Thursday, May 17, 2012

Race Recap: Rockies Home Run for the Homeless 5K

This 5K is one of my favorite races.  Aside from getting to run around the warning track of Coors Field, you get two tickets to a Rockies game in the future.  Combine that with a fun downtown course, and this is a pretty cool 5K.  I haven't been able to do it the past couple years, so I was very grateful that I got this race off and was able to do it this year.

We woke up early, hit the snooze a few times, and eventually rolled out of bed.  It was a really cold morning, especially for mid-May in Denver.  We mentioned bagging the race for like one second, then decided against it and headed downstairs for breakfast.  We both mentioned we would need to dress extra warm for the race.

When we got downtown, we parked in the usual parking lot we do for this race and headed up to get registered.  Purple shirts this year.  Woo!  After registering, we saw one of T's friends from college.  We said hi, etc. then we hung out in the car for a few minutes, sending out happy Mother's Day tweets and Facebook updates, trying to stay warm.  Then we decided to head up and wait for the race to start.

I was trying to think of a strategy for this race from the moment I woke up.  I knew I could beat my previous PR of 28:56 in this race, but I wasn't sure how.  This course, for a 5K, is surprisingly tricky.  The first mile is arguably the fastest mile, so you have to go out pretty aggressive.  Mile 2 is a slow, plodding along mile, where it can get congested as well.  Mile 3 is pretty fast, but it's got some turns and can be very grinding.  I blew up in this mile in 2009, so I knew that was a possibility.  So you can understand that leading up to the start, I couldn't quite get a race plan going in my head.  

T and I decided we'd shoot for a 9:30 in the first mile, no slower then 9:45.  Then we figured we could pick it up slightly in mile 2, and in mile 3, basically push all our chips in the middle.  When the gun went off, we found some open areas and off we went.

Mile 1 was great, quick as I expected it would be.  The crowd seemed light, or maybe it's the fact you can run across 3 lanes of a downtown street.  Regardless, we blazed through the first mile and hit it at 9:20.  Not bad. 

Mile 2 was even more of a grind then I remember.  Maybe it was the cloudiness that day, or maybe the construction in that area.  I don't know.  It was just a long, slow, grinding mile.  I thought for sure our pace had dropped, maybe to the point that cracking my race PR wasn't going to happen.  However, when I saw the mile 2 marker and looked at my watch, I was shocked.  We would be able to hit it in under 10:00 per mile and keep my goal intact.  When we hit mile 2 at exactly 18:40, I knew it was going to happen if I wanted it to.

Mile 3, as I said, is deceptive.  You think it's a quick flat mile, but it's way too easy to start kicking it, then blow up.  I knew I'd have to rein it in until I got close to Coors Field before I kicked it.  And that's exactly what I did.  At some point, T gave me the green light to go ahead of her, as she said she couldn't keep my pace.  

When I turned into Coors Field, I ran like a man possessed.  I tore around the warning track with such ferocity I couldn't believe my legs were kicking the way they were.  I saw the finish, and quick looked at my watch.  Realizing that I was going to shatter my PR, I kicked as hard as I could to the finish.  My watch said 28:01

I waited less then a minute, and then T finished.  We got water, then headed up into the stadium to enjoy hot dogs and squishies.  Yay ballpark food for post-race!  We also talked to her friend a bit more; a runner herself who I'm sure we will have adventures with this year.

At first, I was slightly disappointed in my time, and I don't really know why.  I mean, a 28:01, or 9:02 per mile, is nothing to sneeze at.  Yet I was wondering how much more I could have done.  Could I have cracked 28 or even better, a 9:00 per mile?  I don't know.  I won't know.  I ran as hard as I could that day, and ultimately, I have to live with that.  It is just another thing to keep working on and building on. :-)

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