Monday, September 27, 2010

Chasing a Dream

I spent the majority of my energy this year chasing down a dream - the Ironman.  I planned, trained, and prepared to the best of abilities and went out there and did it.  And it was good.  Not one to just sit idly by, I needed something else.  So I took on working with my buddy to get him to a sub-2:00 half-marathon (his first half BTW) in Hartford, October 9.  In the process/planning, I factored in a fall 5k (or two).

On Sunday, I slipped on the Newtons, and went out to do the Fall Fit 5k in Northampton, MA.  The race was put on by the Smith College Athletics and Recreation Department and the Northampton Education Foundation - who partnered together to raise money to support our local schools.  I'm always up for supporting education - who isn't really?  Plus, given the beautiful weather that we've been having in New Enland, I didn't have much choice. 

The bonus with this 5k was that it would give me the opportunity to chase down another dream, a sub-20:00 5k.  My PR is a 20:26.  I knew that I had a chance - a slim one given the type of training I've been doing this year - but a chance is a chance. 

It was a warm day here yesterday and with the race not starting until 1:00 p.m. ET, I knew that I would be warm.  I knew, too, that the course wasn't as flat as the course was in Hatfield when I PR'ed the first time.  But, I was going to go for it.

A few minutes before the start, we all got a nice thank you from the race organizers and a brief overview of the course (they weren't closing any roads and we'd be on our own on the sidewalks and shoulders).  Definitely not my favorite way to race.  I pushed my way up as close to the front as I could and waited for the gun.  Bam!  We were off. 

I set out at a pretty quick clip - around 6:40/6:45 - and did the uphill into downtown.  I found my groove and felt good.  I saw Coach Martha - who gave me some nice inspiration.  I focused on the people in front of me and did what I could to stay as close to the leaders as I could for the first mile.  By 1.594 mile (thanks Timex Global Trainer), we were about to round a few corners when I saw it - a long, slight incline.  It might as well have been Everest.  My legs were burning.  I focused as best as I could on turn-over and cadence.  I also tried to keep my breathing in check. 

I was doing everything I could to keep from being passed - when one, two, three, four people passed me.  I tried to not let it get to me.  I could hear some steady footfalls behind me when another friend, Lisa, passed me at 2.14 miles.  Staying on her hip, I used Lisa as motivation to keep up the pace.  The finish is down a very steep hill that bottoms out before a flat 500/800 yard stretch to the end.  Somewhere in there I passed Lisa back and sprinted to the finish.  I crossed the line and went into the finishers shoot - 20:51.  Not what I was hoping for, but definitely not disappointed.

My 20:51, a 6:43/mile pace, was good for 29th overall and 7th in the M30-39 age group.  To further put it into some perspective for me - the average finishing time for the top 50 was 19:16 - yeah, this field was stacked!

Like I said, not disappointed, just not as good as I had hoped.  I still have a return to the Hatfield Harvest 5k to look forward to next week.


  1. Niec run considering your training was for a marathon and not a 5K. It does sound like a stacked field - 19:16!

  2. ha! cool to see your 5k time, as i just did one yesterday too! you're fast...and you can break 20. Let's make it a goal for us both in 2011 eh?!!;0