A few weeks ago, I decided to start the New Year off with a 5k race that I had done 2 years ago. The main reason was that I knew my wife and two kids would be away in Pittsburgh visiting my in-laws and I wanted something to do. On a side note, I usually go with them, but since I started a new job this past July, I couldn’t get time off this year. I don’t typically get too excited about a short race like a 5k, but finding out a little over a week ago that I was chosen to represent my favorite brand, Pearl Izumi, for 2016 made it a little more exciting.
I have been running a lot lately at lunch with a good friend that I made at work, Zach Miller. Zach is a running stud! His 5k PR is somwhere under 15 minutes. He’s been helping me a lot to work on increasing my speed and it’s been paying off. Because of the work I’ve been putting in and because I figured the course would be pretty flat (it’s by an airport), I wanted to go for a PR at this race (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t very flat). I thought it would be a good way to start the year. I’ve only broken 20 minutes twice and my fastest time was 19:50.
Having UC, I tend to be very careful with what I eat the night before a race. Putting the wrong thing in my body could be devastating to my race. So, I decided to stop at Wawa and get a turkey and cheese hoagie. Hoagie’s are usually a safe bet for me. Unfortunately, I have been battling a bit of a flare since October. I seem to have come to the conclusion that the flu shot is causing this since I have had a flare every October for the last three years and that’s always when I get the shot. Because of the flare, I have had to use some additional medication which is a lovely suppository. Well, I woke up this morning and my stomach was not feeling so great. I ended up using the bathroom five times before leaving the house, and also stopped at Walmart on the way. When I got to the race, I remembered that the bathroom inside the brewery where it was located was small with only one stall. I went ahead and utilized it to make for my seventh trip of the day and I hoped that would be the last before the race since I knew the line would get long. I went for a one mile warm up run and luckily my stomach held out. It was time to head to the start line.
The start of the race was downhill, so it was a pretty fast start. There was a guy running with a Siberian Husky and had the leash tied to his waste. He took off and opened up a pretty good lead on everyone. However, his race would later be derailed when the Husky stopped to go to the bathroom on someone’s yard and he struggled to clean it up. Maybe that dog ate the same thing I did….I looked at my watch a few times and my pace was at about 5:45 which I knew I probably couldn’t maintain. This was an out and back course and it was quite chilly and windy. The entire first half was a slight downhill. I spent most of the first half running with a guy named David, who I knew was in my age group and pretty fast, and a woman named Lorraine. Lorraine works at the local running store and is in her 50’s. She’s an excellent track runner and told me she is training for the Master’s Track World Championships in Australia in October. At the turnaround, I realized that most of the first half was downhill which meant the second half was going to be uphill. In almost every 5k that I have run, around the two mile mark I start to get a burning feeling in my stomach that slows me down a bit. Like clockwork, it happened again. I was also starting to struggle with my breathing. I think it was a combination of the cold weather, wind, and being slightly congested. David must have been starting to feel it as well, since Lorraine and I started to pull away from him a bit. I didn’t look at my watch too much, but knew I was going to be close to pulling off the PR. At around the three mile mark, the road took a slight turn and then there was a downhill to the finish line. At some point, I was able to see the clock and it read 19:35. I knew I would need to push it to get under 19:50. I typically have a pretty good kick at the end of races. It must be from all those years playing soccer and sprinting after the ball. I was able to run the last .1 mile at a 5:09 pace and crossed the finish line in 19:49. Just one second under my previous best time, but hey I’ll take it. I ended up finishing tenth overall and third in my age group.
Overall, I was very pleased with how everything went. Despite my pre-race issues, I was still able to accomplish my goal. I’m hoping that at some point I can figure out the whole burning issue with my stomach.
So far, I just have two races on my calendar. The Chilly Cheeks 11k Trail Race on January 24th and The Hyner View Challenge 25k in April. I will need to get the rest of my year planned out soon. I’m looking forward to a 10 mile trail run with my friend Dan in the Wissahickon tomorrow morning.