This morning I ran the "Run the Rails" 5k. I finished with a time of 26:56, which just barely beat my top goal of 27 minutes. It also beat my time from one month ago by about 1.5 minutes. So I'm very happy with my performance this morning.
I did a couple of things different this race. First, I had coffee this morning, which I've never done pre-race before. I had one cup with my usual two special-K cereal bars about 2 hours before race time. I think it helped me wake up, but I'm not sure it had any affect on the actual race. I also had a gatorade g1 about 20min before the race, which has become another pre-race tradition.
Also, this was the first time I did my packet pickup on race day. I usually don't do that because I like to show up ready to run. But it was a busy week, plus I anticipated that I'd be able to park close to the event area. That was important because there was no bag drop and I didn't have any friends or family there this morning to watch my stuff while I ran. So I just picked up my number, bag, shirt, etc., and dropped it off back at my car.
The race started at 8am. Considering the heat and early sunrise this time of year, I think they should consider moving the start time up a bit to 7 or 7:30. It was sunny and upper-70's at the start. The open, un-shaded course offered no relief from the sun. I was grateful for the water station at the half-way point. I took a small sip and dumped the rest of the water over myself.
I intentionally started at a relatively easy pace. I kept it at about 8:45 for the first mile. A couple of guys passed me early on and then slowed in front of me, so I followed those two for a while. We ran along single-file and kept a pace that ranged from about 8:15 to 8:45 until the water station at the half-way point. That's when the guy in the middle of our pack took off. I guess it got to the first guy who was in front of both of us, because right after he got passed he stepped off to the side and started walking. I didn't see him again. Around that time I got passed by a guy pushing a stroller. I let him go, but kept an eye on him and the other guy that took off, thinking I may catch them later. And sure enough, by about the 2.5 mile point, the stroller guy had slowed a bit, and I had started to pick up my pace a bit, and I managed to pass him. But I never could catch the other guy. Then with about .2 miles to go, the stroller guy caught up to me. He was really moving and so I hung with him as long as I could. We were moving at about a 7:20 pace I think. But as hard as I tried, he had me and I couldn't hang that last bit. I let him go, but was still happy to see the clock just under 27 minutes as I crossed the finish line.
The preliminary results showed me in 9th place in my age group. Apparently this race has really gained in popularity this year, because last year my time would have got me 2nd place in my age group. But I think it just shows how these events are continuing to gain in popularity, and how more people are really getting into pretty decent running shape in our area. That's a trend that I really hope continues!