Short report: 30:26 finish time (9:49 min/mile pace) for a 5K PR by over a minute.
Long report: Got up early and headed over to snag some parking for the So Others Might Eat 5K in West Potomac Park in Washington, DC, about 5 miles from our place. It was a simple out-and-back on Ohio Drive running along the Potomac River, with one small hill in the first and last kilometer over the channel into the Tidal Basin.
I checked in, picked up my sort of ugly turkey shirt, and dropped it back in the minivan. We got numbers, which were just numbers, no tear-off strip at the bottom like most bib numbers. I noted with approval that the distance was marked in km, which does make it a little easier to pace than every mile. The weather was cool, but not cold, about 40*F, some drizzle, and there was little wind.
We all gathered at the start line just before 8:30. There was a clock at the line, but there didn't seem to be any preparations for finishing corrals. Hmm, it had said on the website that results would be posted....
The organizers said a few words about their principal mission, feeding the homeless of the Washington, DC area. Then the horn sounded and we were off. I settled into a brisk but reasonably comfortable pace. I knew I had a chance for a PR on such a flat course, and that I needed to run at 6:20 per km or better to stay on a PR pace.
Kilometer 1: 6:10, even including the first little hill. Check the heart rate meter - less than 170. Maybe I'm being too conservative? Kick it up just a notch.
Kilometer 2: 5:51. Run the straight lines through the curves, even though everyone else is following the road. This is starting to feel hard. My breathing is 2:2, fairly high effort level. Uh, yeah, heart rate meter is in the high 170s now.
Kilometer 3: 6:26: The roadway is crowded since we're now in one lane, with the returning runners coming back in the other direction. Gack, they let a truck in the opposite lane, and those fast runners look very annoyed. The water stop was right at the turnaround, with a lot of congestion around it. It was hard to get all the way to the turn point marked on the pavement without running into runners cutting the corner a bit short.
Kilometer 4: 5:58. Keep up the intensity on the way back. Concentrate on breathing. Damn, that heart rate meter is way too high! 183. Back off just until you're a little more comfortable, but keep it up.
Kilometer 5: Getting tired in the home stretch - keep up the tempo back up and down that hill again! Cross the finish line with 6:01 for the last km, 30:26 total time for a personal record a minute better than my fastest 5K of this decade, from 11 months ago. No one seems to be recording times at the finish line. I guess this is just a "fun run". Oh well.
My average heart rate for the run was 175, which is as high as I've seen it for any race. Strong overall effort! Using a more consistent pace on a flat course on a cold day I could probably break that magical 30-minute barrier, but not today! Still, it was my first race that averaged under 10 minutes per mile (9:49 min/mile). Yay!
They had leftover Halloween cookies (stale) and candy after the finish line. Pretty lame. I won't be coming to this race again! But I always like the flat courses in this park - lots of races are run here every year. I'll just go to the ones that are organized by runners and not by fundraising charities! Even if they have a good charity cause, they can still put on a better-quality race.