Thursday, June 13, 2013

Herndon Festival 5k - June 2013

Herndon Festival 5k - Herndon, VA
June 2013

One of the things Northern Virginia is known for is the multitude of festivals held in local towns throughout May and June.  One of those festivals is called the Herndon Festival, and a 5k/10k race is included in the weekend festivities.  2013 would mark my 4th time running this 5k.  I improved from a 20:33 in 2010, to a 19:47 in 2011, to an 18:50 in 2012.  I also won my age-group in 2011 and 2012.  So, this year, I was looking to continue improving my time and also to defend my age-group championship.

The race t-shirt

 The race shirt was a standard, white cotton t-shirt with the Herndon Festival logo and race distances printed on the front.  The white is kind of boring.  Although, I do like getting white shirts sometimes, because I can wear them under other shirts sometimes.  Many races also now give out dri-fit shirts, so the cotton shirt is a bit "behind the times."  Overall, I rate the shirt as a 4 out of 10.


It was a hot day for the race, with temperatures hovering in the mid to high 70s, along with high humidity.  The temperature wasn't outrageous, but in early June, most people are not acclimated to running in the heat yet.  When it is hot out, your heart pumps more blood outward to the skin to stay cool.  This means that there is less blood available to pump to hard-working running muscles, which makes it more difficult to maintain a given pace.  So, weather would definitely be a factor.

 The race course is moderately challenging.  The first mile is a breeze, almost entirely downhill.  However, the largest hill on the course begins towards the end of that first mile.  The rest of the course rolls, with some uphills and some downhills.  Not really a great course to set a PR, but not a terrible course either.

Herndon Festival 5k - Course Elevation


A large group congregated at the start line.  I tucked in behind a few high school boys who looked like they would get off to a fast start.  The race began, and the three high school runners took off like bats out of Hell.  Another runner also went along with them, and I settled into 5th place.  I ran a great first mile, using that downhill to my advantage to clock a 5:35.  Right around the one mile mark, I passed one of the high school runners who seemed to have gone out too fast and was tiring out.

I stayed strong up the hill and throughout my second mile, running a 6:04.  I passed another high school runner going up the hill.  Towards the end of the second mile, I finally passed another runner - who seemed to be struggling with the heat - to move into 2nd place.  There was one more high school runner ahead of me in 1st place.  I tried to surge to catch him at the beginning of the 3rd mile, but didn't seem to be making up much ground.  I felt pretty comfortable running in 2nd place, and didn't think any of the runners I had passed had much chance to catch me.  Maybe I got a little too comfortable though, because I slowed down to a 6:21 for my final mile.

I crossed the finish line in 19:09 (6:10/mile pace), taking 2nd place overall out of 609 runners! (Race Results)   It felt great to finish 2nd place overall out of such a large race field.  I beat a lot of people!  This was actually my 5th 2nd place overall race finish of 2013!  I had previously finished 2nd place overall in the By George 5k (February), Gainesville 5k (March), Run Me Home 5k (April), and the Lane PTA 5k (May). 

I was happy with how I ran this race.  Even though my first mile was fast, it was a reasonable effort considering that it was downhill.  I conserved enough energy to conquer a challenging hill and run a solid 2nd mile.  It felt good to stay strong through the heat and hills, and pass people along the way, as I moved from 5th place up to 2nd by the end of the race.  I wasn't particularly thrilled with my finishing time - which was almost 20 seconds slower than last year - but I attribute a lot of that to the heat and humidity.  Last year's race was much cooler.  I think I could have easily run in the mid-18s under better conditions.  I also ran a lot of extra distance in this race, measuring 3.18 miles on my GPS watch.  This was largely due to the 10k runners.  The 10k race started only about 10 minutes before the 5k race.  So, shortly after the 1st mile, I started running into the back of several of the slower 10k runners.  I had to run around many of them, which made it impossible to take the shortest tangents, and frequently forced me to swerve and take absurdly wide angles around turns.


Medal front
Medal back
I won a shiny "gold" medal for my efforts today.  A little lame, if you ask me.  In a race with almost 1,000 runners between the 5k and 10k, they should be able to spring for cash prizes or gift certificates for the top 3 overall finishers. Instead they only gave awards to 1st place overall in each race, and then did age-group medals for the rest.

 One cool thing about the medal, though, is that it was the 3rd consecutive one I have won from this race.  That makes me the 3-time defending age-group champion of the Herndon Festival 5k, as I continue my "reign of terror" over the 30-39 age-group!  My wife and in-laws ran this race as well.  My mother-in-law is a super-fit runner and triathlete.  She ran a great race, and joined me in winning her age-group.

3-time defending age-group champion!
One fast mother-in-law!

The next race I plan on running will not be until until July 4th.  One of my friends is visiting DC from out of town that weekend and we are running the Go Fourth 8k in Vienna. My plan for now is to just maintain some easy-paced mileage until mid-July, when I will start training for the Philadelphia Marathon.  I am going to follow Pete Pfitzinger's Advanced Marathoning 18-week, up to 55-miles/week plan.  This plan worked really well for me last year.  I felt really fit and ran some great 5ks, 10ks, and a half-marathon all through the fall.  And even though I had bad luck, getting sick right before the marathon, I still ran a great race there too, setting a new PR by 19 minutes.  I think that if I follow the plan again this summer/fall, and just stay healthy, I should be able to break 3:10 and qualify for the Boston Marathon.