This race was only three weeks after the Thunder Road Marathon, but I wanted to actually race this one to see how fast I could go. I convinced a friend to race against me, with the hope that he could push me to PR in this race. I haven’t done any speedwork lately, probably since late summer when I was trying to get back to playing soccer, so I was really relying on my long run training instead. I went out last weekend for an 8 mile run and my plan was to do the first 3 miles at goal race pace and then just take it easy for the other 5. I struggled to stay under 10:00, with my splits going 9:18, 9:47, 9:58 – it was not a good day! I messaged my friend and let him know how terrible that run was and he said he did a 5k run that day in 26:00, so I knew I had my work cut out for me. My best is 25:51 and that was on an almost completely flat course, which uptown Charlotte is definitely not! In the days leading up to the race, there was some good-natured trash talking, with his conclusion being that there was no way I could beat him.
Packet pick-up was available at the midtown Run For Your Life store Thursday and Friday and was super easy to get the bib and shirt – if you signed up early enough, you even got to pick your favorite ACC team shirt as your race shirt. There are a lot of options for parking uptown near the race start / finish and everyone, including mascots from every team were congregating inside before the race started. It was great to have a lot of room inside because it was freezing – starting temps were in the low 30’s! I saw a handful of other Pitt fans, but we were definitely in the minority with all the UNC and Clemson fans in town for the ACC Championship game that night.
My plan for the race was to run a little faster in the first half since it was mostly downhill for the first mile and a half and I knew I would end up slowing down on some of the hills at the end. It was pretty crowded when we started, so my friend and I got split up a little, but I kept him in my sights and my plan was just to stay close, but not push too hard to try to catch up. There were some major hills in the second half of the race, but most of them were short, even when they were really steep, so there was a little time to catch your breath. Once we got back onto the last straight stretch, I was trying to remember how many streets we would have to cross before we got to the finish line, but luckily since it was so straight, I was able to see the finish line from at least 5 blocks away. I started to lose some ground with about 3 blocks to go, but I was not going to let him beat me, so I made up the gap and with a block to go, I did my best sprint and beat him by 5 seconds! My Garmin tracked my last .1 as going from an 8:49 pace to a 5:22 pace. I finished the race and all he could say was that he had nothing left. I accepted his defeat and made promises of much gloating on Facebook and Instagram.
- Mile 1 – 8:01
- Mile 2 – 8:26
- Mile 3 – 8:19
Official time: 26:17
This was only my third slowest 5k (by 7 seconds), with the other two being on very flat courses, so I’m very happy with this race. This was not an easy race for me, and I know if I wasn’t trying to beat someone, I definitely would not have gone that fast. It was really cold at the start, so I was glad to have my neck gaiter until I could warm up a bit, but even with that, my lungs hurt for a couple hours after the race from breathing in so much cold air. Only one more race left for 2015!