It’s been so long since I’ve done a real race (October…?) I almost forgot to do this one…
As a part of my lifetime goal to do something physically active on every holiday I have kind of made this race a tradition. The First Night 5K is held in Columbia every December 31st as a part of a larger First Night celebration downtown. It’s kind of a kick off for the festivities and gives people a way to work off some of the guilt before they (over)indulge that evening. The race is unique in that it takes place in the afternoon, starting at 4pm, but aside from that and the odd costume, it’s just your average local race.
If I had to guess I would say there were around 200 people in the race this year. Smaller than last year for a couple of reasons. First, the weather was colder and second, this is a college town and when the Missouri Tigers are playing in a bowl game on the same day and at the same time, you are going to lose a few people. No big deal and still a decent turn out for a 20 degree day!
I got to the race site early to pick up my packet and see MY BIKE FRAME!! It’s sexy… Can’t wait to see the whole bike. The frame is ridonkulously light! Ahh… that new, carbon fiber smell… *sigh*
Anyway… where was I…
Ah! The race… I got my packet and number and then moved my car to my secret parking spot (downtown is hard to find parking in… even with all the parking structures). I spent the next 10 minutes agonizing over what to wear. It was definitely cold, but I knew that I was going to be pushing harder than I usually do so I wanted to dress a little thinner. I had brought nearly everything in my closet with me and finally made the choice to go with a base, wicking shirt, a wicking t-shirt and a shell. I chose my balaclava because my ears were cold on the walk back to the car, as was my neck. I decided to go with my winter tights but skipped the wind pants. This was a good call because my legs got pretty warm in the race. I am currently running in a pair of New Balance 1062s on the roads.
The course this year had to be changed because of some construction on campus, but it is a rolling, out and back route that goes through downtown, campus and then out to the football field parking lot. It’s always fun to run on campus. It’s beautiful and there is a lot to look at to keep your mind off the pain! The detour added a couple of short hills, but nothing major.
As we started to line up, the race director called us forward about a block and a half. The route change meant moving the starting line. This also eliminated my least favorite part of the course. The UPHILL start going up a rough, uneven, brick street! Yay! The only odd part was that we stopped just short of the first corner, so when the gun went off, we ran about 40 feet and then made a right turn. Everybody got through it OK, but it made for a mad dash by the front group to get around the corner without getting clogged up.
I have not trained for, nor have I run a pure sprint race like a 5K in nearly a year. I have been training myself to maintain a slightly faster speed over a longer distance, like a 10K. My greatest fear was getting excited and going out and blowing up in the first mile so my only real goal for htis race was to pace my first mile properly. I decided to try for a 7:15 pace and have a little left over at the end so that I could beat my time from last year of 22:20. I lined up about 3 rows back from the front but by the time the gun went I had somehow managed to get up with the front group. I pretended to be fast for about 100 yards, then backed off. I could tell my legs were still a bit tired from my morning run (7 miles) but I was able to maintain my turnover in the first mile so I stayed on pace. I ran past the mile marker in 7:15. Dead on! I pushed the pace on the downhills and tried to maintain pace on the uphills. I focused on catching the person in front of me and crossed the second mile at 6:59! I could tell I was getting tired so in the last mile I really only pushed the downhills and came across the 3 mile mark at 7:19. The last bit seemed a lot further than a tenth of a mile and when I got to the finish the time read 22:51! What? I knew something had to be wrong and suspected the course was just long. This was confirmed by my Garmin wearing friends who had the course between 3.17 and 3.2. Consensus was about 3.2 miles. This would account for the extra minute (ish) on my time. My average pace was 7:09 and in a 3.1 mile race it would have meant a time of 22:06, which is a 5K PR!
All in all it was a decent way to end the year, but I know I can do better. Not running on tired legs might have helped but I’m not in as good a shape as I know I should be so this was pretty good, considering. No prizes or awards for this race, just a shirt and a fun run. Got to see some friends and chat a bit and then it was off to party!