Today was the Run Around the Pines 5k. It was a great morning for running, and this course seemed like it would be a fast course. The weather was perfect. The course was pancake flat, most courses in Florida are flat, but this one was really flat. I think the net elevation change may have been under 10 feet.
The only problem is I didn't feel so good. I had a hard time falling asleep and had some pretty bad stomach pains throughout the night. I think it might have been the Quest chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar I ate. Usually, I hate protein bars, but the reviews for the Quest bars made them sound almost appetizing. They had just gotten delivered and I was anxious to try it, but I probably shouldn't have tried it the night before a race. It was a pretty dense bar, it didn't look too tasty.
But, I have to admit, it wasn't that bad. But, my stomach was rumbling the rest of the night drying to digest this monster and I had a huge stitch on my right side. No matter what position I tried to sleep in, it was painful and it hurt to take a deep breath. This was not looking good for my race! I finally fell asleep and got a few hours of sleep before I woke up at 5 to eat some breakfast. My stomach felt better, but I still had the side stitch. At this point, I didn't think I'd be racing the 5k, and would probably just go out and run it for fun.
I got to Cady Way park around 6:15 and got my packet. I had a cup of coffee and got my bib affixed to my shorts. Then, before long, it was time to warm up. I just did a slow jog for a couple of miles and finally started to feel a little better. After my warm up jog, I felt like I would at least try to race and if I had to slow down, then I would. But, my side stitch appeared to finally be gone.
The finish of this race is pretty neat, you get to run up onto the track at Showalter Field and finish like a track star!
I really wanted to run a good race, this is the second to last race of the Track Shack race series and I was in 2nd place in my age group. I was one point behind Estevan Torres and I wanted to try to beat him to get into the lead. Usually, I line up a couple of people back to let the faster people have more room, but today I was right up front. I wanted to try to start out ahead of Estevan and keep him behind me. The horn went off and we were off!
I felt pretty comfortable for the first mile, and it flew by and felt pretty easy. I went through the first mile marker at 5:35! Wow, that was fast... probably too fast and I thought I would probably pay for that later.
For the second mile, I tucked in with a group of 4 or 5 other runners and just tried to keep pushing but also staying relaxed. The last 5k I ran, I had a huge drop in time in my second mile, my goal was to do better this time. I ended up with a 5:40 split for the second mile. Awesome! And I still hadn't seen Estevan go by me. This race was going better than planned, especially with my stomach issues beforehand.
The last mile was tough, I tried to keep pushing, but I could tell I was slowing down. I was just worried that Estevan would pull up next to me and then start running away from me. But, he never did. I hit 5:52 for the 3rd mile split and then started pushing for the finish line. Everything was burning now, but it was almost over. I felt like I was sprinting and making an ugly "I want this to be over" face. But, my watch says my pace was 5:50 at that point. So, not much better than my 3rd and slowest mile.
I finished with a huge 22 second PR in a time of 17:49! Unbelievable! And I had beat out Estevan, but unfortunately I came in second place in my age group. There is always someone I don't know or haven't seen before who beats me! But, it was enough to tie Estevan going into the last race of the season... the Winter Park 10k on March 15th. You can see below that I have yet to finish first in my age group in any of the races, usually I'm second. But, I guess consistency is the key, because I have a chance to win it!
I exceeded all my expectations with this race. Sometimes it's amazing what your body can achieve if you just push yourself. When I got up this morning, the last thing I wanted to do was run a 5k race. But, I'm glad I did it and I'm extremely happy with the PR! And, as always, Track Shack puts on a great race. Plenty of refreshments and if you beat the pineapples (runners in pineapple costumes) you got a free smoothie. I thought that was pretty neat. This was my first time running this race and I really enjoyed it, finishing on the track was also really cool!