Saturday, August 25, 2007

Greek Fest 5k

In all fairness, running is not nearly as easy as it's made out to be. Simply putting one foot in front of the other at a relatively fast pace all while keeping your balance, tempering your breathing and making sure you don't run into anybody during a race is quite difficult (at least for me). No, I didn't fall or make anyone else fall, but I learned a lot about myself.

The GreekFest 5k is - according to its sponsors - one of the largest and fastest 5ks in Charlotte. Now, I don't know whether or not that is saying much but winning times for men have been in the low 15s for the past several years. According to my book, that's fast. Really fast. Going into the race I knew I wasn't even going to come close to competing for an overall position (and boy was I right) but I wanted to post something pretty respectable; something I could be proud of.

Going by my pacing during my training runs for the past couple of weeks I thought there was a realistic chance that I could run between an 18 and 19 minute time. I even thought I could post something around 18:30 in an ideal situation, which meant something that was completely flat. I'm much, much better at running on flats than any sort of hills, be it up or down. I'm sure that's not a unique characteristic but it seems to be even more pronounced of a difference for me (maybe it's just mental, who knows).

Anyway, the course was not hilly but there were some pronounced inclines on some of the sections. I wanted to try and pace myself to run about 6:30 for the first 2 miles and then kick it up for the last ~1 mile. Unfortunately, it didn't exactly work out like that. As in (seemingly) every. single. race I've ever done (cycling, obvi) I tried too hard at the beginning to stay near the front of the group. For the first 2 miles I was in a group of about 50 people (mostly guys but there were some women as well), the front of which was about 150-200 yards in front of me. I paced myself behind this guy in a yellow shirt for those first 2 miles but then my effort had to increase exponentially just to stay with him during the last mile or so. I tried for too long to stay with that guy (who I imagine ran somewhere around an 18:00) but in the last 1000 meters or so I just couldn't do it anymore. I began to feel lightheaded and my breathing got very ragged. Up until then I had been keeping my breaths nice and even but it just reached a point where my legs were screaming for more air.

The last 500-600 meters were definitely the hardest. The pressure to finish well was exaggerated by the (literally) hundreds of spectators lining the course for the last bit of the race. I tried to do a kick at the end up but it was mostly futile, alas. I finished with a time of around 19:30 going by my watch, although the final results will be more accurate given that everyone was wearing those timing chips.

All in all, it was fun; now I have a time to build on and hopefully I'll race again within the next month. Whew

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