I've signed up for a couple 5K races in the next few weeks in an attempt to set a new 5K PR. My current PR is 18:03, set last year at the Big South 5K. My GPS measured that course a little short, so this year I've signed up for races that should give me an "honest" record. First up is the Runway 5K, a very popular race in Charlotte because it actually happens at the Charlotte Douglas Airport. You run on a taxiway while jumbo jets take off and land only a short distance away.
The course is known to be flat and fast, but maybe just a little long. Here's the MapMyRun map of the race that a friend of mine made from last year's event:
As you can see, it's not perfectly flat. It's also about 3.17 miles, or just over the standard 5K distance of 3.1 miles. But the hills on the course play to my strengths, with a slight uphill near the start and a downhill finish.
To hit an 18:03 requires a 5:48 pace on a perfectly-accurate course. So just to be sure, I'm going to shoot for a 5:40 pace. If the course is true-to-length that would give me about a 17:30 overall time, and if it's 3.17 miles long, I should still finish just under 18 minutes at 17:58. That is, assuming I can maintain that pace for the whole race!
My biggest worry for tomorrow will be the weather. It is currently forecast to be around 35 degrees at race time, which is a touch cooler than I'd like it—but it's an improvement from earlier in the week when the overnight low was predicted to be as cool as 27! Right now the forecast calls for very low winds, just 2 mph, which also bodes well.
When the weather was slated to be cooler I was actually considering wearing tights for the race, something I've never done for a 5K, but now that the temps are above freezing I think I will be wearing a more standard racing outfit. I still think I will wear a short-sleeved compression shirt and gloves rather than a singlet.
The toughest part of the race will almost certainly be the middle mile, a long, straight, flat haul on a taxiway that will probably feel like it never ends. If I can sustain my pace for that section, I feel like I'll be able to hang on for that downhill finish.
I had a pretty good workout on Wednesday that also bodes well -- a 4-mile tempo run that I completed at an average 6:17 pace. Although I was extremely tired after an uphill third mile, I was able to recover quickly and finish strong. At the Runway 5K, with a flat-to-downhill finish, along with the adrenaline of race day, I think a faster pace is definitely within reach.
Details of Wednesday's workout are below.