When I last left you yesterday I was worried about whether I would be running the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge due to a new pain in the leg. After donning my GNRC singlet (gotta represent!) I went out for a warm up run and the leg seemed fine during it so I decided that the race was on. As it turns out the leg soreness was a complete non-issue during the race.
It's amazing that after all the races I have done I still get anxious beforehand. As I was pinning my number on my shirt I was surprised that I was getting increasingly nervous with anticipation. All those old pre-race feelings came rushing back just like it was my first race. I was looking forward to really getting out there and proving to myself that all of the training over the past few months was paying off so I was extra jittery and nervous.
At this point I should mention that I am not a fan of the start of this race. You stand around waiting for them to let you on to Charles St. and when they finally do you have to fight your way to the front where you stand around for another 15 minutes while they drone on about how great their sponsors are while slow runners start making their way in front of you. I started two rows of people back but by the time the horn went off I was more like 6 rows back. As a nice little change this year though, when they went to play the National Anthem there was a technical problem and nothing played. So instead we all just started singing. It was really great and a good lift to the spirits to get the race started.
The horn goes off and exactly like every other year, I spend the first half mile fighting the crowd, weaving and dodging, trying to set a good pace. Finally I had enough room to settle in and I quickly realized that a 6 minute pace was feeling real comfortable. It was decided right there then, it was going to be a 6 minute or better pace the whole way. Mile one comes up at 6:10, a bit slow due to the crowds but right on target.
As I approached Kenmore Sq. I could see the leaders flying by and I was surprised that they weren't that far ahead (the winner finished in 16:48 so it is somewhat relative). The turnaround in Kenmore and I was feeling great. Mile two went by at 12:08; I had picked up the pace and was running under 6 minute pace now.
The great straightaway was ahead as we made our way back down Comm Ave. This is where people start falling apart, they go out quick surrounded by fast runners and then die on the long run back. This is also where I started picking them off. Two thoughts kept going through my head, keep that 6 minute pace and if there was any doubt, trust in my training (good advice from Mary there). I clung to that pace but was rather shocked that I didn't really have to work at it, the run still felt strong and fluid. It took an effort but it wasn't exactly hard, I wasn't struggling with form or breathing.
Which meant only one thing; as we took the first turn around the Public Garden it was time to speed things up. Everyone around me was hurting. The number 8 woman was just in front of me. I still had gas in the tank. I pushed the pace down to a 5:35 and tore up the final stretch, passing a few more people. As I approached the finish line the time on the clock was getting close to 21 minutes. A last burst of speed guaranteed me a sub-21 minute time.
I was psyched (I still am). The race went better than I had planned. It was faster, stronger, and easier than any race of that distance I had ever done. In the end my official time was a 20:53 or an average pace of 5:58, my first ever sub-6 minute race. Even though this was 3.5 miles long, that's 5 seconds/mile faster than my best 5K pace which was set on a course with a net-downhill elevation change of almost 100 feet. Out of over 11,000 runners I ended up 120th overall, 113th male.
The only regret I have was not being able to follow the race plan exactly as Mary laid it out. I was instructed to "run hard enough that you have to puke". I did not puke, and for that I am ashamed. I will try harder next time.