I decided to do this years race as a speed workout during my training for the Boston Marathon. It was my second race of the year and my second consecutive month racing on the 1st day of the month. My friend Katherine was also going to do the race and I looked forward to running with her. The last 5K her and I did together was on her wedding day where I paced her to the overall female win at the Run 2 Give 5K in Beaufort in August of 2012.
I arrived at the CMAST building where the start/finish of the race was with my Dad at 7am. I walked over to the Civic Center to register and get my packet. The race tee shirts were nicer than last year thanks to the addition of some red colored letters. I talked with some friends that were also running before making my way back to the car. It was cold but not as cold as last year and thankfully it wasn't windy. The temperature was right around freezing and there was a slight breeze. After eating a Powerbar and drinking some water, I did my usual dynamic warm-up routine before heading out on an easy 1.5 miles warm-up run on the course with Katherine. The course is an out and back. You start on a road at the CMAST building, go through the parking lot of the Civic Center, up to the sidewalk on Arendell Street, take the first right past the Visitors Center, then a left onto Evans Street and run all the way to where the road dead ends at the Atlantic Beach high rise bridge. It's flat with a little downhill start and a slight uphill finish. There is a speed bump within five feet of the startling line so you have to be careful starting and finishing over that.
The turnout was about the same as last year, around 100 runners. Ryan Albertson, winner of the Historic Beaufort Road Race 5K in July 2013, was there along with two high school runners he coaches. I knew Ryan would win the race but I hoped chasing him would get me a fast time.
After passing the Visitors Center and taking a right and then a left to get on Evans Street, Ryan started to distance himself from me and the rest of the field. I felt good but watching him sail away was hard. I started looking for the 1 mile maker and remembered about where it was from last year but there was no mile marker this year. No big deal since I had ran a bigger 5K in Raleigh in December that also didn't have mile markers. I looked down at my Garmin 210 and I was running 5:44 min/mile pace.
The race course passes the home of Carteret County running legend, friend, and my mentor Sonny Hyman. Ryan's high school runner was still with me, on my right shoulder and I told him that Ryan makes it look easy and that he probably wasn't going to be running 20 miles the day after the race like I was. I rounded the turn around and hit the lap button on my watch. I ran the first 1.55 miles in 8:54, 5:44 min/mile pace.
I did a little surge after passing the turn around. On the way back I noticed Katherine was running strong and currently leading the women's race with Ryan's female high school runner not far behind. Katherine looked focused and deteremined. Ryan was long gone out in front and I was starting to pull away from the high school runner he brought with him. I kept trying to pick the pace up but lacked an extra gear it seemed. I was running hard but felt comfortable though.
I felt like my second half split was going to be consistent with my first. Although I had done a surge shortly after the turn I felt like I was running the same pace. I lost sight of Ryan once we got back onto the sidewalk and later in the Civic Center parking lot. I kept pushing hard realizing I had a shot at a PR. Ryan won the race in 16:54 and I finished 2nd overall in 17:44; a new PR for me by 2 seconds. My second half split was 8:50; a four second negative split. The high school runner Ryan coaches finished 3rd in 18:15. Katherine held on and won the women's race in 19:30, beating the time she was shooting for by an impressive 1:20. Katherine was three seconds ahead of the 16 year old high school girl Ryan coaches. I was happier and more proud of Katherine than I was for myself.
I was happy with my time, it was a PR afterall during marathon training. I think I could get down into the 17:30s while training for a marathon but it is difficult when the two distances require totally different training. I felt good during the race; possibly too good because 5Ks should hurt more and maybe I'm not pushing myself as hard as I can in a 5K. It was a good tempo workout the day before my first 20 mile long run of this marathon training cycle. I have been doing some short surges and in some of my mid week long runs which has helped develop speed in the shorter distances. I'm better at the marathon and I enjoy marathon training and racing more than 5Ks but I would like to get my 5K into the 17:30s. Hopefully Ryan will be able to help me with that once I get past Boston.