ROSWELL, Ga. -- I'd had this race on my calendar ever since falling short of first place in my age group last year by a single second.
I'd like to say I spent that year wisely, honing my 5K skills, but I really hadn't. I've been putting in some speedwork but nothing that will bring me to the next level yet.
Anyway, I left the house and there was light, misty rain. I wasn't sure if this meant I would have a rainy race but by the time I got to the race start it was looking ok. I got my bib and T-shirt from this well-organized race and put in maybe a third of a mile as a warmup.
The construction that was going on last year has been completed and the start and finish now wrapped around a different part of the church parking lot.
After running in two recent 5Ks in which I started out way too fast -- and paid for it -- I decided I would limit myself to about a 7-minute mile pace in the start. So when the start came I felt myself slowing down, and then slowing down too much. I worried I wouldn't be able to run anywhere near a 7-minute mile, but the first mile chimed at 7:01.
At the end of the first mile and throughout the second mile are rolling hills, which slowed me considerably last year. I felt like I was doing ok in them and no one was passing me, either. I ran this mile in 7:06.
By this time, I had a weird position. The really fast runners were at least 15 seconds ahed of me and the people behind me were back about the same amount of time. I worked to keep steady and when I entered the church parking lot again and neared the finish, I eased up a little bit as it seemed like no one was on my tail. Mile 3 was 7:03.
When I neared the finish I could see that 22 minutes had elapsed. I finished in 22:16 (my watch recorded a minute and three seconds for the last .17 miles for a 6:36/mile pace).
While waiting for the awards, I looked at the monitor and it showed that I was second in my age group, behind a runner who ran in 20:15. I shrugged at that point, knowing that even if I wanted to, I would not have been able to run faster than that.
So I dutifully waited for the awards to come and I started to move forward after they announced the third place winner for my age group and then abruptly stopped in my tracks when second place was announced and it was not me. I was confused for a second but then elated when my name was announced for first place. The faster runner was first male masters.
It was a great race for a great cause -- the money goes toward the church's ministry in Zambia. I know that I'll have to work a little bit if I want to try for first in my age group next year.
I am a little confused, however, at my race tactics. I wonder how I would have done if I had just tried to run much faster in the first mile and then hold on the next two, as I usually do. I was glad that I had gas left in the tank for the rolling hills and the end of the race because I ran a little slower but am wondering if I need to take more risks to consistently run under 22 minutes.
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Temp: 57 degrees
Gear: Technical T-shirt, short (Marine Corps Marathon "Mission Accomplished" 2014), Patagonia Strider PRO shorts, cep compression socks, Saucony Type A6.