Now my 5K PR is down to an 18:59, and with the weather forecast calling for temperatures in the mid-70s with 80% humidity, I didn't think it was going to be in any danger today, despite a relatively flat course. That didn't stop people from asking me before the race if I thought I'd PR this time around. My usual response was "I'll give it a shot," but I wasn't very confident about it, especially since I'd done a very hard track workout only about 38 hours before.
I drove up with Chad and his 7-year-old son James, who was decked out in his DART gear as he prepared to do the half-mile fun run:
|Ready to race!|
To beat my PR I would need to run faster than a 6:07 pace, and I decided to go ahead and start out faster than that pace, just in case I somehow pulled off a miracle in the heat. Despite the quirky feel of the race, there were quite a few fast runners, and it was obvious from the start that I wouldn't be in contention for an overall award. Here's a photo Chad got of the start of the race:
|I'm easily spotted in my orange cap, and fellow DARTer Jim Crotts is on the right|
After about a half mile at a 6:00 pace I was quite sure the pace was unsustainable, so I tried to slow down a bit. Surprisingly, when I hit the one-mile marker, my pace was still quite fast, about 6:03. We turned up the one major hill in the race, and I felt a burst of energy. I guess all the hill workouts I've been doing lately have started to pay dividends. I passed about four runners on the hill, then headed back down a steep hill. As I careened down the hill, I could feel the brace I use to stabilize my IT band begin to slide over my knee cap. Oh no! At the bottom of the descent, I thought for a moment about readjusting the brace, but I didn't feel any pain in the knee, and I could tell it wasn't going to slide down over my calf, so I decided to let it be. Fortunately, it didn't bother me for the rest of the race.
We continued on a flat road for about a quarter-mile to a turnaround. There were at least a dozen runners ahead of me, but I didn't see anyone who looked like they were my age. Jim pointed out to me after the race that I could have been more systematic in checking: The "V" on my bib corresponded to my age group!
After the turnaround I saw Jim headed the other way; I thought about high-fiving him, but it looked like he might have been holding something in his hand, so I just shouted "Go Jim!"
I knew my pace was slowing as the race continued. The heat of the day was starting to get to me, and each step just seemed like it took more effort. One of the guys who I had passed on the hill passed me back. I was determined not to let anyone else pass me, though. It was hot for everyone else, right?
Finally we arrived at Mile 2. My split for this mile was 6:21. Good, I thought, still at a sub-20-minute pace. To finish a 5K in under 20 minutes, you need to average 6:26 per mile. As long as I didn't slow down any more, I was a cinch to do just that. But we were heading into the hottest, most exposed part of the course. I could see some other runners ahead of me beginning to falter, and I focused on passing them. I reeled in a couple of runners, but at the same time I could hear footsteps behind me.
At 2.5 miles I was really laboring; my pace had slowed to 6:28 per mile. I pushed harder, trying to not to let myself flag during the final meters of the race. The end of the course is tough. There's an uphill, rubble-strewn concrete path to a track, and then you have to go the long way around the track to the finish. You don't hit the 3-mile marker until you're halfway around the track. I didn't have a chance to look at my watch; I was focused on not letting the runners behind me catch up. I picked up the pace for the final straightaway and crossed the line. Here's a photo Chad snapped of me during that final straightaway:
|As usual, I look like I have to go to the bathroom|
My final time was 19:43. As it turned out, the footsteps behind me belonged to a man in my age group, so by holding him off I finished first in the 45-49 age group, with a time of 19:43. Nowhere near a PR, but still respectably under 20 minutes.
As I gasped for breath, I joined Chad on the sidelines and cheered the other runners home.
|Todd Hartung and his daughter Isabella|
Jim and Isabella (age 6!) each finished third in their age groups!
Then it was James's turn to run the fun run, two laps on the track, which may have been the farthest he's ever run. He did great, finishing in fourth place!
|Well done, James|
And here's the entire crew of DARTers who ran today. Congrats to all!
|Jim Crotts, Todd Hartung, Dave Munger, Isabella Hartung, and James Randolph|
My Garmin plot of the race is below.