Posted by: Drew | July 11, 2008

CAHS 5k – a race report

I’ve done plenty of hard/medium/easy training 5k’s in under 30 minutes, but the only races I’ve done at that distance are the huge Komen races where I run with my buddy.  So while my unofficial 5k PR is 23:00, I know that 30:08 is where it stands officially, and that’s what I wanted to change in this race.

I pulled into the parking lot at the park, and there were dogs everywhere.  It was a run to benefit the local humane society, and leashed dogs could run the course with their owners.  This should be fun.

As I’m walking over to the registration tent, my body reminds me (through sweating) that it’s hot outside.  Hopefully this woudn’t affect my performance.  I had a long weekend out in the sun last week, and I was still recovering from the wicked sunburn.  The course was an out-and-back setup, going around the park, down the Rails to Trails path, and back.  To put it bluntly: no shade.

I got my race number (good ole 61), and waited for the start.  With about ten minutes to go, I took a jog of about a quarter mile to begin the warmup process.  As I was strolling down the path, I noticed that while it wasn’t listed as being humid according to relative humidity (45-ish percent), the air was a bit thick and made deep breathing a chore.  This was not encouraging to me, but I quickly put it out of my head.

The start was imminent, but nobody wanted to toe the starting line.  The MC stated, “we’re starting the race whether you guys are ready or not, about one minute.”  With that, a few of us reluctantly went up to the line.  I’ve never been this close to the start line before, usually I’m a good football field away, or more.  Last night… one foot.  It was slightly intimidating, but nobody else wanted to do it so I thought, “…what the hell?”

The horn went off, and we shot out of the gate.  That first 25 yards was too fast for my blood, so I settled into what felt like a sub-8:00 pace.  Surprisingly, not too many folks passed me.  I was expecting to get trampled by the shy-elites, but only 10 or so people went by in the first half mile, including two women who were running with their dogs.  I wasn’t too excited about this (the dogs beating me), but knew that this was not the point in the race to “win”.  As we exited the park and headed out on the Rails to Trails, I was pleased to see that while the dog ladies had passed me, they were not extending the gap.  They stayed about 20 yards in front of me.  I decided that I would hang tough.

I also noticed that right around these dogs were some guys who looked to be about my age.  I would keep them in my sights as well, and hopefully have the gas to pick off as many competitors as I could.  After what seemed like a lifetime, we passed the one mile marker.  I did not hit my watch, I didn’t want to know.  I was running kung fu.  The heat and sun were taking their toll and making me warm, but I was not breathing hard.  Usually, when the going gets tough, I start breathing in rhythm.  This had not happened yet.  I decided that if I still felt okay, I’d pick up the pace a bit at the turn-around.

As we approached the cones signalling the mid-point, I had begun to close the gap on one of the dog ladies and two of the four guys I was chasing.  I threw a little burst in right before the hairpin and passed one guy, then went by the other guy and one of the dogs just past the turn.  I kept the effort constant, and slowly reeled in the other dog lady (running with two cute pups).  At about 1.75 miles, a younger girl (from the sound of her voice) and I both passed the dogs, her on the left and me through the grass.  The girl (turns out she was 27 with a very young voice) and I were shoulder to shoulder for about a minute, but I dropped her, too.  The other two guys around my age were about 40-50 yards in front of me, with about 1.25 miles to go.  Too much distance for me to worry about just yet.  Keep the effort constant and continue the push.  If they were there for the taking later on, I would do it.

Two miles came, and I hit the watch lap timer this time (I’m weak, I know).  I looked down to see something like 15:39.  I was okay with this, but could pretty much tell that going sub-23 was out.  But I figured I could walk it in and break 30, so I smiled and kept the pressure on.  We left the rail/trail and went back into the park, which meant about 0.5-0.6 miles to go.  To my surprise, I’d significantly closed the gap on the two gents in front of me.  One, Mr. Green Basketball Shorts, struggled up the tiny 8 foot hill on the path, and I used the small downhill to blow by him.  One more guy to go.

This whole time, I’m listening to jangling dog tags in my ears coming from behind me.  The lady with the two pups was close by, and I didn’t want to be beaten by them.  As the heat was sapping my energy, the dogs changed in my mind from cute little puppies to mangy dogs who must be beaten.  I was NOT going to be out-kicked by these mutts if it took everything I had.  With about a quarter-mile to go, I hear their owner tell them they just have a little bit to go, and, “c’mon, lets finish guys!”  I expected them to blow by on my left, but it didn’t happen.  All the while, the last person I can catch is about 10 yards in front of me and is maintaining his distance.

We passed a gazebo which I knew was about 0.15 miles from the finish, and I decided that whatever kick I possessed was going to get used now.  I was breathing heavily now, the effort was catching up to me, and I know that guy had to hear me coming.  I figured he’d fight for his spot, but I rocketed by him easily and sprinted to the finish.  I breasted the imaginary tape at 23:49(!!!!) and staggered to a walk.  Sweat pouring down my face, nausea very present, I walked to the table where they had a few medals left.  The guy at the table asked how old I was, and when I said “30,” he told me I “missed it by one year.”  They only gave awards to the top finisher in each age group.  Oh well, I had my PR and a strong finish.  I was pleased.

I figured that I was somewhere in the top 30-40 overall.  When I looked at the official results this morning, I found that I was 3rd in my age group, finishing 17th overall.  I know not a lot of people showed up (none of the local elites), but wow was I surprised!  Top 10% overall, 16% gender.  No complaints at all, a very fun night.

My official marathon training begins on the 21st.  If you care to view the plan, click here.

Thanks for reading.  See you out there.

(This entry is cross-posted over at my Monkey Training blog – aka the Living Testimonial)



  1. AWESOME! Congratulations on your “true” sub-30. My best 5K is 28:47 and I was all out to do that. 23:49 is amazing. I’d love to run a 25 at some point, but I’m getting old at this point…*laughing* almost 34 and nearing the hills!

  2. Old… whatever.

    Get thyself healed completely, put in some decent training (read: not what I do), and you could do sub-25, no prob, methinks.

  3. In other good news, I was inspired by your run and I hit the asphalt this evening myself. I did two miles in 20:50. It burned and I walked several sections…but it felt good to be back in my shoes.

    Don’t look now, but I’m right behind you!

  4. Brilliant!

  5. […] – bookmarked by 6 members originally found by wallerstein on 2008-08-17 CAHS 5k – a race report – bookmarked by 3 members originally found by […]

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