Sunday, February 6, 2011
2011 Superbowl 5K: Race Report: A Mixed Bag of Outcomes
The result: 16:52, 2nd place overall.
Looking at just that line, it is certainly very, very hard to be unhappy! There were a lot of positives that came out of this race, and just a couple of negatives. First though, I have to get the story of the race itself down on paper before I forget! 5Ks have just become these short lived blurs of agony.
This race was actually canceled last year as Baltimore was in the midst of one of the worst winters in history. This year though, we were greeted with 40 degree temperatures and a light wind on the CCBC Dundalk Campus. Without thinking, I decided to race in shorts and a t-shirt. I only broke down once with wearing multiple layers and have no intention of making it a habit!
I took my spot on the start line and immediately recognized the runner who beat me in my last 5K. Also, during my warm up, I saw that the Navy Marathon Team had shown up. They had been at this race two years ago when I was "only" an 18:30 5K guy. More recently, I had run with a few of them in a 20 mile race back in September. The competitor inside me was on fire. I wanted so badly to beat that entire team and give that other runner a run for his money.
I was somewhat familiar with the course, knowing there would be rolling hills. I also knew the wind would be blowing against us the very start and for portions of the second half of the race. As soon as the gun went off (they actually used a shotgun), 15 people broke hard off the line. I actually expected this to happen and gladly tucked into the pack so they could take the brunt of the wind.
Just as with every 5K, as we continued on, everyone around me started dropping like flies. Most of the first mile was downhill, and I hit it in 5:15 in 5th or 6th place. Although I had wanted to stay on the shoulder of the eventual winner, I got a bit caught up in the big initial pack. By the 1.25 mile mark, everyone had dropped off and it was just the two of us, with about a 5 second gap between us.
We made the turnaround at 1.5 miles and started heading back. From the time everyone dropped off through about mile 2.5, the distance between the leader and myself never changed. We were both running nearly the same pace, but I was behind him and had no ability to close the gap. I just don't have the speed to throw down a surge and close a gap like that, my engine is already redlining at 8000 rpms in a race like this!
I hit mile 2 also in 5:15. This was the first time ever that my first two miles were dead on consistent. I had actually somehow managed to hold on for 2/3 of the race. Despite such a brilliant second mile, I was still stuck behind the leader and still couldn't gain any ground.
As we approached the finish, a rather decent uphill stood in the way. The wind was also blowing pretty hard against us at this point. It was on that hill that I fell apart and was broken. On that hill I lost ground on the leader and could just feel myself slow down. My third mile suffered as a result...
Interestingly, I "faded" nearly the same amount of time that I did in my last 5K, except it all happened in mile 3 instead of being evenly split over mile 2 and 3. I ended up running the last 0.1 miles back at 5:19 pace (32 seconds) once I recovered from the hill. I crossed the finish, and within a very short period of time, recovered. This is what happens when you train for marathons....
I was very disappointed by how much I faded at the end. I had a big PR in the bag until the last half mile of that race. I was also so, so close to the leader (and now someone who has beaten me twice!) and ran a good portion of that race at nearly the same pace, but was stuck too far back. I then quickly realized that I couldn't be disappointed with the final result for the following reasons...
1. I broke 17 minutes for the second time a row. Last year I did it once and never came close again.
2. I only ran 5 seconds slower than my current 5K PR. In the past 2 years, I always ran one PR performance and never got close to it again.
3. I ran even splits for the first 2 miles. Not only were they even, they were fast. I have never held 5:15 for 2 miles ever, not even when I used to run 2 mile races.
4. I beat the entire Navy Marathon Team
5. I did all of this after having already run 76 miles for the week
So overall, I'm happy. Next time, I'm going to make sure to stay on whoever I decide is for real and won't be fading. Unless they plan on running a sub 16:20, I should be able to hang with them. If I'm even with someone, we can go back and forth and push on. If I'm 5 strides back, I have no way to close the gap with marathon legs. I can't take myself out of the race before it even starts. There is no time to think or plan in a 5K, you just have to go, redline that engine, and pray it doesn't explode. I think this is why I like longer distance races more!
One final note, I decided to run this race in my Brooks T6 racers to try them out. I was very pleased with them. I felt like I was just gliding over the road the entire time, even at the end when I was falling apart. The shoes are so light and my stride just felt so smooth, natural, and unimpeded, even more so than when I'm running in my Saucony Fastwitches. I didn't feel any better or worse at the end of the race. My back, knees, hips, and shins felt exactly like they usually do. My feet were hurting over the last half mile of the race, but I get that from time to time in any shoe. I don't know if I'm ready to try them in my 10 miler at the end of the month. I'll take them on a few more tempo runs first to see how they feel. Since they are neutral shoes and I am a travesty of bio-mechanics (pigeon toed, flat footed, overpronator, probable leg length discrepancy, knees that sometimes knock together), I do have to be careful.
Between the T6 and the ST5, I can make the Brooks brand work for me in races and fast training days. Although the ST5 seems to be a bit too much shoe for a true racing flat, I could certainly still make it work for distances too long for the T6. I already have about 75% of my apparel as Brooks stuff and I love all of it. It may be time to shoot off a "running resume" to Brooks to see if I can get into their ID program. Hopefully between my decent times and rather significant involvement in the running community, they'll let me in! I really need to start racing in singlets so those guys at the front know I mean business. The way it stands now, they find out after the gun goes off...