While I knew much of this course was off-road -- some gravel, dirt and grass -- I had the brief thought that I should be able to set a PR.
In the time since my 5k PR in Ohio in July, I've continued to push myself and my forced hill training has proven to work in my other flat race -- the Percival's Island 5 Miler. While I wanted to run hard, I tried to push off PR thoughts until I started running.
With more than 400 people running, and a narrow bridge about a half mile into the race, I took off. I glanced at my watch about two-tenths of a mile in to check my pace and a co-worker pushed my wrist down and told me to stop looking at it. I managed to pass quite a few people before the potential bridge jam and then just pushed the pedal harder -- 6:45 in the first mile. I didn't feel like it was too fast, but I knew it would be tough to maintain.
Much of the second mile was on the road -- I was feeling good and was able to hit 7:01. In my head I knew that as long as I didn't fall in a hole I could set a PR, but could I break 22 minutes?
With most of the third mile on grass, and very mentally challenging as I could continuously see the finish line, I kept telling myself to hold it together. Don't look at the watch. Keep my head up. Go. Just go.
As I hit mile 3, a younger woman passed me and said something -- I think "good job" or "almost there" or something like that.
It was what I needed for a final surge and pass her just before the finish mat and get under 22 minutes for a 5k for the first time ever.
I looked at my Garmin -- 21:54. I almost threw up. My official time was 21:52, nearly 20 seconds faster than my PR from July 4. I've shaved off nearly 50 seconds off my 5k race time this summer.
I was 83rd out of 402 finishers; 8th in my age group out of 23.
My co-workers also did a great job with one of them running under an 8-minute mile pace for the first time ever.
It was a great day all around that course as more than 30 people had less than a 6-minute mile pace. It's the type of day that gives me thoughts of getting my 5k time even lower and one day breaking a 7-minute mile pace.
As I look ahead to the next couple of months, this will very likely be the last race until the Baltimore Marathon. As great as I feel about yesterday's race, today's long run is a different story. But that's for another post some other time. This 5k PR is worth celebrating.
Thanks to Sam Rice for all the photos!