Offical time: 18:40. 11th overall. Results here.
I was looking forward this race. It's held at Bryant University and in memory of the brother of a coworker so it's a race I'm always happy to do. This was my first race since the Blessing back at the end of July and my first 5k since the Rock SK5k back from June. I had run this race last year in 20:40 but had since run several 18+ min races - I was thinking I had a shot at running an 18:30 or lower.
The course is a loop on grass that runs the edges of the Bryant soccer, baseball and football fields with a short dirt trail section thrown in. I opted to go with the New Balance MT00s since I've been feeling good in 'em lately and this is as benign a offroad surface as you're going to get. After putting in a couple overtime hours at the office, I went across the street to Bryant where lots was going on. There were football players lined up in their suits getting ready to prepare for their game. Folks were setting up their tailgating stations (well a few folks, this is Bryant after all.) And there were mens and womens college invitationals taking place before the Memorial 5k.
Did a brief warm-up, got a photo with the other Fidelity runners, met another local blogger Beth and then it was time to race. Loooong start line and I lined up at the far end with the faster alumni runners. Everyone was straining to hear the announcer. Then a gun was fired and we were off.
Fast start as always and I found myself moving at a 5 minute pace. Too fast but after a minute the surrounding runners began to ease off and I started running around 5:40 which was where I wanted to be. A couple young guys in team singlets passed me but I overtook 'em by the end of the first lap and found myself running with no one directly in front of me. Near the end of the first lap I hit the first mile at 5:48.
Heading into the second lap and it was getting a lot harder to hold the sub-6 pace. I could hear people behind me and just tried to maintain. The layout of the course meant that I had a great view of the runners ahead of me - I guessed I was in 12th position. About halfway through this loop I began to lap the back of the pack runners. Well, walkers actually. They were walking four abreast of course and appeared to be having a jaunty conversation. I startled them as I skirted around and continued on, startling more walkers as I went. I tried to alert people as I approached them but many were wearing headphones and couldn't hear me. I hit mile 2 earlier in the loop this time: 6:07.
As I'm finishing the second lap a huge billow of smoke from the post-race cookout wafts past me, illiciting a strange mixture of both revulsion and craving from my stomach. Finally a tall guy in a blue shirt that had been on my tail for most of the race made his move and surges past me. I try to keep with him but it's becoming really hard to maintain this 6-ish pace and he put some space between us as we're both zigzagging amongst the bulk of the runners still on their second lap. Mile 3: 6:03.
The third loop is shorter than the previous two. The trail section is omitted and the portion that skirts the football field is cut out. With .1 mile to go, Blue shirt guy goes left with the masses instead of right and I'm briefly ahead of him with one turn to go. I tried to find another gear but I'm worn out and then Blue Shirt guy surges by me once again with a surprising amount of speed. I end up finishing two seconds behind him.
So I finished in 11th place out of 237 with a time of 18:40. A new 5k PR by 2 seconds! I'm a little disappointed that I wasn't able to shave more time off my PR but I really don't train for this short a distance so I have no reason to complain. If I want to make excuses I could say that the grass terrain slowed me down a bit, as did dodging the other runners. But honestly the thing about the 5k distance is that you've got to be able to run fast and hard for the whole race. It requires a fortitude to push it to the max at such a short distance and that's not my forte. So I'll take the PR and be happy.
Running in the MT00s was no problem - this terrain was made for them. Afterwards I did a short cooldown and then stuffed my face at the cookout. They always have a good spread of burgers, dogs and desserts at this race. Chatted a little more with Beth while we ate and then I made the long journey home. Now if I can just shave 2 seconds off my PR at Surftown next weekend I'll be psyched!