May’s 2011 race was the low-key “Gardiner Spring Fling 5K.” It was not five kilometers, but an accurate three miles. The race started at the 6.5 mile marker of the Kennebec Rail Trail, and turned around at the 5 mile marker. The race started at the end of the rail trail; the reason the markers were in descending order.
There were 20 or so people in the race. It was a benefit for a high school student planning to spend a semester or two in Italy via the American Field Service, AFS, program.
Doreen and Steven did the weekly grocery shopping while I warmed up. The warm up plan was to run one half mile down the rail trail, turn around, and head back. Before the planned turn around, a person went by me slowly on a bike. Maybe he was going slow because of me? I felt if I turned around, I would catch and pass the cyclist. Not wanting to make the guy feel bad, I left the rail trail, and ran back to the start of the race via the road. The warm up mile was a relaxed 8:50. Too bad I did not stop the watch.
I finished the warmup around 11:40 AM, 20 minutes before the race started. There was not the normal energy kicking around. I think a lot of the participants planned to walk the course. It was pleasant listening to conversations. I had a nice chat with the father of the high school student going to Italy.
Noon showed up. The mother of the Italy bound student got everyone’s attention. She timidly said, “go,” and we were off. I quickly noticed I was in third place, behind an adult and a kid, perhaps father and son? They were not going fast. I decided to pass, and for a bit was in first place! This reminded me of my only win.
At this point my running buddy from my last race pulled even with me. He is a friendly guy who is in better shape than me, and also five or six inches taller. This is the moment I realize I did not stop my watch after warming up, though I did not know what was going on at the time. When I started the race, I pushed the start/stop button, thinking I was starting the watch, but actually stopped it.
I wanted to see the pace we were running. All I saw were lines! The horror! Ok, I realize this does not sound exiting. Nonetheless, at the moment it was not pleasant. I knew I messed up, but not sure how. I guess it is a good thing. Means I was running hard, not being able to figure out my watch.
I had enough mental ability to start the watch, noticing the previous lap was 20 minutes. Those were the 20 minutes spent waiting for the race to start after I warmed up.
Eventually the pace reported faster than six minutes per mile. That could not be right. I continued to run at the same effort, and quickly saw a seven minute pace. That felt right, and was goal pace. 6’5″ and I made it to the one mile marker, and I pressed the lap button. I did not know the time we covered mile one. Ok, still does not sound exciting. Guess you had to be there.
We ran side by side past the turn around point, and to the second mile marker in 7:01. After the turn around I picked up the pace to 6:45, but was not able to maintain it. Finishing the second mile at goal pace was good.
Mile three, the last mile of the race, went by for me in 7:09. 6’5″ did great, and finished it 10 to 20 (maybe more) seconds faster than I did. With ½ to ¾ miles left, I will describe the event as I slowed up, and stepped behind 6’5.” That might not be fair. Perhaps my running buddy sped up. Either way that was the second time in two races my 2011 running foe passed me in the last mile of the race, and I didn’t get past him again.
As I crossed the finish line, the race director congratulated me in finishing in 21 minutes. I asked her if 21 minutes was “on the nose?” She said yes, so I will go with that time, exactly goal pace. I suspect if the race went another .1 miles, I would have been able to sprint it in 30 – 40 seconds. It is good progress, just about one minute faster than any other 5K I have done this year.
Due to mile two going by in 7:01 and mile three being 7:09, that means mile one was 6:50. I rely on my Garmin too much. Oh well, it is fun.
The Garmin provided great info, even though I pushed all the wrong buttons. Here is the course:
My Garmin watch skills were really lacking during this race. I failed to stop it after the race. It recorded the elevation as Doreen, Steven, and I drove home. Here is the chart (the race is the lowest elevation this year. Other races the elevation and heart rate lines are pretty close together:)
My next race is Joseph’s 5K in Fairfield on June 18. Thanks for reading!