I was looking forward to running the Alliance for Cancer 5k race this morning (results). I have been getting in good training, I have been eating well, and I was ready to see what I could do. After Wednesday night's track workout: 5 X 1 mile (6:13, 6:00, 6:00, 6:00, and 5:54) I felt more than ready to keep a 6 minute pace for a 5k race.
The drive to Manchester this morning started with a drizzle and then turned into a downpour for a few minutes in Nashua before it stopped. Upon arrival the weather in Manchester was just starting to drizzle and would turn into a light rain before the race. This was a NH Grand Prix race but it didn't seem to have as many runners as usual, as other races like the Ollie 5 Miler (part of the USATF New England series) in South Boston took teammates and other runners away.
The course was advertised as flat and out and back and it lived up to that promise. I was feeling very good and loose at the start and could sprint during the warmups rather freely (something I couldn't do just a month ago). I tried to start out easy and kept a few yards behind Tim Burke. My stride was loose and my running form felt under control and I knew I would have a good race as my running was not labored at all. As I zipped to the first mile mark someone clipped me from behind and almost knocked me over as I scrambled not to fall. I hit the mile mark at 5:47 and everything was going according to plan (particularly as the pace felt easy). I haven't felt that good for the first mile of a race in a long time and I was still trying to hold back and keep everything under control.
The race then had a few twists and turns as it started to meander toward a bridge that we were going to run out on and turn around on. Mike Wright had passed me at this point and I had Tim and Mike in my sights to keep pace with (even though I know they are steady starters and fast finishers). But something happened between the twists, turns, and the running on the wet wooden planked bridge. Instead of having the confident stride I started with, I was having a difficult time relaxing into the good running form I needed. I hit the 2 mile in a disappointing 12:05 and running to the 180 degree turn on the bridge and then back against the crowds coming at me made me even less able to stride well. I had lost the form I had during the first mile. Whether my hip got knocked off balance or muscles that should have been loose tightend up, I could not get going, even though I was not putting out the effort or energy of the timed miles on Wednesday. Only two runners passed me after the bridge but I lost a lot of time to all the other runners ahead of me. Tim and Mike were now far ahead. I think I hit 3 miles in a crushing blow of 18:30 something (I can never remember splits accurately while running). I finished in 19:14. I was very disappointed as I thought a sub 19 was going to be easy and I thought I was ready to go sub 18:30. I guess that will have to wait for another day. Meanwhile whatever happened to throw off my form has left me with a lot of work to do tonight as muscle tightness in my left glutes, back, and neck have settled in.
The good thing about the race is that I won my age division and so I received the maximum points for the Gate City Striders in the NH Grand Prix competition.
On Slowing Down:
Of course a 19 minute 5k might just be the best I can do these days. According to this Letsrun thread: "50 years and slowing" it can be very frustrating trying to run fast in your 50's (unless you're a Merra!) and to all you younger runners the slowdown is fast approaching and it is going to take a lot of hard work to maintain the fitness you think would be so easy as you get a bit older. You will also have work much harder on the non-running parts to be successful: diet, weight, strength, mobility, ect.
On Going Fast:
Meanwhile, while Usain Bolt may have broken the world record for 100m last month running 9.58, this cheetah broke the 100m a couple of days ago with a 6.13 run.
Here is Bolt's race compared to the Cheetah's run.