EDIT: I just got an email full of race photos. And, unusually, I was able to download them, because they used a really simple URL scheme. Unfortunately there was no obvious way to access high-resolution shots, or even properly downsampled ones. I guess if they can't properly code a locked-down image gallery there's no hope for correct image processing. At any rate, the scheme was easy enough that I was able to check out photos of the guy that finished ahead of me, and I liked one of those quite a lot. In this shot, #1358 is clearly sweating at the prospect of my mighty kick (I am the dude back in the distance). He overcame his worry to beat me by 5 seconds. Until next time, #1358!
Eventually someone has to write a race report and bump Kori off the top of the page... and as bad as I feel to do it, running for less than 1/30th the time she did, and in perfect weather on a basically-flat course, I guess I can at least say my run was a total contrast to her run. Short and easy, all about speed.
So my race for the weekend was the Pumpkins in the Park 5k, down in Lincoln Park (the part of the park Lincoln Park that's in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park... I don't think they played any songs by the band Linkin Park at the race, but I wouldn't have recognized them if they did). I was supposed to train through this race, but wound up having a crappy week of training that turned out something like a taper. The race had a 4pm start, and after the intense heat for the marathon last weekend and the cold weather and high winds that followed just a few days later, the temperature rose up to a perfect one for running, with pleasantly normal humidity and no discernible wind for my race.
So the race. Looking at past results it looked to be the fastest field I'd faced in a long time (probably since the Monterey Bay Half Marathon last November), but that says more about my sparse racing schedule than the strength of the field. There looked to be a few guys under 16 minutes in the field, and a few between 16 and 17. At first I felt that despite all my struggles in my last 5k (16:57) that I wouldn't be able to cut more than 20 seconds off; then I looked at what I'd have to do to run even splits and realized that I could run exactly the same through the first 2 miles and still run 16:30. So I set 16:30 as my goal for today. At the starting line I lined up in the second row, figuring that that the front row would consist of the sub-16 guys and the inevitable "unintentional rabbits", well-intentioned runners that would run their mile PR for the first mile and then drop like rocks into the midpack (I have been there, and it's no fun). That worked out just great. The early fast pack was about seven very polite runners; the two sub-sixteeners and one guy chasing them separated themselves early and a few of the rest of us stuck together through the first mile, coming through around 5:10. They all turned out to be rabbit-types, and I never so much as heard their footsteps much after the first mile. So I focused on the dude in blue 40 meters in front of me. He may have gained a bit of ground through the uneventful second mile, which I finished around 10:25. The third mile had more turns and a few short hills as we crossed under and over bridges in the park; I knew I was slower for that mile, but I was pleased with my 15:46 split. It wasn't great but indicated that I at least kept focus and form. And I made up ground on the guy in front of me.
Then there's that last tenth of a mile. It took me somewhere just over 40 seconds to run it (I don't have an exact finishing time yet, unfortunately... usually chip-timed races get the results up fast but this one didn't; I finished a bit under 16:30, at any rate), which is way too slow for a tenth of a mile. Just like the last race. But after the race I figured it out: I've been thinking about the last tenth all wrong. A 5k is not exactly 3.1 miles, it's exactly 5000m. A mile is about 1609m, leaving 173m for that "last tenth", not 160.9. And I'm guessing they probably didn't measure real miles out on the course, but 1600m increments. Which would make the "last tenth" a full 200m. Over 40 seconds is not a glorious final 200m kick (in fact, it's more of a fade than anything), but I certainly didn't feel like I put on much of a kick, so it's at least believable.
So I ran my goal for today, and have now less than 10 seconds to cut in a few weeks! If I have another race with perfect conditions like today's that should be doable; without perfect conditions it still might happen if I really get some good training in. So I'll be sure to do that. 16:20, here I come! I have to run basically the same through the first mile, a bit faster in the second mile and early part of the third, and then I have to get a killer instinct in the last half mile, like I had in track in high school. If I can be 5 seconds faster over the middle, I can make up 5 more by making a legitimate move with a half mile to go. I've done it before. Time to do it again. Yeah! It's so much fun being actually fast again... although according to this calculator even if I run my ultimate goal of 16:20, at age 23, that's less impressive by 1.5 WAVA points or so than my 15:48 3-mile at 17 and by 3.5 points than my 9:52 2-mile at 18 (I've always felt that was by far the best race I ever ran, and the numbers seem to agree). And also, according to that site, my 35:18 10k last spring was pathetic, and I should be able to run close to 34 minutes. And, if I train for longer stuff, 1:15 in the half, and 2:39 for the marathon. Maybe I'm not really the long-distance guy I thought I was, because my short-distance times look lots better than my long-distance ones.
Oh, yeah, and with my 4th-place finish I missed a prize by one spot. Streak broken. If I had an amazing kick I'd have picked off third place. Time to go get an amazing kick.