Morgan Hill Freedom Fest 5K 2019: A New Personal Record!

In Running, Race Report

GOALS: Given my current training condition, my goal today was sub-19 (6:06 min/mile). The reach goal was 17:59 (5:47 min/mile). The ‘C’ goal was to simply break 20 (I would’ve been very disappointed if that didn’t happen today). Ultimately, though, I only had one goal during the race itself: first, to stay with my teammate Brian (who has consistently crushed me at the last three races we’ve run together). Then, when I realized he was fading a bit just before Mile 1, to stay ahead of him. 🙂

PRE-RACE: I’m generally not the biggest fan of anything shorter than the half-marathon, and I think this is my second 5K of the year (?). So I was both mentally unprepared for this race AND I didn’t really have a benchmark for what my 5K time should be.

So a lot of the time leading up to this race (which I signed up for at the last minute last week) was me moaning to myself about how tired and burned out I was. This race was a great excuse in my head for taking extra recovery days, though!

As for race morning itself, I was surprised that I still woke up on time at 4:45am, before my alarm. I got a nice 2-mile warmup in. The only breakfast I had was one small Rice Krispy Treat, and one packet of Gu. I had a hard time forcing that Gu down, even before running. Spoiler: was glad after this race that this was only 5K. If I had to run a marathon today, it would’ve been literally shit galore (even though I was watching my diet these past couple days! Ugh!).

START LINE: Since this was a short-distance PA race, I knew what to expect at the start line: squeezing and cramming. Most people knew that there’d be a left turn at 0.50 miles, so there was even more squeezing and shuffling at the left side of the corral. At most 5K’s, I would’ve been pretty concerned about getting boxed in, in the opening seconds. But man, for this race, so many teams (especially Excelsior and Impala) showed up that I actually wasn’t too worried at all (in fact, I was concerned I’d be starting too slow for PA racers behind me!).

My only goal here was to stay behind Brian, and I succeeded.

MILE 0-0.5 (South Segment 1): This is the first time I’ve raced laps around a city block. So the first “segment” of this race was the south side of this block, before taking a left onto the east side. During my warmup, I was surprised to realize that this segment was actually slightly downhill. Then, during the race itself, I was REALLY surprised to find the downhill to be very noticeable. This made it hard to pace by watch. In the end, my biggest surprise was that I was still right behind Brian at the end of the block, and wasn’t feeling quite dead just yet.

Oh, one more note: at around mile 0.1, there was a official-sounding guy with a loudspeaker. As I passed by, he said “Enjoy this 3.2 mile race!” I don’t know who he was, but that confused the heck out of several people around me (two of which yelled “I want my 3.1 mile race!!!”). I didn’t find this particularly funny at the time, but now it seems a little more amusing.

MILE 0.5-0.9 (East Segment 1): During the first half-mile, I saw the trademark-yellow singlets of the Excelsior guys slowly take off into the distance. During this second “segment” (the east side of the block), I slowly saw them disappear from view. Around the middle of this block, though, I realized that either Brian was fading a bit early, or I was feeling good enough to take a risk at running faster, earlier. So to Brian’s surprise, I passed him.

MILE 0.9-1.4 (North Segment 1): The worst part about going downhill is knowing that the bill will come sooner or later. This “segment” was the bill. For the most part, I tried to run on feel here. But just before the turn, I glanced at my watch. It read: 5:55 min/mile. At this point, I knew that breaking 18 was realistic, and that I needed to stay under a 5:47 average. So this was where it started getting real for me.

MILE 1.4-1.7 (West Segment): Nothing of note here.

MILE 1.7-2.2 (South Segment 2): At this point, I noticed that some runners were starting to fade. Overall, I was still doing fine — cardio was holding up nicely, but as I passed the 2-mile sign, I caught myself thinking: “Am I glad this’ll be over in 5-6 minutes!!!”

MILE 2.2-2.6 (North Segment 2): Boy, I was annoyed during this segment. I expected some slower 5K runners on the road on their first lap — but I was surprised to see lines and lines of pedestrians on the course, heading to the parade. I had one near-miss collision; at least one other runner next to me was less lucky. Unfortunately, I had to take an extra wide left turn at the end of this segment.

In any case, near the middle of this segment, BRIAN PASSED ME! But it was brief; I passed him again before the last left turn.

MILE 2.6-3.1 (North Segment 2): I actually didn’t know this was exactly 0.5 miles. I just knew I had to hang on, and try to hang on under a 5:47 pace. At this point, my cardio was still holding up well, but my legs were feeling heavier and heavier. It occurred to me that I should try to hit my max pace here, but the guy ahead of me was too far, and Brian ended up never passing me.

TIMING: I started my watch at the gun. The clock at the finish line read 17:35 or 17:36 when I crossed it. But the preliminary results peg me at 17:50! As it turns out, these results were off by 6-10 seconds for the dozens of people I asked. Of course, this was a PA USATF Grand Prix race; hopefully my watch’s gun time is ultimately recorded. As for chip time, it did take a couple seconds after the starting gun for me to cross the starting timing strip; I hope the race organizers sort this out.

NEXT UP: Another marathon — Jack & Jill, in 3 weeks. Argh! Then the Skyline 50K. See you all there. Happy July 4th, everyone!

— UPDATE (2019-07-08) —
CHIP TIME: 17:42 (5:41 min/mile). GUN TIME: 17:43. BIB: #347.
OVERALL: 48/566. M25-29: 10/31.

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