St. Patrick's Day 8K - Run8k

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Washington, D.C., Washington, D.C.
United States
Capital Running Company
41F / 5C
Total Time = 29m 15s
Overall Rank = 54/3782
Age Group = M45-49
Age Group Rank = 3/170
Pre-race routine:

This was my 'comeback' race, and I was not sure what to expect. Last year I put everything into training for an October marathon, and went into it knowing that I would come away injured and unable to run for a while. I then took 3 months off running, and started up again at the end of January, building mileage very gradually and doing only steady running. I hit 30 mpw for the first time this week, and I'm only just starting to feel like I'm really running again. I'm still pretty nervous about the achilles injury flaring up at any time. I have a couple of multisport events coming up in the next month, so I entered for the St Patrick's Day 8k as a way of gauging how I hold up in a race. It's the first big spring race in the DC running calendar, on a fast and flat course that starts near the White House and follows some of the well known streets in the city (Pennsylvania Ave., Independence Ave.), crossing the National Mall a couple of times. Last year I surprised myself by running 29:04; I thought that there was no way that I would come close to that given my lack of running in recent months. My expected time was 30-32 minutes, anticipating around 31 minutes.
Event warmup:

Up early. First day of daylight savings made it even earlier. Ugh. Realized that I needed to get a move on to make it to the metro in time, so I ran the mile to the metro station. That got me warmed up a bit. Once downtown, I tried to keep warm by jogging around, but I felt kind of sluggish. Oddly enough, though, after stripping down to my race gear and dropping my bag at the gear check I suddenly felt really ready to go.
  • 29m 15s
  • 4.97 miles
  • 05m 53s  min/mile

I started off conservatively for the first mile, which is almost entirely straight down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. I've learned that I fare better when I deliberately hold back at the start; I tend to find myself going plenty fast enough anyways, and it leaves me able to run more aggressively later in the race, rather than simply hanging on for dear life. First mile in 5:49 was faster than expected. I felt good, but felt sure that I had gone out too hard. As we ran up a slight rise towards Union Station I was happy that I still had the mental presence to do some calculations in my head, but figured that there was no way that I'd maintain a sub-6 average. I held steady through mile 2 in 6:02. I still felt good, but thought that I was at the start of an inevitable slide in pace.

This was my first race since joining the 45-49 AG -- I can't hang with those 40-year old kids any more -- so at the various turn-arounds on the course I was looking out for others who might be in the same AG. I noticed a couple of candidates. I spent mile 3 chasing down one guy who I figured was probably a little older than me. It was useful to have him there, and also useful that I didn't realize that he was 56 years old, as then I might not have bothered. Mile 3 was 5:55 on my watch, and faster than that on the course markers. Either way, I was holding up better than expected, and was in danger of coming quite close to 30:00, which was my stretch goal for the race. I did my best to hold on through the 4th mile, which mostly covers an out-and-back next to the Air & Space Museum before crossing the National Mall back to Pennsylvania Ave. 5:52 for that mile. At this point I was feeling (a) ready to be done, and (b) excited that I might really crack 30.

The last mile is essentially a straight shot down Pennsylvania Ave, from 3rd to 13th St., with an evil extra out-and-back loop shortly before the finish. You can see the finish line in the distance from a long way off, but it takes a long while to get larger. I simply tried to relax and hold my form, while slowly counting up the street numbers. I was really surprised to cross the finish line in 29:15, barely 10 seconds slower than last year (5:46 pace for the last mile), and faster than I had imagined possible.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. Everything in the race went better than expected.
Post race
Warm down:

I was just as excited that I was able to comfortably jog around afterwards, not feeling injured. No guarantee that it will remain that way, but an encouraging first sign. I gathered up my things and headed out to watch my friends Akira and Elise finish, and then hung out with them while waiting for the awards - I got a tiny fleece towel, which didn't seem worth the wait, actually. But it was the time that mattered, and that was far better than I would have imagined, so I was pretty darn pleased. I missed 2nd in the AG by just few seconds, but was 2 minutes behind the winner, so no hope there. It's a guy who I remember racing a couple of times last year and thinking "I'm glad that he's in the next AG up from me" -- so much for avoiding the young 'uns. The first woman was also 2 minutes ahead of me, Claire Hallissey, a fellow Brit who lives in DC, and who was on the UK Olympic team last year. 25 seconds per mile behind Claire seems pretty good to me -- I'd be thrilled to finish just 10-12 minutes behind her in a marathon, though I somehow don't expect that to happen anytime soon.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of running. 3 month layoff due to achilles injury, just a few weeks of steady running in the legs, though lots of bike miles as support.

Event comments:

It's a good race for an early season test. The St Patrick's Day trappings make for a little extra fun, as does the crowd of 4000 runners that shows up. But it's not so much a great target race as a solid offering for folks looking to put down a good time.

Last updated: 2013-03-10 12:00 AM
00:29:15 | 04.97 miles | 05m 53s  min/mile
Age Group: 3/170
Overall: 54/3782
Performance: Good
Course: Fast, flat course around wide streets of downtown Washington DC, mostly between White House and Capitol.
Keeping cool Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 4