2017 Petersburg Halloween 5k
23:59 (7:43 min/mile)** 1/9 AG 6/196 Overall
**Actual pace of 6:58/mile based upon GPS distance of 3.44 miles
October 21, 2017 – After having recovered from Ironman Chattanooga for about a month, I decided on the fly to sign up for the Halloween 5k in Petersburg on Saturday, October 21st. “On the fly” meant registering on Friday at lunchtime, and I was motivated by my plan to spend the 12 months post-IMChoo building my running speed. Running is my weakest discipline in triathlon, and I was tired of climbing the AG standings in the swim and run, only to slide down on the run. Thus, 2018 was already planned to be the year of speed work, and there was no use in waiting until the end of the year to start the process. After a few mouse clicks, I was signed up and ready to run.
The 5k was being held in conjunction with a half-marathon, and a lot of the 5k participants were running in costume. The thought of running in my Batman costume briefly crossed my mind, but I was looking to run fast, not flashy. I’d never run a 5k at a 7:00 min/mile pace or faster, so that was definitely my goal, and that pace equates to a 21:45 5k. My legs were pretty well recovered from Chattanooga, so I thought that I could pull it off if I had a good day. I definitely didn’t want to report back to Karen with anything above a 7:00 min/mile pace, because I knew the “Big Baby” comments would be copious if I did.
The weather for race day was cool but not cold, and I arrived in Petersburg about an hour before race time. Due to my late registration, the check-in folks didn’t have my information, so after waiting in line to get my bib for 10 minutes, I had to go back to my car to get my cell phone so that I could show them my confirmation email. After getting squared away after another wait in line, I did a short warm up to get ready for the race.
Mile 1 (7:08)
While not terribly hilly, the course wasn’t exactly flat either, with 157 feet of elevation gain. The first two miles were primarily uphill, with the remainder having a slight decline. Thus, I planned to run the first two miles slightly above a 7:00 min/mile pace and then accelerate downhill towards the finish.
I positioned myself near the front at the start, and when the gun went off, there were about twenty people ahead of me. About five of them were kids, and most of the kids were pretty much sprinting so I knew that they’d burn out quickly. There were a few really good runners up ahead though, and a couple of them pulled away fast. There was a ten year old and an older black gentleman slightly ahead of me, and I tucked in behind them in the first mile.
The course went uphill pretty quickly, then flattened out as we did a 180 degree turn. It was then uphill once again. I did my best to take it relatively easy on the hills, and I kept waiting for the ten year old to wear himself out. He was clearly overrunning the course, and I thought that he’d melt down in the first mile. I hit the 1 mile point at 7:08, and was right on my pacing goal. There was certainly some fatigue, but overall, I was feeling okay.
Mile 2 (7:05)
The older gentleman began to gradually pull away from me, and the kid kept on trucking, staying about 10-15 yards ahead. His breathing was getting more and more labored, as was mine, but I felt like I was pacing properly. The course took us west on Hinton Street, and there were some rolling hills, but nothing as steep as in the first mile.
Near the end of mile 2 I finally passed the young boy, and I was pretty sure that his goose was cooked because he looked like he was hurting really bad. Fatigue was definitely setting in for me, but I was comforted by the thought that the final 1.1 miles would be primarily downhill. I completed mile 2 in 7:05, and was holding my pace very well.
Mile 3 (6:50)
By mile 2.25 we turned right to head north for a block, and then the course made another right turn to head back east towards the finish line. I was hurting pretty good by that point, but the slight decline made things a bit better. As did the thought that I was almost done. There were still a few uphill portions in mile 3, and those obscured my view of the course ahead of me…and what I thought was the finish.
By the time my GPS hit 2.8 miles I had crested the final hill and had started my finishing kick. Still, I couldn’t see the finish line ahead of me and was wondering were it might me. My overall pace was hovering just above 7:00 mins/mile, so I kicked it up a notch, knowing that I was almost done.
Mile 3 to 3.44 (6:26 pace)
When my GPS tripped three miles I was still running east and was a couple of blocks south of the finish area near the river. I was running on fumes by then and my finishing kick was really running out of “kick.” I finally saw a left turn up ahead, but it seemed like it was WAY up ahead, well beyond another tenth of a mile. In actuality, I hit the left turn at mile 3.3 and I still had another couple of blocks to run to the finish line.
I was pretty well spent by that point, but managed to keep it together based upon a surge of energy that was fueled by a mixture of anger and relief. I finally crossed the finish line in 23:59 with my GPS reading 3.44 miles. That’s quite a bit off of 3.1 miles, and I’d done my best to run the tangents so as not to add any extra distance. Thus, I was convinced that the course was long and that my GPS wasn’t off.
After finishing, I immediately found some of the other finishers and compared my GPS to theirs. Pretty much everybody had 3.44 to 3.5 miles, so I’m quite confident that the course was significantly longer than advertised. I also posted my thoughts on the actual distance on the race’s Facebook page, and everyone who responded confirmed that they had a similar distance on their GPS.
My actual pace from my Garmin was 6:58 min/mile, which was a PR for me – even if it was unofficial. I was very happy with that, particularly since I was less than thirty days out from IMCHoo. I didn’t stick around the race site very long, but it turned out that I’d won my AG (1/9) and had finished 6/196 overall. I might have won some cool bling, but I guess I’ll never know since I didn’t stay to collect it.
On another note, the kid who was running ahead of me and who faded at mile 2 ended up finishing about 1.5 minutes after me. He definitely fell off of his initial pace, but not as much
as I expected, so good for him. He might have beaten me if he’d paced himself a little better. Pretty awesome though for a ten year old.
Next up for me was the Richmond Half Marathon in November, where I was trying to run a sub-8:00 minute/mile pace. I still had some training to do, but felt pretty good with where I was after a good showing in Petersburg.