Monday, April 16, 2012

Pawz 2 Run 5K Recap

I had only decided to take part in the Pawz 2 Run 5K 12 hours before the start. The race was the 1st of 9 5K's/10K's that Davidson Timing, LLC was recording as part of their new ROC series. Just participating in the 5K granted me some bonus points, so I figured, what's another 5K? Having just set a major 10K PR the weekend before, and having had an enjoyable week of vacation and running at the beach, I was feeling good, so I hoped to at least record a respectable time, but ever since I got a sub-39 10K, I've kept my mind open to the possibility of a sub-19 minute 5K. Was today the day?

P2R used the same course as many Davidson 5K's: A downhill first mile down South St., a cut onto the South Prong River Greenway, a tough uphill second mile on Avinger, a turnaround and slightly uphill half mile on Pine, and then a rolling last half mile on Lorimer to finish at the Town Green. It was not the easiest course, but I had the benefit of knowing where the fast and slow parts of it were.

After registering on race morning, I did a brief warm-up run with veteren speedster Bobby Aswell--though not as brief as either of us wanted, because we nearly got lost on the way back to the race. Ooops! I lined up next to Jeremy and Julie Alsop, who both were competing in the 10K event, as was Bobby. After a short course description and some re-routing of traffic by our vigilant DART spectator Dave Munger, we were off. Knowing the first mile was the fastest, I pushed the pace straight off the line and moved ahead of the entire pack, trying to stay well below a 6 minute pace to bank some time. It was not until I saw Dave's photo later in the day that I realized exactly how far of a lead I gained in the first few hundred meters.

Front-running is awkward for me. I am used to watching my pace and letting the rest of the field fade back to me in the last third of the race. I had to remind myself that I was playing to the course, not the other runners. As this was going through my head, I heard footfalls advance to directly behind me shortly after veering onto the greenway. Was I fading back to the pack? No, I distinctly heard only one runner, and he (or she) seemed determined to maintain his position on my heels for the time being.  My first mile split was a speedy 5:45.

Coming off the greenway, I started feeling the progressive slope of Avinger. My watch told me I was slowing down, but my breathing was a far more telltale sign. Maybe I went out too quickly. If I did, there is no real room in a 5K race to correct such mistakes, so I had to hang on as best as I could. As I turned off Avinger, I grabbed a little more speed on my way to the turnaround. My pursuer stayed right in my blindspot. Half a mile later, at the turnaround, I was able to sneak my first peak at him and size him up: probably out of my age group, white shirt, black shorts, and a pair of Mizuno Wave Ronins. Most importantly, he did not look out of breath, and I was beginning to heave a little. I motored back up Pine and saw that "Ronin" and I were still far ahead of the rest of the pack. Bobby, Jeremy, Julie, and fellow DARTers Jason Gardener and Tara Owens all cheered me on as they saw me headed back the other direction, still in the lead. My 2nd mile split was 6:23--predictably slower due to the climb on Avinger. Doing some quick math in my head, I reasoned that I still had a shot at sub-19, but I would have to maintain a 6:07ish pace for the rest of the race.

I married myself to my intended pace for the rest of Pine St. Shortly after we made the turn onto Lorimer, Ronin made his move. He clearly had plenty left in the tank, because after passing me, he quickly built up a 5, 10, 15 second lead. There was not enough course left for me to retaliate; he was out of reach. What a superbly run race! Now, knowing there was no one left behind me who was a threat to pass, I could focus solely on keeping my pace. My watch displayed 18:15 just as it beeped off the third mile mark. The last 0.1 mile was uphill, but I knew the finish line was just out of view. I dug into a sprint and saw the gun clock counting up into the 18:40's. As I crossed the finish line, my official time was 18:51. I had broken 19 minutes! That's two major speed milestones in as many weekends. Dave was there to snap my picture at the end.

I congratulated Ronin on his well run race, and he introduced himself as Randy Francis. He had beaten me by 14 seconds.  My fellow DARTers did well at P2R as well. Bobby won the 10K with a 39:56, and Jeremy was a close second with 40:00 (although I think he crossed the line at sub-40). Fellow DARTer Courtney Ellabarger won the female division of the 10K with a 40:39, and Julie took second place with just over 43 minutes. Tara took third place overall for females in the 5K, and Jason and fellow DARTer Belinda West each earned age group awards for the 5K. Whew, way to represent, DART!

Gear used: Inov-8 Bare-X Lite 150. For a brief review of this shoe, see my recap of last month's Leprechaun Loop.

Next on my race calender:

4/28/12 (possibly) Our Boys 10K, Concord, NC

5/6/12: Long Cane 50K, Abbeville, SC

6/1-2/12: 24 hours of Loopy for a Cause, Davidson, NC

9/7-8/12: (possibly) Blue Ridge Relay, Asheville, NC

9/29-30/12:Hinson Lake 24 Hour Classic, Rockingham, NC

11/10/12: Anthem Marathon, Richmond, VA

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