so it'd be great if I could run that at, say, a 6:30 pace, but even if I slow down to a 7:15 pace, I should still meet my goal. A dream finish would be under 21 minutes, which requires an average 6:45 pace.
Today I ran an easy 5.5 miles. As usual, GPS data below: