Saturday, January 22, 2011

Run Downtown 5k

After not doing any road races in 15 months and not running a 5k in 18 months, I registered for the Greenville "Run Downtown 5k", which is part of the corporate running competition around town. And I can definitely say I enjoyed myself and am very glad my lunch running buddies talked me into running the race.

My training has been very sub-par since the Bear 100 in September, with only 12 total miles of speedwork (yes, 12 miles in 4 months) and no weekly mileage above 60 until the past few weeks. Needless to say, I was not expecting much, hoping to be 17:30 but thinking 18 was more likely. It's a big race (2000 people) with a fair amount of competition.

The morning dawned cold, about 30 degrees, overcast, and breezy. After a long warmup, I stripped to my brand new GE singlet, green shorts, arm warmers, gloves, and hat. Most racers wore more, but a few wore less. I was appropriately cold for a 5k. The race started with a short downhill, then a gradual, 100 ft elevation climb to the 1 mile marker. I was simply happy to be running fast the first mile, and found myself just behind the chase pack at the 1 mile mark at 5:37. I was working hard, but breathing was relaxed. Mile 2 was almost all downhill, which I loved. I pushed the pace, and began passing several runners, including GE teammate Phil and the Chick-fil-a cow (the cow was a guy wearing a giant cow outfit- he had a 3 minute head start, and anyone who beat him won a free Chick-fil-a sandwich. He finished in 19:32 race time (22:32 his time)- not bad at all). Mile 2 was 5:26, and I started to believe that my legs had enough speed to carry me to a decent finish time.

Mile 3 starts off with a 70 ft climb in .3 mile, then a gradual downhill to the finish. I had 2 runners ahead of me, one of whom was slowing. I focused on him, pulling him closer with each stride. I caught him with maybe 400 meters to go and was surprised to see the other runner just a few meters ahead. I pulled even with him, trying to determine who had more in the tank. I made a move, which he failed to match at first, but then accelerated. My legs were churning as fast as I could the last 200 meters and my head began to float around the street due to lack of oxygen. I'm not sure I had ever felt so close to passing out during a sprint. With one final push, I passed the finish line at 16:58, 2 strides ahead of the runner behind me. Final 1.1 mile in 5:55 (5:22 pace- including the 70 ft climb).

Officially, the timing chip somehow put me at 17:00 and says the runner behind me out-chipped me, placing me in 15th. Oh well- but I'm still claiming the 16:58, since my watch time was exact for me. 11 of the 14 runners ahead of me were young bucks- age 15 to 24. Those guys rock at 5k's. I was exhausted at the finish (like you should be for a 5k), but recovered within 30 seconds to start running around cheering for people. After some cheering and congratulations among the large GE contingent, and a few cool down miles with Barry, I called it a day. And I'll admit, after so many ultras, it was strange to be gone only 2.5 hours for a race.

I really enjoyed this fast race- it seemed to have a lot more downhill than up, even though it was a loop, and was just hilly enough to break up the monotony of running pavement. Plus, there was a steady stream of runners to keep up the challenge- I never felt like I was in no-man's land. I am happy to be within 25 seconds of my PR with low mileage and no speedwork, and enjoyed passing runners the last 2 miles (I think I passed 8-10, while none passed me), and finally had a good kick. I've committed to at least one more corporate race, an off-road 6k cross country race. Should be fun. Then, back to the longer trail races.


  1. Good work Jon- bet those young'ins haven't run a 100 miler. You should invite them to :-)

  2. Impressive time Jon. It's nice when you can catch people and not get passed by anyone.

  3. Your reports always make good reading. Congrats on a super race, Jon!

  4. Great race, Jon! I'm glad you enjoyed a short, road race, even though you prefer trails.

  5. Impressive time especially considering your preparation. Glad you didn't pass out at the finish. It's funny how we runners can go from nearly passing out mode to prancing around cheering for others in a matter of seconds. Good ol' aerobic fitness!