I was curious about running a 5K after training for 9 months for the marathon/ultramarathon distances. I've run a 5K before in college and a few during high school cross country season. Unfortunately, I am not able to dig up any of those race times, as it would be fun to compare those results to the one from today.
During the last week I emailed with my high school track coach and came to the conclusion that for a short distance of 3.1miles, I should try to start out fast and hang on for dear life towards the end. In High School, I remember too often arriving at the finish line of a 1 or 2 Mile race with something left in the tank. Therefore, I don't know if I truly ran my best times. I want to make sure to be close to empty when I cross the finish line.
The only reference I have to a 5K running time is a time trial I did during the winter on the treadmill. I ran a 20:19min with a 2% constant incline. Now, running on a treadmill this fast is more like a controlled falling forward and is not as difficult as running outside, where you have to push off yourself, which requires more exertion. Also, on a treadmill you don't have to keep track of your pace as you just go with the set speed.
There must've been around 150 people, I think, to start the race, ranging from former SDSU cross country runners, families with strollers and about 25 ROTC members. This depsite it being very cold for a 5K and a 6.30am start time on a Friday morning probably limited the otherwise greater number of participants.
I noticed a runner seperating himself from the bulk of people after only 30 seconds and was soon out of sight. "Starting out fast" for me translated to a 6:31min 1st mile. I took advantage of the slight long gradual downhill on the north side of McCrory Gardens down to Frost Arena. Rounding the HPER and making the way up and past the SDSU track oval I noticed an unfamiliar burning in my quads: I was running beyond my comfortable training pace. I knew this would hurt more the next day even, but I was glad I was putting out near max effort. For the 2nd mile I slowed down to a 7:07min/mile, as I started noticing my left achilles acting up. I had taped it prior to the race, but didn't consider it worth to push harder. Also I had lost connection to the group of runners in front of me and nobody behind me for about 50 yards. Circling the SDSU campus always makes me a little nostalgic, but today I wasn't enjoying it as usual, since I was struggling with the cold morning air. I had mistakenly taken off my neck warmer right before the start as I felt too warm. This ended up making breathing through my mouth hurt more than usual.
The final mile was spent in solitude, as the next person behind me and in front of me were too far to challenge for positioning and I kept steady at 7:05min for the 3rd mile and "sprinting" the last .1mile. I hit my target for the day of breaking 22min by finishing in 21:35 (official time; even though my watch showed 21:18), which was good for 21st overall (out of 205 starters).
The best part was receiving a free tree as a reward for finishing the race. Much cooler than a standard medal-type reward. After a snack and brief conversation with some other runners, I quickly made my way home and got ready to start my regular work day.
I will try to run a few more 5Ks this year as they are an excellent speed training for the longer races and I think once the weather is above 40 degrees and there isn't snow on the ground, I will try to break the 20min mark.
Overall, it was a beautiful morning at McCrory Gardens and the SDSU campus and I liked the low-key atmosphere of the event.