Thursday, May 23, 2013

Miles for Melanoma 5k - May 2013

May 2013
1st Place Overall!! Lots of prizes!!

With four second place overall finishes already under my belt in 2013, it was time to break through and finally win one.  I was looking for a fast 5k course to run this weekend.  The Miles for Melanoma 5k is a new race this year, which I had found out about through the school where I teach.  The mother of a former student at my school had actually suffered from Melanoma, but recovered.  So, she decided to organize this race to raise money and awareness.

The race began in Vienna, near the train on the WO&D Trail.  The course begins on Ayr Hill Road.  You run about 100 meters before making a right turn onto the trail.  Then you just stay on the trail until the half way point, turn around and come back to finish.  There is a slight, gradual decline on the way out and (obviously) a slight, gradual incline on the way back.  I have run this course before in two previous races, and finished in about 18:55 both times.  I knew from experience that it was a fairly fast course, despite the incline on the second half.

I really didn't have a good concept of what I could do in a 5k at this point. A few weeks earlier, I ran the Run Me Home 5k in the high 18s - but that was just 6 days after setting a 10k PR and not well-rested.  Then, just one week ago, I ran a slow (for me) 19:25 on a VERY hilly course at the Lane PTA 5k.  So, I still didn't really know exactly what I could do in a 5k, but I thought I should be somewhere in the low 18s under the right conditions.  I wanted to really go after it today and see what I was capable of.  The weather, however, was not cooperating.  It had rained the night before and the morning of the race.  The rain finally stopped just about 5 minutes before the race, but the humidity was suffocating.  It felt like you could eat the air with a spoon.

The race started and I went out like a rocket, with reckless abandon.  I ran the first mile in 5:35!!  Even though there was a slight decline, this was probably a little too fast, although effort-wise, it actually didn't feel that bad.  I knew I was in first place after the first mile, but wasn't sure by how much.

Eventually I reached the half way turn-around point in a blazing 8:52.  I had a great shot to get in the low 18s, or maybe even break 18.  And now that I was turning around, I could see my competition and how much of a lead I had.  But when I turned around I didn't see anyone.  I kept running and still didn't see anyone for a while.  Was I going the right way? Did the other runners get lost or something?  Fortunately, I knew I was going the right way, because there was a volunteer biker leading me along the course.

Finally I saw the other runners coming towards me and the turn around point.  It was probably about 45 seconds before I saw another runner after the turn around point, which meant that I was leading the race by about 1:30!  There was virtually no way I could lose this race.  I wanted to keep running hard, but it is tough to keep pushing yourself when everyone else is so far behind.  I started to slow down, but then decided that I would run hard through the second mile, and relax a bit during the 3rd mile.
1st Place Overall!!

I ran the second mile in 5:58, which I was happy with. My second mile has been kind of slow during my last few 5ks, so it felt good to run one under 6 minutes.  I was at 11:33 through 2 miles, which is on pace to break 18 minutes.  But again, being so far ahead with no one pushing me, it was tough to continue at this grueling pace.  I probably could have run a 10 minute final mile and still won the race.

I did not run a 10 minute mile, but I did ease off considerably on the third mile, and ran a "leisurely" 6:24.  I finished in 18:43 (6:03/mile pace), taking first place overall out of 200 runners!   (Miles for Melanoma 5k Results)  My wife and dog were at the race too, cheering me on.  Right after I crossed the finish line, my wife let go of our dog, Dante's leash, and he sprinted across the finish line to join me in the celebration!  Winning the race felt great.  I frequently place very high, but have not actually won too many races in my life.

My cheering section! (and a random kid)
The Miles for Melanoma 5k was an excellent event, which I would recommend to anyone.  I liked that they gave awards for the top 3 overall, and the top 3 in each age-group in 5-year age categories.  This gave a lot of people a chance to win awards.  Also, it is a fairly fast course if you are looking for a PR.

Now I will continue working on my 5ks with some basic speed workouts (200s/400s/hill sprints) and VO2 max workouts (600s, 800s, 1000s, 1200s, and 1600 intervals at 5k pace or slightly faster). My next race will be the Herndon Festival 5k.  I have finished in the top 10 overall there three years in a row.  But it should be a competitive race, which will probably push me to run faster than I ran in this race, especially in the second half.

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