Saturday morning I ran another 5K. Last year I finished 27th (or so) with a time of 21:08, and I was really hoping to drop time this race. My goal of 20 minutes would have only gained me about 5 places overall, but I'm not really racing against "them" right now: it's all a race against myself.
I was running late getting there, but I still managed about a mile or a little more of a warm-up, and was ready when the race started. Last year's start seemed to be really sudden; the race director was talking, then, BOOM, the race was on. This year we were prepared for that, but it started like most races start.
I went out feeling like I wasn't pushing too hard; when I run work-outs (and even in practice 5K runs) I feel like I'm always really pushing hard, even when my time doesn't reflect it.
The course was pretty simple: straight down the street to a bike path: follow the bike path to a turn-around (through a neighborhood - this was a very well-run race, with people at every intersection directing traffic: both runner and automobile), then back on the bike path to the same street. So a glorified out-and-back path.
I was shocked to hit the 1 mile mark at 6:14 because I hadn't felt like I was going out so fast. By this time, the pack had thinned out (and the leaders were so far ahead that it wasn't even funny), but I still had some runners to pick off.
Most notably was one guy I know: I'd never beaten him, and he was out in front of me, but not too far ahead. I decided that I wouldn't let him get away.
By the turn around, I'd caught him, but he wasn't giving up without a fight. We ran together pretty much the entire rest of the race; I would get some ground on him on hills (both up and down), but he would come back. In fact, on the last 1/2 up the street, he started turning it on and got some ground on me.
Second mile was in the mid 6:30s, at which point I realized that if I ran a mentally strong race, I could possibly come close to my goal time of 20 minutes flat. I'd set this as my goal for the Millersport Sweet Corn Festival race (in early September), but if I could hit it now, that would be awesome!
I worked hard on the final 1/2, which was a slightly uphill grade, and barely missed my target time: I finished in 20:08, which was a (post-high school) P.R. for me.
I was 2nd in my age group, and I'm not sure of my overall place, but neither of that was what was important: what was important was what I proved to myself: that a sub-20 minute 5K (meaning a drop of over 42 seconds off my P.R.) could be a reality this summer.