We're running a small 5k this Saturday. It's flat, I'm in shape, and I'm going for it.
For over a month now, I've been running well. My bread-and-butter workout has been 3 2-mile grade pyramids. My times have gotten faster abd faster and, perhaps more importantly, I've lost weight. I'm down to 64-65kg, which is low for me.
I'm going for a PR that, at 10 years, is almost as old as my daughter, Natali. My 5K PR of 15:57 was set in the spring of 2001 at the opening track meet of the season. I was in decent shape and was lucky enough to find myself in a race with a guy, who was a little stronger than me. back then, I had a very good kick and basically always raced the same way: draft, draft, draft, kick. That early spring night, the 5000 was the last race of the night, and we raced under the lights, which was the first time for me.
I don't remember anything about the other runners, but this one guy ran just slightly faster than me. There was a fairly strong headwind down the home straight, so I was able to tuck in behind him and relax a little. But on every back straight, it was a battle to hold on, as the advantage of drafting disappeared. I drafted off him until one lap to go and then kicked on the last lap. That night was far from the fastest I have ever felt, but I have never been in such a favorable race and been in good shape at the same time since.
I remember thinking that if I could run sub-16 in March, I should be able to run mid-15s in June. But then came med school finals and a long summer of brats and burges in Northern Wisconsin and subsequent weight gain.
In 2007, I ran low-16s in a race with good competition, but didn't have the speed.
In 2008, I ran two 16:20s in small road races without competition.
In 2009, I ran 16:09 on a night that should have been a PR, but a big storm came in and ruined it.
Now it's 2012 and I'm in shape. I'm fired up, I know the route and have been visualizing the race all week. I'm so used to running marathons and ultras, i've gotten used to running without pain. Well, there's definitely pain in ultras, but it's a different kind of pain; a more predictable, less scary kind of pain. Hopefully, on Saturday, I'll be able to start out fast. Hopefully with a 5-minute mile. I'll expect the feeling of lactic acid building up in my legs and arms. I used to know that feeling well, but it's been a while now. At this point, I'm unable to speed up or slow down much. I lose my sense of how fast I am going and I tend to lose interest in the race. I look forward to being done and stop caring about the time. Surprisingly, those second, heavy-limbed miles are not as slow as they feel and typically I am able to wake up a little and speed up toward the end.
Wow, it's been a while since I was this excited about a race. If only this big storm everyone is talking about drops rain and not snow...