Sunday, April 20, 2008

Zippy 5K

20th place in 15:34.
Splits: 4:50, 10:00 (5:10), 15:04 (5:04)

I wasn't sure what to expect out of this race for many different reasons. Since coming back from my last injury I've had a hard time gaging my fitness and one thing I wanted to get out of this was a better sense of where I stand. Obviously I didn't have any race sharpness, I haven't done any fast workouts in a long time and considering that my last race was a half marathon I had to convince myself that this race would perhaps feel uncomfortably fast. I hadn't seen the course before the race but it was a fairly simple loop in Golden Gate Park. We started in front of the conservatory of flowers, went out for about a mile along JKF Dr, looped around Stow Lake and headed back along JFK again. I can't say that the course was particularly hilly but it didn't seem that fast either. The first mile was a gradual incline (and obviously the last mile was a gradual decline), and there were a couple of short, steeper hills on the second mile. Looking at past results it seemed like the race was won each year in some time in the 14:40s-14:50s by guys who have track PRs in the low 14s. With all these in mind, I was content with finishing somewhere in the mid 15s. Before the race I was thinking of going out somewhat conservatively, maybe around 5:00 for the first mile, but I once the gun went off my racing instincts took over and I went out with the lead pack. I was expecting the field to be competitive but I was a bit surprised to see around 15 guys in the lead group. The early pace didn't feel too fast and aerobically at least I was feeling fairly comfortable. I was still in the lead group coming through the mile in 4:50 but got gapped right after. I wasn't really focused and aggressive enough to make an effort to stay close. As soon as the gap developed my legs started feeling a bit tired and I could tell that I had slowed down a lot. Going into the 3rd mile I made an effort to pick up the pace, trying to take advantage of the gradual downhill part. I had a hard time getting my legs moving much faster, though, and was only marginally faster than the 2nd mile. I lost a few more places in the last mile, which is not something I'm used to. The low point of my race was getting passed by a guy in long shorts and a wife beater but despite feeling the need to pass him for pride reasons I simply couldn't react. I had a decent kick in the last 200m, trying to run down one guy and coming really close but he managed to summon enough kick to hold me off. I wasn't too excited at the finish, looking at how many people beat me, but after thinking about it for a while I was satisfied with the outcome. There were definitely a lot of things I could do better from a racing standpoint but I know that it takes a few races to get the mental part right. I could have probably run faster if I had gone out closer to 5:00 for the first mile but I can't blame myself for getting a bit too aggressive. Finishing in 20th place was kind of tough to swallow, even though the field was pretty competitive, but I guess getting a good ass-kicking every now and then is good motivation to keep training hard.

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