Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gatorade Steelers 5K RR

Steady mileage between 40-45 with high quality but extremely erratic. My body chemistry is just about as unstable as ever. I know that I am capable of beating my all time PR of 19:13 but I'd need my top form to do it, which seemed unlikely. Just a few days earlier, I hit the wall in a 3 mile junk run at 9:00 pace.
Why did I choose this event in Pittsburgh, PA? I do have family in the area. I may be crazy but I would never drive 12 hours just for a 5K even if it presented the perfect opportunity for a PR (flat course, good competition, cooler weather). The drive really was not too bad. I left work just a little early and made it halfway on Thursday night and stopped at a fleabag motel in Bristol and I don't even know if it was in Virginia or Tennessee. From there, it was a nice scenic ride through SW Virginia and West Virginia (yes, they are 2 different states). I arrived in Pittsburgh by mid-afternoon on Friday and got in a short tempo. I woke up feeling awful the next morning and needed mega doses of Thym-Adren (8 pills) just to feel decent. The race would be a game time decision based purely on the way I felt. Unfortunately, the weather did not look too good either. It felt more like Alabama than Pennsylvania. The high temp the previous day was over 90 and the forecast at race time was temps in the upper 70s with 80% humidity. At least it was overcast. I did not feel too bad on race morning and got by with only 5 pills. The race was a go but expectations were running pretty low. I predicted a time well over 20 minutes.
Interesting course to say the least. It began down by the river walk and briefly on a dirt trail with tree coverings before turning back on the main road back towards Heinz Field for a finish inside the stadium. My only gripe was that the river walk was narrow in spots, which made for a lot of congestion in the first half. This time, I was pretty smart about pacing early. I was in the 5:50s for most of the first mile but my pace started to slip after we went into the wooded area and we also went under an overpass for several seconds. My first mile according to the watch was 6:10 but I'm sure that it was actually faster than that. Normally in a 5K, I can hold the pace well through the first 2K, then I start to fade. This time, however, the fade was not as bad as previous races. The course was basically level with just a few mild inclines. We came down one around 1.5 miles as I came through the halfway point around 9:40 (watch time). Looking like another race in the 19:40-20:00 range. Coming up a small hill, I passed the 2 mile marker with a clock time of 12:25. I figured that the chip was under 12:20 but the Mile marker appeared to be short (1.95). My watch clicked the 2 Mile mark at 12:32 for a 6:22 split. Okay, just survive this 3rd mile around 6:30, finish strong and you've got a best of the year. As the time ticked away, I became pessimistic as my pace slowly faded to the low 6:30s. Sub-20 was in the bag and I still had a chance to beat the 19:45 that I ran 2 weeks earlier but more than anything else, I just wanted it to be over. I started my kick with about a quarter mile to go and we made the turn for the stadium. I passed one runner immediately and set my sights on 2 more. I didn't even see my split at 3 Miles but it was probably just over 19. As I went down the short ramp to the football field, I could see the finish line coming up sooner than expected. I kicked in the turbo when I saw that I had a shot to break 19:27 after all. I breezed by 2 runners sprinting at sub-5 pace down the sidelines. Clock time: 19:27, Chip time: 19:21 (fastest time since '98). My Garmin measured this course at 3.06 and others ranged from 3.06-3.08 but I'm counting it. It's a USATF certified course and perhaps the congestion, trees and the overpass messed with the signal early. The 5K PR drought is over! 8 seconds shy of my all time PR and I know that in 60 degree weather with low humidity, it's mine.
Overall place: 77/2746, Age group: 6/162

If this one had been 10 seconds faster, would it change my attitude on this disease? The answer is no. Even if I can get a great race every once in a while, it still sucks to be chemically unstable. How will I feel tomorrow? How many pills will I have to take? What pills will I have to take? Again, your guess is as good as mine. For the time being, I will bask in the glory and head back to Birmingham tomorrow.
Grade is an A minus.

1 comment:

L.A. Runner said...

Congrats on a great race, Justin!