Another post-injury payoff

One of the more interesting things about coming back from a major injury is the pure unknown about what will happen on race day. While I've had some good runs lately, I know that I haven't done speed work to even have a clue what race day would be like. I've had a couple of runs with some close to 8-minute miles mixed in, and I felt then that I could so something solid in today's race. I entered today's Presbyterian Homes 5k with no time goals. I wanted to give it my all -- what that meant was something I didn't know until I got out there. What transpired was almost a PR.

running, Presbyterian Homes 5k, Lynchburg

This up and down course is brutal (above is from my Garmin data). It starts uphill only to have an intense downhill ... only to have a very long, steady uphill in the middle ... followed by another big downhill ... and then nearly a half-mile uphill finish. Some call it rolling hills, others call it crazy. I heard a lot today.

Lynchburg, running, Presbyterian Homes 5k

I hit the first mile in 7:13 -- well on pace for a PR (22:41), but could I maintain that? Knowing the course I knew that I was going to have to stay on top of things both mentally and physically.

While the hill between 1.5 and 2 miles wasn't anything that I'm not used to running, it just kind of sucked the life out of me. I had about five people pass me -- I tried to use an old mental trick I use of having them pull me along, but it wasn't working.

I still did the second mile in 7:39, which certainly wasn't bad considering how I was feeling, but I knew that making up those precious seconds to get a PR was going to be hard.

I dug a little deeper in the last mile -- I cruised down the final hill, but as soon as the incline started (in about the only place there was direct sunlight in the course), I couldn't find the same leg turnover I had going in the first mile. While a PR was out of the question, I figured I could aim to beat my time from a few years ago -- 23:03.

I tried, but I felt my running form getting sloppy. While I want to see improvements in my time, I also want to know that I am running with better form than I was a year ago. As much as I wanted to press the gas pedal 100 percent, I only pushed it 99.8 percent.

That not-quite 100 percent final push led to the final mile in 7:28 and brought me to the finish line in a time of ... that's right ... 23:03. The exact same time as four years ago.

I'm not sure how my tone is coming across in words, but I am ecstatic about this. If you would have told me in January that I'd be back to a 5k time like this, I would have laughed. All this work from coming back from my ITB injury is paying off tremendously this year.

To have my third fastest 5k time without being in 5k training mode is awesome. I struggle to find the right words to explain how it feels to be more than 2 minutes faster than a slightly hillier 5k 8 months ago and to be just 23 seconds away from setting a PR. This has me so excited about "what's next" with marathon training and several other races I have in mind this summer.

Presbyterian Homes 5k, Lynchburg, running

As for my son (see last night's post for our pre-race photo), he did an awesome job today. He did his 3/4-mile race in 15:17. He ran most of the first half of it, but was a bit distracted at times by a nearby barn and horses, as well as a dump truck that we ran past. He's a very observant runner, that's for sure.

At 2 years old, he was the youngest runner out there. The next closest age was 5. It was a great way to kick off the Father's Day weekend. He said he had fun running and wants to do another one soon.

That makes two of us.

Presbyterian Homes 5k, Lynchburg, running