So I went into this race thinking I would comfortably dip under 17 minutes. I'm fit, I ran the first three miles of a four-mile race on Thanksgiving at 16:25, so it's about time I posted a decent (for me) 5k time on the roads. The weather had different ideas.
Before I get into a brief recap of the race, a little bit about the event itself. Firstly, I was comped in by the ever generous RunColo.com team - so thanks for that Simon. And secondly, this event has to be one of the biggest and best organized 5ks in Loveland/Fort Collins - which speaks volumes to the management of a race that is in just its third year. While there are certainly more competitive races in the area, I don't think there is a race for a cause that gets its message across quite as well as Sierra's race does, or raises as much money (I am sure), or is as well executed. Not only did the race committee get over 1,000 people to the start line this year and last, they also organized an army of volunteers, put on a huge post-race spread courtesy of some very generous sponsors, gave away some great raffle prizes (including a Mexican vacation), and even managed to find some surplus cash to dish out to top finishers. I've run many a 5k for a cause, but this one goes above and beyond.
The race? Well it didn't go quite as planned, but at least I got to turn the legs over a bit. The first mile was sheltered from the wind (which would have been tail) and rolled gently downhill, mile two continued outbound for a bit before a 90 degree turn to the west followed by a 90 degree turn to the north back up the hill into a fierce headwind toward the finish; and mile three was more of the same to the finish line.
I got out with the lead pack, and by the half mile Steve Folkerts had built himself a slight lead. The first mile clicked at 5:18 and by this time it looked like Steve was in command, leaving a race behind him for silver and bronze among the five or six of us in the chase pack. The crosswind and headwind zapped a good 20 seconds off my two-mile split, which clocked at 5:45, and then it was time to grind out the best of a bad situation up the hill into the wind. Being in a pack, I was able to secure some cover, but I would get frustrated at the slow lead pace and take up the pace only to be whacked in the face by the wind. This back and forth went on for most of the last mile with no-one being able to forge any kind of lead. With a quarter mile to go, I decided to let it go and muscle into the wind to see if I could create some separation. I think I got a bit, but not much. At the three-mile marker Tim Hebert eased by me and rolled in for second, while I was able to fend off the ageless Doug Bell for third, finishing in a pretty disappointing 17:43. Last 1.1 came in at 6:40. Ugh!
Gorged myself on two Chick-fil-A sandwiches, one (small) subway sandwich and two breakfast burritos after the race - guess I was hungry - and caught up with a few characters from the local running circuit. I'll be racing Steve Folkerts, among others, again next weekend at the Crazy Legs Trail 10k over varied terrain at the Devil's Backbone where I like my chances a whole lot better than I did today.
Some start and finish footage over at RunColo: http://www.runcolo.com/content/320-sierra-s-race-5k-2010-race-results.html