Weather was perfect, low/mid 40s, partly cloudy and practically no wind. Got out there and registered, and had time to run a mile or so with some strides to try and lock in pace - Goal was to run 6:06, which should bring me in just under 19 minutes. Based on recent training, and my goal time for next weekend's half marathon, a sub 19 should be achieveble. But 5K's pretty much suck and I don't have much experience running them, so it's always a crapshoot.
First half mile included a 20' downhill, followed by a 180 degree turn thru a narrow gate. Not ideal for getting locked on pace.
Race started and we were off. Started quick and after the crazy sprinters dropped off I was left in 3rd place. The leader was running the 10k, I wasn't sure about runner #2. I could hear footsteps behind. First 1/4 mile was very quick - went by at 5:31 pace! I consciously slowed, got under control and completed the 1/2 mile in 2:53 (5:46 pace).
Decided I needed to really focus and spend the next mile trying to settle down and run a steady 6:06 thru the turnaround. Next 2 halves were 3:03 and 3:03, so I was doing OK. Turnaround comes up right about 1.5 and I turn at 8:57, so it is going to be short, and by quite a bit. I knew this wasn't a certified race and suspected the distance was going to be off.
Lead guy was still ahead and he sped off to the 10k turnaround, runner #2 turned so I figured I had a race to run. He was about 20 yards ahead at the turn but he looked worse than I felt, so I picked it up right after the turn. Caught him pretty quickly and he slowed a little as I passed. I kept teh pressure on and it did the trick - That 1/2 went by in 3:00, but I was pretty much max'd on heartrate and still had a mile to go, and I was now running on my own. (and this was not the sort of race with a police bike to clear the path for you....)
Slowed to 3:06 for the fifth 1/2 mile and was feeling like crap. I figured that was how 5K's are supposed to feel and managed to keep going OK. #2 was nowhere near so I knew I had the win, and given the short course knew I had the sub 19. So I decided I needed to focus on coming in under 6:06 pace. Managed to finish out in 3:00 for a total time of 18:06 (8:57 out, 9:06 back). Got first place by about 20-30 seconds and the total distance (from Garmin) was 2.98 miles. Pace was 6:04, which I was happy with. That would have been a 18:53 for a full 5K - which feels about right.
It was the first race I have ever won outright, and it was very cool to run through the finish line ribbon - I suspect that the finish line photo will be terrible as I was trying hard not to throwup. As a bonus, I picked up a prize of $150 in gift certificates for a local running store, (entry was only $25) so not a bad return for 18 minutes work!
After adjusting for short distance, that is a VDOT of 53.25 (for the Daniels' followers out there) - which converts to 1:26:43 for a half. A big confidence booster as my race plan next week is 6:37 pace, or 1:26:45.
We'll see how it goes........