LANE PTA 5K - ALEXANDRIA, VA
|2nd place overall!! 1st place 30-39|
This was my first time running the Lane PTA 5k. I want to focus on 5ks for the next month or two, so I was looking for one to race on this early May weekend. There were several to choose from in the area. Lane Elementary School is part of the school system where I teach, so I figured this would be a good thing to support. And when I looked at results from last year, I noticed that the winning time was only a 19:44. Out of my previous 15 5k races, all but one has been in the 18s - and even the one that was in the 19s was a 19:01 (on a hilly course). So, if times stayed similar this year, I liked my chances to win the race!
However, I almost didn't run the race at all. It was pouring rain the night before the race. My wife and I went out to dinner with another couple that Friday night, and we got soaked after dinner while walking from the restaurant back to the car. I don't know if I have ever gotten that wet while walking that short of a distance. I wasn't preregistered for this race, so I decided that I would just see how the weather looked in the morning when I woke up and then make a "game-time decision" about whether I was going to run it or not.
When I woke up at 6:00, it wasn't really raining, maybe just a little drizzle. So, I chose to run! Once I arrived at Lane Elementary School, it really wasn't raining at all anymore. However, it did feel kind of warm and humid. I got registered, and ran my traditional one mile warm-up. I was a little worried that I might get lost in the race. I expected to win, but one bad thing about leading a race is that you have to know where you are going. Luckily, I talked to a nice gentleman who had run the race previously. He told me where the course went, and even where some big hills were. Big hills? Uh oh!
I lined up for the start, and looking around, I only noticed a couple other runners who might be able to compete with me. And the race was off! Several of the Lane Elementary students were running in the race. One annoying thing about kids in races is that they generally SPRINT all-out for the first 50 to 100 meters, and then just stop. Not slow down, just stop. So, the beginning of races with kids can be a little tricky navigating around all the traffic. Today there was a left turn about 50 meters into the race. The kids all sprinted out as expected, but for some reason, they all turned right! I was confused, but knew that you were supposed to go left, so I went left. Someone yelled for the kids to go left too, and they all eventually did. But luckily, the wrong turn gave me and several of the other faster runners just enough time to get out ahead of the pack and not have to worry about running around/through/over any of the kids.
|The race course|
Then we made a left turn back onto Hayfield Road and began another roughly 1/2 mile climb were the elevation increased by over 100 feet! I wanted to win, but I REALLY started to die on this hill. I heard the other runner just behind me and was pushing hard to hold him off as we climbed the hill. I wasn't wearing a heart rate monitor, but I think it was pretty close to my max during this part of the race. Eventually he passed me, but I refused to give up, and stayed right with him for about another 100 meters. Then he slowly got further, and further, and further, and further away. He ended up beating me by about 40 seconds! I thought he had run a really fast last mile to pull ahead, but when I checked my watch at the end, I realized that what had actually happened is that I had just run a really, really slow last mile - a 6:56!! That is the slowest mile I have run in a 5k in a long time. But then again, this was probably one of the most challenging 5k race courses I have ever run. I made the course elevation map below using veloroutes.org. The website seems like a good resource if you want to find out the elevation changes for one of your running routes - although many GPS watches will do this for you if you can connect them to a computer.
|Course elevation map: It was one "hill" of a course!!|
So, I ended up finishing 2nd place overall out of 96 runners, with a 19:25 (6:16/mile pace). (Lane PTA 5k Results) I won a nice medal and a $30 gift certificate to the Metro Run & Walk running store. This is only the second time I have not finished a 5k in the 18s since the fall of 2011. But again, I think the challenging course was the primary reason for that. This was actually my fourth 2nd place overall finish of 2013! I finished 2nd place overall at the By George 5k (February), the Gainesville 5k (March), and the Run Me Home 5k (April). Second place finishes are nice, but I think it is time to break through and break the tape with a first place finish soon!
The Lane PTA 5k was a well-organized race on a VERY challenging course with generous awards for age-group winners. There was a friendly atmosphere amongst the runners, as I talked with several interesting people before and after the race. And there were also many helpful and friendly volunteers along the way. I would recommend this race if you are looking for a small 5k that will give you a big challenge.