5K PR, Shattered Expectations, Mid Race Perspective, and Why to Line Up Early!!!

The wife and I decided to run this little 5K in our area about a month ago. It’s on a trail we run weekly and benefits the local sherriff’s department, so it’s a win-win!


Well, life happened along the way and I ended up taking about a three week hiatus from running. I battled off a killer repiratory infection and then took off to Tucson for a while to work on the new fire station they’re building on the Air Force Base. I really just didn’t have the time to run! This last two week timecard held 125 hours for me! The good news is that I was speedwalking and climbing stairs for 10-12 hrs a day, carrying ladders, electronic equipment, and generally getting a good, albeit unconventional, workout!


I got back last week and got in a couple of runs with the Mrs., a 7 miler Wed, a 5 miler Thu, and a 12 on Saturday. I was a little nervous about this race, as I hadn’t really been running and going long the day before a 5K isn’t exactly the most kosher thing to do for speed! But off we went and I had a great time. The ol’ lungs were definitely feeling the layoff, though!




Sunday morning came and  we headed out to the race, getting there early and parking a half mile away to help with warm-up and cool-down. We ran a good portion of the course and found quite a few hills and a strong breeze. All in all, 2.3 miles of good recon warm-up.


The 10Kers started first, then the 5Kers 5 minutes later. This wasn’t such a little race anymore; about 950 runners were registered, about 600 for the 5K. We made the mistake of not rushing to the front as soon as the 10K runners left, so when the mob crunched forward we were stuck halfway back, next to a guy filming a video blog. A friend held the camera as he joked and showcased his “impressive” legs. It was part funny, part madly creepy.


The start horn honked and the mob moved a little, but it still took about 20 sec to cross the line. The first mile was basically weaving and passing, navigating around groups and walkers, trying to keep up a good pace and encouraging those who looked like they needed it.


The path started to clear by the second mile, so it was time to focus on rhythm, form, and cadence. I noticed my lungs burning, but the pace was about :30 faster than I was planning on, so it made sense. I figured “Hey, I’m not dying! F it! Keep going! Try to time it so you pass out at 3.2 miles!” The turnaround came and I got to look forward to soaring down all the hills I’d just powered up. The problem was that this being a race full of half runners, half recreational joggers, both sides of the trail were full of people headed our way! It was like being a salmon wriggling upstream! It cleared up by the third mile, so it wasn’t really a problem for long at all. It was then that I got an impression of where we were in the scuffle. Approaching the turnaround, I hadn’t seen that many runners heading back, which meant I wasn’t that far behind the frontrunners! Time to bear down!


I’m not going to lie. Mile 3 hurt. A lot. But I kept thinking “It’s a 5K. It’s supposed to hurt! Just keep going!” Then I suddenly thought, “A lot of people have lung conditions like emphysema, and for them it feels this rough to breathe every second of every day. Who am I to even inwardly complain about this? Suck it up! Only .5m left!” I felt my legs numb out, which I was hoping for, and just went for it. I rounded a corner, saw the candy apple red finish arch, and gave it every bit of will and strength I had. I thought it was weird that so many people were cheering; I hadn’t experienced that before!


Here are the splits from Garmin:


Mile 1 – 6:58


Mile 2 – 7:00


Mile 3 – 6:58


Last .1 – 0:22




After grabbing my knees and sucking air for a minute, I met up with DW and stumbled to the picture tent to get my “I’m as soaked as Swamp Thing but somehow this adorable perfectly dry sweetheart is willing to stand near me for this photo” picture and got a chance to check my splits. I was stoked they were so even! I was stoked I had PR’d! I was stoked I hadn’t passed out!!!




When we checked the stats, there was my name, Second in Age Group! My official time was 21:39, although Garmin read 21:18. It turned out only the finish was chip timed, so that 20 second at the start of the race was included in my race time. Guess what I missed first place by: 25 seconds!!! Who knows where that other guy started, but I can’t help thinking that if I had simply started at the front, I’d have had a shot! Nevertheless, I was elated to have PR’d and placed 2nd! Totally not what I had expected at all, given the previous weeks’ lack of training.


On top of that, I was so proud of DW! First in her age group! We hung around for her medal and took off for our cooldown. We traced part of the course, headed off toward the car, spontaneously decided to hit some hills, ran downriver a bit, and returned to the car. Day’s total: 8 wonderful miles, one medal, two PR’s, and two blissful runners.




Thank y’all for reading!




Run happy!


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