I took a drive down to Bentley College in Waltham, MA Saturday night to run the 5000m in the first of three New Balance Twilight Series track meets. I really wanted to get some speed into my legs and I figured that this was a good opportunity to run fast since it was on the track, in the evening (I always run faster in the evening) and there was plenty of competition. The weather cooperated as the 90+ degree heat from the day before was replaced with cool, crisp 60 degree air. The wind was not too bad and eventually nearly completely died away by the time the gun went off at 7:10PM.
I was not so sure how I was going to do because I was extremely tired over the last couple days and I skipped a run on Friday afternoon, opting for a nap, and also skipped an early morning run on Saturday in favor of sleeping in. I also had heart burn or acid reflux all day long on Saturday - I should not have eaten fried clams the night before! Anyway, I usually do a 2 mile warm up before a race but decided to run a 3 mile warm up tonight to hopefully loosen things up and get the blood flowing. In the beginning of the warm up my legs felt heavy and my diaphragm felt very tight. By the end of the warm up, though, I started to feel pretty darn good. I stretched out well, did some strides and got ready for the start.
When the gun went off the rabbit took of at 68 seconds/400m pace - way too fast for me at this point. I did not get all of my splits, but I hit the 400m mark in 74 seconds and the 800m mark in 2:31. This is where I made my only (major) mistake in the race. I was unsure of my strength and did not want to blow up in the last mile so I let a group of guys in front of me (Matthew Haringa, Brian Lombardo, Andrew Erwin, Steven Kinney and Kevin Somers) go and I think they hit 800m in about 2:25ish. They opened up a 30m+ lead on me which remained for the rest of the race and I ended up running in no-mans land for most of the race. If I had gone with them in the first mile I probably would not have used up too much energy and I would have finished 5-10 seconds faster (presumably). Oh well, lesson learned. I hit the 1600m split in 5:01.7 and hit 74 second laps with the exception of the second lap. I continued this trend in mile 2 where I hit pretty even 75+ second laps and split 10:04 (5:02.7) for 3200m and passed one or two guys who dropped off the back of the group in front of me. This is when I started to feel confident and I started driving for the finish and to hopefully catch some the the guys in the group ahead of me. I did a pretty good job as I passed 4800m in 15:04 (4:59.6), my quickest mile of the race, and drove home the last 200m in 35 seconds to cross the line in 15:39.49. I came within 3 seconds of catching the back of the group in front of me. Finally, a good race!
I forgot how much I like racing on the track before this race. I am looking forward to doing the other two meets in this series and looking for a couple other smaller meets after that with the hope of getting my 5k time down to 15:20 (or better). Since the Rhody 5k (a NE Grand Prix race) is on June 7th and the second meet is on June 6th I will probably run the 1500m in that meet. I will run the 5000m in the 3rd meet.
I just noticed that it was almost exactly 10 years ago (10 years and 1 month) the last time I raced a 5000m on the track at the 1999 Penn Relays. On 4/22/1999 I ran my PR of 14:32.29, more than a minute faster than this race, as my first race of the spring track season. The scary thing is that I did that race off just mileage, no speed work yet, and my splits were 4:35, 9:15 (4:40), 14:00 (4:45), 14:32 (:32). The next two races I did that season were a 1500m (3:49:01) and 3000m (8:21.07, my PR) before I tore my achilles the following week during a speed workout. That was when I was forced into what I thought was permanent retirement. Memories ....
Photos by Tom Derderian of the GBTC. More can be found here.