Sunday, November 30, 2014

Frozen 5k - January 2014

Frozen 5k - Manassas, VA - January 2014
We both won age group awards!
This was my first race of 2014. My wife and I also ran the Frozen 5k last year, and really enjoyed it.  It is a super-fast, flat course, which begins at the Freedom Fitness and Aquatic Center in Manassas. Last year I ran an 18:09, which ended up being my fastest 5k of the entire year.

Unfortunately, this year, I suffered a back strain about a week before this race.  I couldn't do any running all week; just laid around a lot, icing my back.  Luckily we were still on winter break from school, so I had time to recover.  My back started to feel a little better by Thursday.  On Saturday, I ran an easy 3 miles just to test it out, with a quick pickup at the end of the run to see how it felt to run fast. I honestly had no idea what I was going to do in the race, which was on a Sunday.  I thought I could (a) just not do it, (b) just jog it easy, (c) jog it easy, but drop out before the finish, so that my slow time would not be recorded, (c) run with my wife, (d) run fast but not all out - maybe just try to break 20, or (e) just run all out, and go as fast as I could, or my pain tolerance would allow. 

Sunday morning turned out to be bitterly cold, with sleet and freezing rain coming down - very appropriate for the Frozen 5k, I suppose. I ran an easy warm-up before the race. My back was still sore, but much better than it had been earlier in the week. It was a little tight, I think, just from not doing much all week.  I decided that I would try to run somewhat fast, and just see what I could do.  I also decided to just wear my regular running shoes instead of my racing flats, to give a little more cushioning, and perhaps more support and shock absorbtion to help out my back. 

I started the race with a fast, but somewhat conservative, 6:00 first mile.  Oddly, I think this actually helped me somewhat.  Many times, I will go out way too fast in 5ks and then crash at the end.  Going out more conservatively helped me run stronger 2nd and 3rd miles than I otherwise might have.  I actually picked up the pace over the last 2 miles. But it was definitely challenging running through the freezing rain.  The streets were also covered with icy patches in several places along the course, forcing runners to slow down and watch their footing.

I finished in 18:30 (5:58/mile pace), taking 16th place overall out of 449 runners, and 2nd place in my age group.  (Race Results)  The time was 20 seconds slower than last year, so I was not thrilled with it.  But, given that I was not 100%, and I was running in and on ice during the race, I think it was the best I could do.  And it was certainly much faster than I would have imagined I was going to run just a few days earlier when I was lying on the floor with ice packs on my lower back.

The Frozen 5k is a quality local race which I will be running again, and would strongly recommend to others. It is a well-organized event with a cheap entry fee ($20), good shirts, good awards, and a fast course. Who could ask for anything more?

Christmas Caper 5k - December 2013

Christmas Caper 5k - Washington, DC December 2013

We both finished 2nd in our age group!
This was my final race of 2014, my first race since the Philadelphia Marathon, and my only race in December.  The Christmas Caper actually has a 5k and a 10k to choose from - which I like, because it waters down the competition and makes it easier to win an award.  Last year, I ran the 10k, but was more in a 5k kind of mood this time.

The race was run at Hains Point in DC, which is about as flat as it gets.  The only bad part is that Hains Point is a peninsula, so sometimes there is some pretty nasty wind, which slows you down.

The 5k started at 7:50 and the 10k started at 8:00.  We were running the 5k, but for some reason, I was thinking that our race didn't start until 8.  I got back to my car at 7:46 or so after a warm-up, realized my error, frantically threw on my racing flats, sprinted over to the start line, and made it just in time to, well, start.

It cetainly was not an ideal warm-up, but I settled down during the first mile, running a 5:55.  I finished in 18:51 (6:05/mile pace) to take 4th place overall and 2nd in my age group.  (Race Results)  Not a bad post-marathon return to racing.  My wife also finished 2nd in her age group, and our prizes were quite exciting. I won a Christmas mug, and she won a Christmas towel set.  The race is put on by the Potomac Valley Track Club, and they always give out silly holiday-themed awards to age-group winners.

So, after 21 total races - including new PRs in the 10k and half marathon - that was a wrap on 2013!