Thursday, December 19, 2013

PRs All Around: Jingle Bell Jog 5K Recap

At the start line.
This past Saturday, my bride and I ran in a local 5K - the Jingle Bell Jog, and neither of us knew really what to expect. We were two weeks removed from running the Secret City Half Marathon relay, I was in wrapping up week 1 of marathon training, and the weather was ... well, let's just say it wasn't ideal. (At least it wasn't according to my bride.)

It was a cold and rainy day.

The temp was in the mid-30s, but there was a light rain when we showed up to pick up our bib. As if being wet wasn't bad enough, the slight breeze was chilling as we waited for the start.

Fortunately, the rain stopped just prior to start and stayed away for much of the race.

Even with good weather, I highly doubt my bride and I would have intentionally shot for PRs. I was just beginning marathon training and focused on that, and she had not had much opportunity to run in the two weeks prior since we ran the half marathon relay. Work and life has been busy for us.

So, we just lined up to see what we could do. We solely wanted to run a good race. That's it.

Me making the turn for the second loop
My hope was to hold a pace around 8:45/mile for much of the race, and as I got closer to the finish, speed up if I was close to my PR of 26:34. The course was very favorable for a PR, especially since this is where I set my 5K PR back in May of 2011. (I do not run 5Ks very often. I'm not a speed merchant, and I prefer the longer distances. This is only my third 5K since I PR'ed.) The course is essentially a double loop around the local high school grounds, ending on the high-school track.

And it's flat. Well, flat for southeastern Kentucky. Only 54 feet of elevation gain. That's it.

As I lined up at the start line, I made the conscious decision to run my race and not allow those around me to 'trick' me into speeding up. This was a constant battle throughout the race for me, but I am happy to say I stuck to the plan ... until the final 0.1 of the race.

After the horn sounded to begin the race, a pack of 15-20 sprinted off. There were a number of speedsters (aka people much faster than me) in this race as well as some high schoolers. As tempting it was to try to show some of the high schoolers what an old fart could do, I fought the urge and stuck to my plan.

My bride getting ready to cross the finish line. And yes,
that is me behind her taking photos.
Mile 1 was a bit fast for me, finishing it in 8:21. Feeling like I was pushing it a bit - given the fact I had done a 6-mile tempo run the day before, I pulled back a little on Mile 2 but cranked out an 8:45 split.

Knowing I was in the home stretch, I began to steadily increase my speed. A PR was in sight for me on this day. The race concludes with nearly a full lap on the track. My goal was to hit the track around the 24-minute mark, knowing I could crank out a sub-2-minute time around the track to get the PR.

I finished Mile 3 in 8:34, and then sprinted to the line. Seeing the clock at the finish line, I knew I had the PR easily in hand. Still, I sprinted finishing the final 0.1 at a 5:40/mile pace for a time of 26:14 and a 20-second PR.

Immediately after finishing, I reset my Garmin to begin a cool down run as I started to run the course backward to catch up with my bride and help her to the finish. Not going to lie, I was surprised when I found her so fast, about a half mile from the finish.

Finding her so quickly, I knew she was going to PR, big time! Just did not know by how much.

Genople was looking strong and I just ran alongside to help her maintain her pace. We hit the track and she steadily picked up speed, finishing the race strong and nabbing a PR of 34:57! Taking 2:21 off her time!

My bride and I with some of her co-workers after the race.
I loved her reaction when later that day I asked her if she knew what her average pace was. For a person who a 12-minute mile is fast, my bride guessed 11:50/mile.

"Nope," I said. "Try 11:17 per mile."

She was surprised, but I wasn't. Genople has become such a strong runner, and really showed it in this race and in the half marathon relay.

I was surprised when I found out I finished 15th overall. Remember those high schoolers that sprinted out at the start? I caught a couple of them. ... hehe ... I also took 3rd in my age group. At first, I thought I could've placed better in my AG, but then I saw that the first- and second-place finishers in my AG crossed the line in the top 4 of the race and in under 20:30.

My bride was fifth in her AG and 50th overall.

For a race we had no expectations for, turns out we did pretty well.

And once again, this race confirmed how much I love running, especially with my bride. It's awesome to share a passion with those you love.

Happy running!

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