The RDT 5k last year was my first road race in over a year and first 5k in 18 months, and I was happy with my 16:58 time. This year, I was just hoping to beat that time. I had a great December, with almost 400 miles, though almost no speedwork (only 54 miles total speedwork since the start of October). But January was rough, with some niggles and a nasty cold. I felt recovered for the race, and wanted to try hard. It has been rainy the past few days, and this morning was no exception. 30 min before the race, it was pouring. Fortunately the rain stopped shortly before the start and the weather ended up perfect- cool 45 deg, slight breeze. It’s a big race with 3000 runners on a moderately hilly course (about 200 ft climbing). I arrived only 15 min ahead of time, ran a few strides, nodded to a few of my GE co-workers, and waited for the start.
I normally start too slow and finish with gas in the tank at 5k’s. I changed it up this time, sprinting hard from the start. I was in about 8th place after a minute. After the long gradual uphill to mile 1 (5:21), I was in about 16th place, 5 second back from a pack of 10. Mile 2 is predominately downhill and I passed a few people (5:20). The last mile has a steep uphill, then some flat and a gradual down to the finish. I passed someone at mile 2 but he hung with me and I could never ditch him- he ended up sprinting past me at the end. Last 1.1 mile was 5:52, with a total time of 16:34. This is a road PR for me by 1 second, and only 10 seconds off my all-time PR, so I was very happy with the results. The GE team did great, too, with 5 runners breaking 17 min, a new record (most previous was 2?).
I think today is good proof that trail runners can still run well in short road races, even with minimal speedwork. I think mileage base is far more important to 5k speed than anything else. Now, that’s not to discount speedwork- race predictor calculators say I should be able to break 16 min for a 5k based on my half marathon speed, and I’m sure I could do that if I trained and tapered specifically for a 5k. But, that’s not my priority, so I’ll just have fun at these short races and do the best I can while focusing on trail ultras. Either way, this was a good start to the year, though it still makes me wonder what kind of time I would have run at Harbison 50k if I weren’t sick. Hopefully I can find out next year. Regardless, this is a great race that is competitive, well organized, and fun. One final note- my 16:58 from last year would have gotten me about 23rd place. So I improved my time by 24 seconds but only 1 spot. And of the 14 who beat me, only 2 were over age 30. Bunch of young bucks!