Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Conshy Classic 5K: 3/15/2014 race recap

Hey friends, after a few weeks of no races and just training, we finally got in a quick 5K.  Our previous 5K was a distant 5 weeks prior and I was quite a bit leaner and meaner.  My focus was finally breaking the 20-minute barrier after turning in a nice 20:51 at the flat Philly Navy Yard race.

Leading up to this race, I'd been enjoying some nice long runs and rides in my training.  I had a solid 12-mile trail run the previous weekend and felt awesome, a few bike rides on the trainer and a few other workouts peppered in the schedule.  The odd thing this past week was seemed like a relatively benign 5-mile run I made on Wednesday.  After this training run which I used to try to establish what my lactic acid threshold heart rate (LTHR) was, in an effort to learn to train a little smarter, my calves were angry with me for running on pavement, apparently.  Even Saturday morning, I was still really stiff.  I jogged around a bit, stretched and did everything I could imagine to loosed up.  There was a lot of uncertainty of Friday how I'd approach this race but after some jogging and stretching I was feeling loose enough to resume my pursuit of the 20-minute goal for this race, still a little nervous.

The "Classic" part of the Conshohocken Classic 5K is lost on me.  This is the first annual 5K that Bryn Mawr Running put on here but I look forward to do it again next year but I don't get what makes it classic yet, whatever.  It's a nice loop around our neighborhood and downhill on the route the St. Patrick's Parade will take through town.  If you're not familiar with Conshohocken, it's like most PA towns: Kinda hilly.  It would be a little more challenging to tackle than our last road 5K.  The course was a point-to-point with a loop in the middle, ending about 2 blocks from our apartment.  It was windy but sunny and we were excited.

I don't normally line up at the front of the pack but after sizing up the field, I lined up at about the 4th row.  well behind the guys in their school track tanks.   With the start I sprinted up the immediate hill with the lead pack, dodging a few folks that had no business being anywhere near the front (no offense, except to the guy wearing a Flyers jersey with "Crosby Sux" written in electrical tape on it).  I realized really fast I was 5th or 6th and as we crested the hill and turned downhill, I caught my breath a little and cruised as quickly as I could downhill while recovering as much as possible.
I'm in there somewhere.

Thanks, Times Herald, for my only race picture (that's me under the flag).
I could see the leader and handful of people between us and we slowly all drifted apart, it looked like we were in our places running our own races and I tried to estimate the gap between me and first, I knew it wasn't my day to challenge this guy, so I focused on the task at hand.  We rounded the corner where we'd eventually finish and made our way up the short hill for the loop.  I was still feeling good and ready to take on the uphill at a smart pace.  I regained a spot I lost on the downhill then lost another 2 to the a girl and some kid who was about 9.  My lungs burned but I ignored it.  After all, it's a sprint, soon enough it would be over but turning the corner at the crest of the hill felt like I was dragging a person behind me.  I expected relief during the final downhill backstretch but it never came.  What did come was an awesome stitch in my side at 2.5 miles.  Damn it all.  Without checking my pace or total time, I knew I was running my fastest and very near breaking 20.  I focused on breathing and raised my right arm over my head to try to alleviate the stitch and tried to maintain what little speed it felt I had.  A few runners overtook me on the backstretch.  I was sure to leave nothing in the tank so I gave chase.

I didn't regain my lost positions and the race timer was probably in sight before I noticed it but when I did look up about 30 yards away, I watched it tick from 00:19:59 to 00:20:00.  I might have uttered a very audible "SHIT" and look around to see how inappropriate that might have been then quietly turned in a PR and hit the deck to catch my breath.  My official chip time was 20:109 and 11th overall, 3rd in AG.  My Garmin data  also showed 20:09 which I thought to be longer than my chip time but only 3.04 miles.

It's dumb to be frustrated with a distance PR (by about 40 seconds) on a harder course.  Nevertheless, there I was, complaining to Kristen about being so close to my goal and missing it.  If anything's certain, I ran a heck of a race and there's not a doubt I crush my next 5K and the 20-minute mark.  As of now, it looks like it will be the Yeungling Lager Jogger in a few weeks in Pottsville, PA... apparently a hillier course.  As my friend Kelly would say, honeybadger don't care.

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