Weather was almost perfect, in the 40's, overcast, with a slight wind. Got there early enough to warmup by running most of the course, which seemed pretty good as a figure 8. There were more people than I expected (about 600) but it was a very wide startline so I had no problem getting a spot at the front.
for a 5K, 18:22 is 5:55 pace, and 17:59 is 5:47, so I knew what my range should be.
Gun went off and I was off crazy fast. I was in about 5th place but running like a lunatic. The first quarter mile was 79 seconds (5:20 pace), which would have been great if this was a mile race, or some 400 repeats at the track, but not so smart for a 18 minute 5K. The rest of mile 1 was more like 6:00 pace which got me through the mile in 5:49, which was about right timewise, but I was obviously running slower than I should due to the fast start.
Mile 2 starts and I'm already out of breath and thinking it was going to be a really, really bad day. Managed to hang on for a half mile at about 6:00 pace then a guy about my age passed me and I was ready to bail. Then I said, "Hey, what happens if I speedup, and try and run with this guy?". So that's what I did. Next half mile went by at 5:45 pace and I was thru mile 2 in 11:36, which is just a few seconds off 17:59 pace. It hurt, but not that much more than running at 6:00 pace.
Mile 3 started up the hill (not steep by any means, but it was enough to make a difference when running right on the edge of my limited abilities). I decided I had to go for it if I was going to get under 18, and pulled up alongside the guy, then moved ahead. This was not fun, and I was only running about 5:55 pace. he was hurting too, but managed to hang on as I passed. Held him off for half a mile and then he caught me again and I lost concentration and slowed way down to about 6:12 for a quarter mile.
I'd run the final .11 miles in warmup and had covered it in 35 seconds, so I figured if I could get to the mile 3 marker by 17:27 I had a chance. I picked it up again at 2.5 miles, chasing the other guy, and managed to get back down to 5:50-5:55. I hit the mile 3 marker at 17:33 and I knew I couldn't close in 27 seconds but went for it anyway. It took me 40 (5:31 pace) and I was dead at the line. Crossed at 18:13, for a 10 second PR, which was good for 12th overall, and 1st in my 40-44 age group.
So I was happy with the result. Another stupid start (possibly my dumbest ever!), but I managed to stay strong in mile 2 for a change by staying with the guy that passed me (he beat me by about 5 seconds in the end). So the next race I need to focus on steady pace, a reasonable first mile (~5:50), a strong 2nd (5:47) and then a fast finish (5:45). Hopefully that will get me those next 14 seconds.