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Bitton Summer Series 5k (Race 4) - Run5k

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Bitton, Bristol
United Kingdom
Bitton Road Runners
70F / 21C
Total Time = 17m 34s
Overall Rank = 5/85
Age Group = V40
Age Group Rank = 0/
Pre-race routine:

Although most of my trip to the UK so far has focused on admiring the performances of Olympic stars, the trip would not be complete without some less super-human athletic activity, in the form of a race with my #1 rival, my younger brother Robin. We chose a local 5k in Bristol as the venue for our latest showdown. He claimed to be out of shape, due to running little and watching too much Olympics on the TV, but the bookies' odds still favored him heavily. I haven't beaten him in a running event, and only managed to beat him in a duathlon. Setting that aside, I was curious to see how I would fare over 5k. I haven't had a fair road test in a while. I've been doing more mileage than usual, as part of a marathon build, but it all consisted of steady running, with no speedwork. In part due to the need to take care of my tender achilles. My hope was to be close to 18 minutes. At this pace, I would have expected to be about a half-minute behind Robin.

I checked in at race HQ at the village soccer club. They initially asked for the princely sum of £4 for my entry, but when they saw that I listed my home as Washington DC, they were so pleased to have somebody from far away that they gave me back my money and declared that I could run for free as an international guest. Nice!

The 5k follows an exceedingly simple route. It's an out-and-back along a bike path that follows a historic train line. This was the last in a summer series of races that runs every month on the same course. I think there's a very slight descent in the first half and a very slight climb on the return. The distance markings are the best that I've ever seen. Since the same race runs so often, there are distance markers painted on the path every 100 meters throughout the route. So never any danger of knowing how far I had to go.
Event warmup:

A couple of miles easy running on the race route. Warming up my legs enough to run faster takes a while these days.
  • 17m 34s
  • 3.11 miles
  • 05m 39s  min/mile

Learning from other recent races that have gone well, I decided to hold back at the start and to gradually wind up the pace. I started a few rows back in the narrow start, and let Robin hare off with the early leaders. I knew this would happen, so I wasn't worried. Thanks to the super-detailed course marking, I knew that I passed the 1/4 mile mark in ~1:20, so I deliberately eased off a little. I passed 1k in 3:30 and 1 mile in ~5:34, feeling fine. At the turn-around, after 8:45, I was probably in around 8th-9th, and around 10s behind Robin. I felt ready to step on the gas a little, and perhaps reel Robin in. I sped up a little and caught a couple of runners, but Robin, who had just seen how close I was, decided to really push on hard, and started to pull away from me. Soon he was in a group of 3 who were behind only the leader, and I was running alone in 5th. In the last mile there was another running pushing me from behind. I sped up a little more, managing to hold him off and to gain a little on Robin. I passed 4k in ~14:03, and knew that if I could hold on then I'd end up with a better-than-expected time. At the end Robin was 4th in 17:26, just a few seconds outside his best ever. I was the next to finish, in 5th at 17:34, which might be my fastest 5k since the 1980s. Although I didn't beat Robin, I was as close to him as I've ever been, and I really didn't believe that I could catch him. I was pleased with the 8:45/8:49 splits for the two halves.
What would you do differently?:

Nothing. It's possible that I could have gone a little faster in the first half. But it also might have backfired.
Post race
Warm down:

Easy cool-down run to loosen up the legs, then took the family out to dinner at a nearby pub, where we found the small number of Brits who somehow weren't glued to their TVs watching the Olympics. A good evening all around.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Lack of fast running in training. Marathon training in legs.

Event comments:

I enjoy the low-key flavor of these local British events. It's what I was raised on, and they're so much simpler than the US races that I normally do. No T-shirts or swag, minimal post-race refreshments, minimal prizes (e.g., no AG awards). People simply show up, run, and then mostly run home again. The one thing that I miss is that the range of abilities is much narrower than in US races. 8 min/mile in a US race would be MOP or much better, but in a UK race it's among the stragglers. This isn't because the runners are so much better, it's because the races are simply drawing a far narrower segment of the running population.

Last updated: 2012-08-09 12:00 AM
00:17:34 | 03.11 miles | 05m 39s  min/mile
Age Group: 0/
Overall: 0/85
Performance: Good
Course: Out-and-back on a rail trail.
Keeping cool Average Drinking
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
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?
Plenty of drinks?
Post race activities:
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2012-08-09 3:12 AM

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University Park, MD
Subject: Bitton Summer Series 5k (Race 4)
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