Sunday, November 20, 2011

Blowing Up For A Cause: Hydrocephalus 5k Race Report

A flying start to the first annual Hydrocephalus 5k!  I'm the guy with the inappropriately fancy Oakleys toward the right.

As readers of this blog likely know, nearly five years ago, my younger brother Jaron died suddenly of hydrocephalus, which is a buildup of spinal fluid in the brain.  Two weeks ago, I learned of a 5k in town run by the Hydrocephalus Association, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to fighting the disorder.  In only two short weeks, thanks to the great generosity of nearly three dozen friends, family members, and Team Z teammates, I was able to raise over $2,700 for the cause; in fact, despite the short notice, I actually became the 4th-highest fundraiser for the event.   For that, I'm greatly indebted.

Today was the race, a largely flat out-and-back along West Potomac Park and Hains Point.  My resolve was to run as hard as I could for the cause, which I hoped would translate into something under 18:30, a time that my 38:25 10k last weekend suggested was a possibility.  The day was beautiful, and I felt pretty good, but when I pulled my GPS watch out of the bag at the race site, I found that it was dead.  So, I borrowed a plain ol' stopwatch-style watch -- a women's watch, nonetheless! -- and did battle as best I could.  A time of 18:30 would require about a 5:57/mile pace.

Ready! Set!  False start by bald dude.
We're off.
Already going too fast!
The entire race field started on a 5:30 pace.  Some lasted longer than others.
Well, to make a short story short, I raced as hard as I could, which turned out to be too hard.  Without the GPS to hold me back, I made the rookie mistake of cruising right behind the lead pack of guys until I could get a split at the first mile.  It felt quick, and my lungs began to burn a bit, but it didn't feel quite suicidal, and I was in the mood to suffer.  And suffer I did: I hit the first mile mark at 5:34 -- 23 seconds faster than the pace I hoped for -- and, by the 2.5k turnaround, I was on my own in a world of pain.  The top two guys were disappearing into the distance, and I was just trying to make it home as best I could.  The last mile or so was very slow, probably not much quicker than a 6:20, and I finished in 18:44 (6:02/mi).  The time was 12 seconds off my PR, but it was good for an Age Group victory in Men 30-39, and 3rd place overall in the race.  Ironically, in the only other 5k I've raced in my adult life, I also finished 3rd overall with an AG victory.  I suppose I'm consistent, if nothing else.

Winning.  The second place guy was afraid to come close enough to get his award.  

In all, it was a pretty satisfying tune-up for Ironman Cozumel next weekend.  I didn't get quite the time I wanted, but given my pacing mistake, I have no doubt that I'm fit enough to go as fast as I wanted to go if my execution had been a little better.  The top two guys finished in the mid-17's, so I was never going to beat them anyway.  And heck, it's fun every now and then to just go out and blow yourself to pieces to see what happens.  Of course, you quickly remember what happens: you can't breathe, want to die, and find yourself staring at the sky 10' past the finish line.  But that's why we all find this stuff so much fun, right?

Me with Noelle and Franklin post-race

Onward to Mexico!  I'll try to keep my opening mile of the Ironman marathon no faster than 5:40...