The sun peeked over the horizon and temps were in the 50s as we drove to the park for our first 5K of 2014. It was a perfect morning for a race.
We arrived a little early and were treated to a sea of bluebonnets blanketing the field next to the trail. So like good Texans, we snapped the obligatory bluebonnet pictures.
Last year, the Tri Doc 5K was a tiny costume race–maybe thirty people–that B ran on his own. It was the week before the Cleveland half marathon and I didn’t want to aggravate my left calf, which had been giving me allllll kinds of trouble. I cheered him on as he placed second in his age group. This year, Rogue sponsored the race, which benefits Marathon High, a running program for at-risk teens. As a result, turnout was much higher–lots of my Rogue friends had signed up too. M had the injury this time, so instead of racing, he brought his camera and became the unofficial race photographer, staking out a great spot near the start/finish line. Thus B and I were tasked with upholding the family’s honor amid a field of about 100 runners.
I’ve been training hard all winter and had an ambitious time goal in mind; B wanted to run his first sub-30 minute race.
The course was an out-and-back along Brushy Creek Trail, a location I’ve run a gazillion times. The first section had gotten a bit muddy due to a weird hailstorm that hit last night, but otherwise it’s mostly flat with a wide sidewalk, a really nice route.
I have a tendency to start off too fast, but if I had any chance of reaching my time goal, I needed to start fast-for-me and maintain it throughout the whole race. I held it for the first mile. So far, so good. During the second mile, I started seeing the super-fast runners on the way back–that’s always a bit demoralizing, but I focused on looking for B. He’s capable of a sub-30 minute 5K, but without his dad to pace him and motivate him, he faced something of a challenge. When I passed him going the other way, though, he was running hard and looked strong. I guessed he was three or four minutes ahead of me, but I couldn’t really gauge how close either of us was to our goals. We high-fived and kept going.
I made the turnaround knowing the next half-mile would be the toughest stretch because I couldn’t afford to slow down. A couple of small hills that don’t seem like much could be the difference for me, time-wise. I skipped the water stop both coming and going for the same reason.
The third mile was pretty flat. By now I knew I had success in my sights, and I just kept visualizing the finish line’s race clock, the subsequent fist pump of achievement. I kicked it up a notch. Around the curve, under the highway, back on the muddy trail. I spotted B standing off to the side. I high-fived him on the run, and then I saw the race clock.
I finished with a PR of more than three minutes, beating my ambitious goal by more than a minute. And B met his sub-30 minute goal by about 30 seconds. He even placed third in his age group!
I know his 29:xx finish is just barely adequate for a lot of runners, let alone my 34-minute one. But we think our performances were pretty outstanding.
Next week: the Capitol 10K. Can we PR that race too?