Thursday, May 9, 2013

Run Me Home 5k - April 2013


This was my first time running the Run Me Home 5k. I hadn't really planned on running the race, but my primary motivations were that (a) it was free, and (b) I thought I could win.  

Family portrait!
The race was free thanks to a friend of mine.  He had recently won the Champions for Children 5k in Reston, and one of his prizes was a complimentary entry into the Run Me Home 5k/10k.  He couldn't run it, so he just gave me the entry.  I still wasn't sure if I would do the race though, until I checked the results from previous years.  The 2012 winning time was a 19:22, and the 2011 winning time was only a 20:12.  I should be able to beat that easily, I thought!  The race was also a 5k/10k, which tends to water down the competition and give you better odds of winning an award, especially if you run the 5k. (How You (Yes, you!) Can Win an Age-Group Award). 

I did absolutely no tapering for this race.  It was on the last Saturday in April, and just six days earlier, I had set a new 10k PR at the Pike's Peek 10k.  I also completed a tough 8x600 vo2 max workout on the track earlier in the week. So, my legs were definitely not fresh and springy.  But I figured that since it was free, and I had a good chance to win, it was worth a shot.

The course begins in front of Catoctin Elementary School in Leesburg.  The race gets off to a quick start, with a mostly downhill first mile.  However, you climb about 100 feet during a challenging 2nd mile.  The 3rd mile is mostly flat, but there is a fairly steep uphill at the very end.

Run Me Home 5k Course Elevation Map

I arrived at the race about an hour before the start with my wife and our dog, Dante.  My wife did not run the race today because she was doing the Nike Women's Half Marathon the next day - which she crushed, by the way, breaking 2 hours for the first time and setting new PR!  So, her and Dante were just there to cheer me on.  

 The 10k started about 10 minutes before the 5k.  I watched the start of that race before heading over to the starting line.  One of my friends from work was there too, and his wife was running the 10k.  10 minutes later, the 5k race was off! 
My new running buddy!

I went out into the lead, and stayed there for about 3/4 of a mile until one other runner passed me.  Right after he passed me, the course made a left turn onto the W&OD Trail - which he was apparently unaware of.  This race was good overall, but it would have been nice if they had a couple more people along the course telling you where to go.  Luckily I did know that there was a left turn there, so I shouted, "LEFT! LEFT!" to the other runner before he went too far past the turn.  He quickly corrected and I followed closely behind.  I suppose I could have just let him go past the turn, and taken back the lead.  But if I had to win the race that way, I would rather not win at all.  I agree with the late Joe Paterno's sentiment that, "Success without honor is an unseasoned dish; it will satisfy your hunger, but it won't taste good." 

I finished the first mile in a solid 5:46, but then the 2nd mile climb began.  My goal was to stay close the the 1st place runner, and maybe try to surge ahead of him on the final mile.  But I really didn't run a very strong 2nd mile, with a 6:20.  Although I'm sure the 100 foot climb had something to do with that.  Still, I feel like I shouldn't have slowed down that much.  I want to work on pushing harder in the 2nd mile of my 5ks. Lately, it seems like I am running a fast first mile and then just "cruising" through the second mile, but not really pushing myself.  The good news is that I was still right behind the other runner at the 2 mile mark, and even passed him briefly right after the 2 mile marker.  Unfortunately, he really turned on the jets at that point, and took off.  I ran a 6:02 final mile, which, again, I wish had been a little faster - 5:50 -5:55 would have been nice.  I think the lack of a taper hurt me here. But it wouldn't have mattered much what I ran, because the 1st place runner ended up beating me by 29 seconds.  This means that he ran his final mile in about 5:30! No way I was keeping pace with that.

The final stretch was up a steep hill, and I finally reached the finish line in 18:58 (6:02/mile pace), taking 2nd place overall out of 190 runners! (Race Results2nd place was great, but I actually wasn't thrilled by my finishing time...I want to be down in the low 18s and high 17s eventually this spring.  But given the previously mentioned circumstances, I suppose it was a reasonable effort.
$50 gift certificate!

 I actually beat last year's winning time by 24 seconds, and the winning time from the year before by over a minute, but it just wasn't quite enough this year.  Sometimes racing is just about luck and who does, or does not, show up.  To add to my annoyance, the winning 10k time was only a 39:37!  Generally, in a 5k/10k, the 10k tends to be the more competitive race.  But this time, I actually would have had a much better chance of winning the 10k.  Oh well, 2nd place is still pretty good.  This was actually my third 2nd place race finish this year.  I had previously finished 2nd overall in the By George 5k (February) and the Gainesville 5k (March).  For finishing 2nd place overall at this race, I won a $50 gift certificate to Potomac River Running - not a bad return on investment for a free race!

I would recommend the Run Me Home 5k/10k to anyone looking for a small, not super-competitive race on a mildly challenging course.  It was pretty well organized (other than maybe needing a couple more people on the course showing you where to go), and they gave out nice awards (gift certificates and trophies).  And most importantly of all, they gave out Chick-fil-A chicken biscuits to runners after the race!  Yum!

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