As I’ve mentioned many times on this blog and on my Josheli Running video channel, I’ve had a goal for about two years now to run a 5K in under 20 minutes as a 50 year old. This Sunday, at the Super Bowl 5K in Denver, I came a little bit closer to achieving the goal. Closer, in fact, than I’ve ever been in the last two years (I only turned 50 a few months ago).
Looking at my 5K progression over the last decade, we can see I ran my fastest 5K pace in this race since I was 38 years old 12 years ago.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the race this latest 5K race.
Conditions were perfect, and the course is fast. Sunny, no wind, and temperature in the 20s, which sounds cold, but in Colorado is an ideal temperature when the Sun is out and the wind is dead. My goals were to (A) run 6:45 pace or faster, (B) go under 21 minutes, and/or (C), go under 20:45.
I warmed up by jogging a couple of miles but never really got to do any strides or sprints to get my heart rate up. I decided to start about 10 rows back, forcing me to run with the crowd and dodge any slower runners, hopefully keeping me from going out too fast. However, as always, I did go out too fast. I looked at my watch about 400 meters in and I was at 6:04 pace. Granted it was slightly downhill, and the adrenaline was pumping, but I knew it was too fast. Actually, I was thinking, “wow, I’m in better shape than I thought!” And when I was at about 6:25 pace after 800 meters, I thought, “I might actually do this!” I should have known better. I came through the first mile in 6:34.
The second mile of a 5K is always death. This one was ever so slightly uphill, and I was trailing a woman the whole time. There was a man right in front of her and I kept thinking, “they look like they’re jogging, why am I not catching up with them?” 6:40 pace just doesn’t look very fast. My forearms were aching. I got a slight side stitch. A pain in my neck popped up. It was fairly miserable. I was happy to see Jessica cheering at about the two mile marker.
The third mile of the loop was essentially the same as the first, so there was some downhill, and I could see the leaders on the other side, finishing. The end is in sight so the suffering is more endurable. The woman I had been trailing widened her lead over me, and the man in front of her came within striking distance. He looked to be in my age group. Several young runners, who looked to be high schoolers using the race as a training run, flew by me at what seemed like sub-6 minute pace. I decided to pass the man in front of me at about the 2.75 mile point. That was a mistake. I came through mile three in 6:41.
Rounding the bend for the final .1, the man I had passed, and another man, flew by me as I struggled to keep myself together. I felt like I was in mud, unable to sprint. I saw the clock ticking upwards: 20:56, 20:57…. I thought maybe I could make it under 21 minutes, but alas, I came in at 21:03 on my watch and official chip time. My final .1 was at 6:16 pace, and my GPS says the race I ran was 3.15 miles at 6:40 pace.
So did I meet my goals? I was little disappointed with the official time, but happy with my reported pace. 6:40 for 5K is actually 20:42, so if you squint, I did meet my goals.
After the race, I cooled down with a couple miles, met up with Jessica, then ate a big stack of pancakes.