By George 5k - Arlington, VA - February 2014
This was my 2nd time racing the By George 5k over Presidents Day weekend. Last year, I finished 2nd place overall in a time of 18:56. This year, however, there were some "complications" with the race.
We had a particularly brutal winter of 2014 in Northern Virginia, which included a late-week snow storm heading into Presidents Day weekend. I wasn't sure if the race, which was supposed to be at Hains Point, would be cancelled or not.
Late in the week, we got an e-mail that Hains Point would not be a viable option, but that they had secured an INDOOR location - the 200 meter indoor track at Jefferson Middle School in Arlington - to hold the 5k. An indoor 5k? This sounded crazy! I had never run any race on an indoor track, let alone a 5k - which would be a dizzying 25 laps around a tiny 200 meter oval. But, I am always up for trying something new and different, so I figured I would give it a go. By the Sunday of the race, I would probably be going stir crazy from being trapped inside with all the snow anyway, and ready to get out (or in) for a run.
I showed up on Sunday morning for the race, and the track at Jefferson was actually much nicer than I had imagined. Sure it was smaller than a 400 meter track, but it had 4 lanes and a good surface. I could see this working. They actually divided the race into several heats by age so as not to have the track be too crowded, which was a smart idea. I ran with the 30-49 year old men. The only thing I did not like was that the slower runners were told to stay to the inside lanes, and if you wanted to pass someone, you had to run outside of them, which adds distance to your run (and slows down your time). But given the volume of runners on such a small track, that was the safest and easiest option.
I hadn't been doing much speed work over the winter. My plan was to go out at 6:00/mile pace, and just see how long I could hold that for. The one good thing about running on a 200 meter track is that it really helps you keep track of your pace. Every 1/8 of a mile, you get feedback on your pace and whether you are going too fast or slowing down. So, for a 6:00 pace, I was trying to run each 200 m segment in 45 seconds. I was able to hold that pace for a little more than a mile, but then I noticed that I started losing a couple seconds each lap. I was holding on pretty securely to 2nd place, but didn't really have a good chance of catching the 1st place runner. I finished 2nd place overall out of 59 runners in 19:10 (6:10/mile pace). (Race Results) I don't know my total distance run because it was indoors and my GPS watch did not work. But I would guess that with all the passing on the outside lanes I had to do, my actual distance was quite a bit more than 3.1 miles. And my true pace, therefore, was probably actually faster than 6:10. But overall, it was a good race, and it was nice to get out of the house (even if it was just to go indoors somewhere else), and get in a run. For finishing 2nd overall, I even won a cherry pie in honor of Presidents Day weekend. Yum!