Continuing with the summer trend of races I headed out to the Flag Day 5k last week with high hopes of crushing my 5k PR. Since no road 5k is created equal and who knows if they are ever actually a legit 5k these PRs always come with an asterisk, but last year I ran the 5k here in 18:56 and I was hoping to drop a minute off that time based on the recent 10ks and Blossom. That would be around 5:45 pace which seemed doable based on a comparison of last years track paces versus this year.
One itsy difference, last year I just raced the Cleveland Half and this 5k, this year I've done three races leading up to this in 4 weeks and I can tell I am a bit ragged. Didn't take too much downtime after the marathon and I am about ready for a little reprieve before ramping it up for Columbus.
Despite all that I felt pretty solid during the warm up and was feeling confident. It's a fast downhill start with just one turn in the first mile. Stuck to NC like glue and chugged through the first mile in around 5:34 (note my time trial mile last year on the track was 5:35) right on target with 5:30s like coach recommended.
NC pulled away from me as we made our way up the first hill towards a hair pin turn. It's nice because you can see those in front of and behind you here. Gave a little cheer and wave to my girls, but not much energy to expound on enthusiasm as I made my way back downhill trying to keep close to NC. This mile is always slow for me and I was making a conscious effort to push. Lost a little focus when I thought I heard my husband cheering for me but dug in and pushed after that. I wanted to hit the 2 mile by 11:30 to ensure a possibility of sub 18 and was right on target around 11:26 with a 5:53 mile here. Chugged a water and headed towards the next hill. My husband was actually cheering here and I heard "pick it up" but he claims he was telling me to "keep it up." I guess we hear what we think we should be hearing at this point in the race, not reality :)
I was with a couple of guys here and cheers were to stick with that girl! Guess it is good to be a motivator, but not sure that's what they wanted to hear :) I lost one on the uphill but stayed with the other and gapped him once we hit the woods. I felt like I significantly upped my effort this mile but the numbers beg to differ, it is winding and through the woods so it's hard to really make up lost time, but with the downhill finish I was sure I could squeak out 17:50 something. Raced down the hill closing on the guy in front of me and heard the tell tale "push and you can break 18" for a guy behind me, I dug deeper and watched as that dumb clock clicked from 17:59 to 18:00 as I crossed the line and ran into the guy in front of me in the chute.
One measly second! Obviously I was not content with the time, but it was a good effort for me. A 56 second improvement over last years performance so I can't complain! NC was a good clip ahead of me at 17:40 and JO as usual crushed the field with a 17:10. I'm getting really good at coming in 3rd at this race :)
Next race I should suck it up and stay with NC for longer, maybe if I had held on for 1.5 or 2 miles I could have gotten under 18 (or maybe I would have blown up). I need to start taking some chances if I want to keep improving this summer. The first 5k of the season is always tough, you aren't really sure what pace your lungs and legs can handle, and with a few bad 5ks since last summer I am sure subconsciously I just wanted a solid performance and didn't want to have a blow up. Well solid performance achieved, now next race let's push a bit harder and see if we can find that fine line of a peak performance!