Long story short: I nailed a new PR. Actually blew my old one out of the water ... cutting off 26 seconds from my previous best. I'm VERY happy! 20:10 official finish. 22nd overall and 2nd in my age division.
The long version: After running 4 races in 4 weeks, I hadn't planned on this one. But I was nudged to when I heard of 3 races on our Canadian Thanksgiving Day. The first was a 5k trail race, and that was my 1st choice until I couldn't find a hotel nearby at a decent price. My second choice was a point to point road 5k, but when I went to register, it was sold out. So, I went for this one ... a series of road runs of various distances following a route around Exhibition Park in Guelph, Ontario. I opted for the 5k. I actually wanted to see how fast I could run this distance to help give me some idea of a goal time for Boston.
So, I left Sudbury on Sunday afternoon and arrived in Cambridge (of 25k Trail Race fame last weekend) just as the sun was setting. I checked into my hotel, and then went to Boston's Pizza to eat, drink, and watch the Blue Jays take on Texas in game three of their series. WHAT a game! Lasagna, beer and baseball. Works for me. I remembered that 4 beers helped me a few weeks ago in my Toronto 5k, so 4 beers it was. Of course, that previous game saw Toronto slaughtered. This time, it was high fives all around with complete strangers. I didn't get to bed until almost midnight, but the race didn't start until 11:30 the next morning, so all was good.
COLD morning! Had to scrape my windows. At 8am it was -3C/28F, but it warmed up to an ideal 7C/45F by race time. It was clear and no wind.
The race was only a 20 minute drive from my hotel. The route around Exhibition Park is 1800 meters, so my race was about 2 3/4 laps of the route. I checked it out on google maps ahead of time, and I walked it the morning of. The long stretches of the block are about a half mile long, and the shorter ones then are a little more than 100 meters. That's where the hills were. Both were uphill; one was 50 meters up sharp, while the other was 100 meters up. Both downhills on the long stretches were gradual. Not a difficult course.
I positioned myself pretty much on the line. There was no timing mat at the start - just at the end, and I wanted an accurate official time. Turned out it was a good position for me. I came in 22nd out of 272 runners. The first mile was my fastest - run in 6:25. The second I ran in 6:33 and the third in 6:29. The final 200 meters I sprinted at a 5:18 pace, peaking at 4:54.
When I saw the clock on the home stretch, I could see it approaching 20 minutes. I knew, based on my mile splits, that I would not break 20, but I was still sad to see it turn. However, I was pumped at my time. A good race. And in looking back, I could not think of where I might have picked up the 10 seconds. If I attacked the hills harder, I would have gassed. If I ran the straights harder, I would have faded more at the end. As it was, in the final 200 meters, I passed a number of runners, but had one final runner in my sights. I couldn't find an extra gear to catch him, and he ended up finishing a half second ahead of me (and a 27 year old, so I don't feel bad). But the fact that I knew I could not run faster than I did tells me that I ran the best I could this day. I'll take it.
And, having a 20:10 5K under my belt today, tells me that my Boston goal time of 3:25 or less is very achievable. I've decided to go with the Hanson's program again. Officially starts in 9 weeks. Between now and then I'm going easy with base mileage. Maybe a 10K Turkey Trot on American Thanksgiving . Maybe.