Today, my wife, kids, dad, and in-laws headed up the road to the local high school to run and walk a 5K that benefited a local Relay for Life team run by friends of our family. This event definitely had a family-oriented feel and it didn't appear there were any big time runners entering, judging by the lack of skinny guys in bright short shorts warming up. I was my usual pre-race nervous self. I haven't run a 5K race in literally ten years. I met up with Justin - last year's winner, and another guy I knew from high school who apparently is now an avid runner. I got my number and returned to the car so that I could "warm up". For me, that means listening to music (Rancid) and trying to stretch out my tense muscles. I lined up next to Justin at the start and hoped for the best.
And we were off. I settled into a nice pace, but I always start too fast, and this was no different. I was in fourth position for the first quarter mile and then reality set in. I slowed down and a few people passed me. Justin went by and said that the opening pace was 5:30. Yikes. At the 1 mile mark, I checked my watch - 6:17. I was pleased and hoped that I could keep it up. The flat course's one modest hill was ahead and I felt good passing a guy who was the last to pass me. I was afraid that the hill slowed my overall pace. Then I turned left onto on a long straight open road and was greeted by a stiff wind. I would have been annoyed by this, except that I was catching up to more people - two young kids who looked like they were on the high school cross country team and another local runner who would normally beat me. Getting close to the end, the course turned again to the north, and suddenly it felt really hot. Maybe the breeze was at my back, but all could feel was the intense heat. It did not make me want to push my pace. It made me want to run hard enough to not throw up. The last quarter mile was on the high school track. I took a peek at my watch and thought I had a shot of finishing just under twenty minutes. I snuck a peek behind me to see if anyone was going to try to run me down. It didn't seem so. I maintained my don't throw up pace and finished in 20:14 - an average of 6:31 minute miles. I was disappointed that I didn't attain my goal, but I'm happy with my pace in these conditions and I was 9th overall. It was hot (low 70's and windy). I now have a little more experience for my next 5K.
My dad finished a couple of minutes later and we waited for my wife (pushing the kids in a double stroller) and her parents to complete their walk. Then we met up with my mom and headed to the local elementary school for an ice cream social and art show for my son's school. Yum!