I drive to Fort Collins this morning with Coach Jabe and her large team. We have 7 in our car, plus another car. The Jingle Bells 5K raises money for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Our team raised the 3rd highest amount and qualified us for the VIP tent – which I use to store my gear bag. That’s Jabe to my right in the Santa outfit. I run wearing a Santa beard.
I don’t like making commitments to a fast race. I prefer to make up my race plan after I’ve warmed up in the first mile. Keith asks me how I plan to run though, and I sort of suggested I was striving for a 5K PR in my last blog. I tell Keith I am going to run hard enough to beat my best 10K pace of a 7:09 mile. When Abbie scoots in line with me and suggests she is going to run about 22 minutes, I tell her I will try to keep up. I am also talking to Tom, a 62 year old in line with me, who said he runs about a 23 minute 5K. I am in fast company.
I chat a bit with Abbie during the first half mile. I feel comfortable breathing. The weather is sunny and in the 40s – perfect for distance running. I surge a bit ahead of Abbie which suggests to me I might be running too fast. My pace at the first mile marker is 6:44. This is fast for me but I feel fine. This CSU campus course is virtually flat with only a 59 foot elevation gain. My initial plan was to push the second mile but since I’m considerably under my target I decide to try holding my pace. I find myself passing quite a number of other runners but am fairly certain I’m not picking up my pace. The second mile comes in at a 6:46 pace – only 2 seconds off my first mile.
I’m super pleased with this because I still feel quite comfortable. I determine to forgo a kick and start pushing my pace now to ensure I PR. I’m confident I can run this third mile in a 7 minute pace. This will be great because I don’t just want to beat my 10K pace, I want to average under 7 minutes and right now that looks achievable. I pass about 3 more runners on this last mile, including a lady running with her dog and a kid likely in grade school. Surprisingly my final mile is in 6:38 and I finish with a 20:49 PR. This kills my previous best 5K by well over a minute and I even cooled down the last 100 yards rather than putting on a kick. To make things even better, I win an award for placing 2nd in the masters division which is for everyone 40 and older.
Keith finishes with Abbie and wins his age division in about 22 minutes – exactly what Abbie said she would run. We all meet up at the Chi Omega sorority house for a fund raiser breakfast. Home now planning an appetizer for tonight’s Christmas fondue party. I might just cut up a bunch of celery sticks. Sort of short on time.