Training and strategy:
Pretty strong overall. I topped 50 miles 2 weeks ago and set an unofficial PR in an indoor 10K time trial (41:14) this week and seemed primed for another PR this time. I had a new race strategy as well. In the past, I had aimed for around 6:00 for the first mile then tried to hang on. That's a little fast for a goal in the low 19s but not terribly so unless you look closer. I was usually out at 85 seconds for the first 1/4 mile, and most of that came in the first 200 (about 40 seconds). 85 seconds for a 1/4 mile projects to around 17:30 for a full 5K. That is WAY too fast. Yes, I got to the mile marker around 6-flat but by then, my pace at the mile marker itself had slipped to 6:15-6:20. Then, I could hang on and scrape out a couple of 6:3x miles and with a decent kick, finish in the 19:40s or 50s. Today, the plan was to go out no faster than 90 in the first 1/4 mile and shoot for 6:10-6:15 for the first mile. I just wanted to maintain it in the 2nd mile then make the last mile the fastest, just like my 10K time trial.
On the medical front, I am trying to wean off the Lithium (I'm hyperthyroid not bi-polar) and had taken too much the day before. I could only hope that the excess would clear my system by race time. I woke up in the morning feeling pretty well but not my best and headed to Vestavia HS for some strides, which I ran fairly fast with relative ease so I decided to give it a shot.
The gun went off and I was holding back as planned then about 200 meters into the race, we hit a decent downhill for about a 100 which increased my pace significantly. Once again, I hit the 1/4 mile in 85 seconds but this time, it was probably appropriate. We then turned into a construction zone before hitting Lakeshore trail, my most common training ground. I was about 3:05 for the half mile so I had slowed enough and from here, it was pretty much all out to the line. I passed at least 2 before the end of the first mile (a near perfect 6:10) and traded places a couple of time with the female leader. Throughout the 2nd mile, which was mostly flat, my effort was hard but I still felt reasonably well and each time, I checked my Garmin, it showed that I was holding the pace pretty well. I passed another 2 guys and the female leader was well within my sights, maybe 5 seconds ahead at the most and I knew that I could out kick her if I stayed within that range. I completed the mile in 6:20 for a 12:30 split and just over 13 with a mile to go. Now, even a brutal fade to 6:50 would still bring me home under 20 but I wanted more this time. If I could simply repeat that 6:20 and kick home hard, I would have a shot at my post-HS PR of 19:27. Unfortunately, most of the next .6 or so was slightly uphill with one or two short downhills to break it up. We went up another small hill then turned off Lakeshore and headed up another small hill. That one broke me and by the time the course went back gently downhill, it was too late. My energy had been spent and the lead female was pulling away from me. I battled hard late in the 3rd mile but my legs were simply shot. Finally, I hit the marker in 19:05 for a disappointing 6:35 split. I would finish well under 20 and turned in a decent finishing kick. There is some question about my final time. According to the results, I was 19:28 but my watch showed 19:40. In any event, it is not a PR but it is my best time of the year and a top 5 performance all time. I congratulated the female winner and thanked the RD for putting on a good and enjoyable race. I finished 7th overall and 1st in my age group.
I ran that 19:27 just over a year ago and since then I've broken 20 in 4 out of my next 5 attempts but have not approached my PR. Today was another good try but once again, I fell short. Again, because of the Lithium issue, I felt like I was operating just a hair below peak efficiency but I'm not using that as an excuse. In my defense, the temp was near 80 with sunny skies and close to 90% humidity. If it had been 20 degrees cooler, I'll bet that I would have been 15-30 seconds faster and well within PR range. My coach agrees. I will definitely try again before the year is over and am leaning towards the Maple Leaf 5K, Hueytown, or a race at a small airport, which should be pancake flat. My grade on the day is a B+.