The last time I ran a sub-7-minute mile in any race was ... 17 years ago. Yet this is what I was doing in the first mile of this morning's Hawks Fast Break 5K, my first 5K in 10 months and my hope for qualifying in Group A of the Peachtree Road Race, needing a 23-minute time or better.
It turned out my 22:44 time was my third-fastest 5K ever, only coming behind the race times that I posted in the months after the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2010. There's something about spending months of marathon training which provides great benefits in endurance and speed later on.
I entered this race as a lark. I didn't have any Atlanta Hawks t-shirts and I wanted to have one given the incredible season the NBA team was having this season.
It turned out this race was wonderfully put-together. Like the Braves Country 4-Miler (now a Braves Country 5K) that I've run in the past, race entry includes a ticket to a game. But for the Hawks race, you could donate the ticket to a child in the track club's Kilometer Kids program, which I did (what was I going to do with a single ticket?)
Race registration was pretty straightforward. It was a little crowded in the small corner lobby of Phillips Arena where you picked up your race bib but there were restrooms there, which was nice.
I made my way outside to do my 1-mile warm-up run. It was nice because I ran about .4 of a mile down the last part of the race, seeing the long hill at the end and trying to strategize what I would do at this point (I told myself at a stoplight a few hundred feet from the last turn to the end I would apply "max power" there but when the race came I did not have "max power" to do so).
I made it back to the starting corrals with a few minutes to spare. It was great since people actually observed the corrals. I got into the "A" corral, which was for runners who had a 7:30/mile pace or better. There actually was space in between it and the "B" corral.
The race started and it was a pretty fast first mile, since there was ample space to run with the wide lanes of Marietta Street and it did not bottleneck at all. I felt fine during it, although I was constantly checking my watch. One reason why I didn't try to slow up was that I'd posted sub-7-minute/mile intervals in the two previous speed workouts I had.
In the second mile it also didn't feel like I was working too hard but this time I was trying to make my pace closer to the 7:20/mile that I'd planned for this race. I told myself that my main goal was to qualify.
After I passed the marker for Mile 2, I felt even more relaxed, feeling that I could run an 8-minute mile and still qualify for Group A. There were two tough hills, one that lasted from miles 2.1 to 2.4 (ending near Paschal's Restaurant on Northside Drive) and then up Markham Street to Walker Street near the end of the race. I remember telling myself on the hills that I could do this because I push 90 extra pounds of stroller plus kiddos daily!
One great thing about this race is the landmarks helped. When you could see the Georgia Dome you knew you were close to finish!
The end of the race was nicely organized. They gave out a finisher's medal and the lobby where you checked-in was where you picked up your race shirt and food.
One thing for me is that I'll have to work on my general endurance. My splits were 6:51/7:23/7:36, meaning I was tiring out at the end of the race. But overall I am happy that since the marathons last year my running speed and intensity have not waned. I'm also a big believer that the initial work I've done with speed intervals and core strengthening exercises also helped!
Time: 8 a.m.
Temp: 36 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirts, long x2 (Big Peach 5 Miler, Atlanta Marathon giveaway). Brooks Grit shorts, Skechers Go Run 2.