2020 Shamrock RVA 5k
21:58 (7:04 min/mile)
5/35 AG 20/302 Overall
March 8, 2020 – My last race before Covid conquered the world was the Shamrock RVA 5k at Hardywood Brewery downtown. I still hadn’t gotten completely back into shape after my surgery in December, but I’d been training consistently and was hoping to have a reasonably good showing. Several of my ProK teammates decided to run, including Leigh Anne, Candace and Mindy. On top of that, our neighbor Kim decided to make this her first 5k, and somehow I was selected as the designated driver to the brewery.
After arriving at the race site, I ran into my friend and fellow triathlete, Jim Rosen, who was also racing. Historically, Jim is a faster runner than me, but I have a slight age advantage on him. He and I did a short warmup and then headed over into the starting corral. It was a self-seeded start, and Jim and I positioned ourselves near the front, but behind the super fast runners. My goal was to average just under 7-minute miles, and I knew that would be a tough task since I was still getting back into shape after the surgery. Still, the course was pretty flat, so I thought I had a chance.
Mile 1 (7:04)
When the gun sounded, Jim and I took off, and he settled in right behind me. There was a bit of a crowd at first, but it thinned out pretty quickly. After the first few 100 yards I checked my Garmin and noticed that we were running at about a 6:40 pace. Too fast for sure, and that seems to happen more often than not in short races due to adrenaline and nerves. I backed off a bit, and Jim did as well. He was content to ride along in my wake for the draft. We saw Coach Karen spectating somewhere in the first mile, who gave us some Karen-style encouragement. I’m pretty sure it was something like, “go faster.”
I felt fairly good at the end of the first mile, and finished it in 7:04. That was pretty spot on for trying to average a 6:59 pace since I wanted to get faster with each mile.
Mile 2 (7:09)
The course took a left turn towards the west at mile 2 and the wind hit us right in our face. It wasn’t horrible – probably about 10-12 mph – but it was coming right at us and definitely slowed me down. Jim stayed tucked in behind me to stay in the draft, and I think I made a couple of comments to the effect that it was his turn to take the lead, which he politely declined.
We turned back towards the east around the 1.5 mile point, and I was happy to have a tailwind. By that point though, I was really starting to hurt, and I knew that the last mile was going to suck. The last mile of a 5k always hurts if you do it right, but I felt like the hurt came earlier than normal this time around. I finished mile 2 in 7:09, which wasn’t where I was aiming. The wind definitely hurt the pace, but I felt like I was fading pretty hard and didn’t know whether I was about to explode. Jim was still right behind me, and while I wasn’t really racing him, I certainly wanted to beat him if I could. I figured he felt the same. I knew he was sitting back and waiting to make a move near the end, but I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to go with him when he did.
Mile 3 (6:59)
The course turned south near the start of the third mile and I felt like I was hanging on for dear life at that point. Jim and I saw Karen again around the 2.5 mile point, and she yelled to me that I’d better get moving or Jim was going to beat me. No shit! I knew what was about to transpire, but I couldn’t go any faster and I couldn’t drop him.
At mile 2.6, we took a right to head towards the finish – back to the west and into the wind again. That stretch seemed to last forever. At about mile 2.9, Jim took off from behind me and I tried (ever so briefly) to go with him. With his burst, he was past me and leaving me behind pretty quickly, which was pretty demoralizing. I did run a bit faster, but I didn’t have enough juice left in the tank to catch him. He finished in 21:51 and I was seven seconds behind him at 21:58. His time was good enough for 3rd in his age group, and I was 5th in mine – missing 3rd by a measly 10 seconds. My overall pace was 7:04/mile, which was 5 seconds per mile over my goal. For still being in surgery-recovery mode, though I’d take it.
Mindy was super fast, and was the first female finisher in 19:53. Candace won her age group in 24:18 and Leigh Anne also won hers in 24:18. So yeah, I was the only ProK sad sap going home without any bling. That’s ok, I was pretty much just happy to be back to racing at that point after the cancer scare and surgery. Unfortunately, Covid was about to hit and shut down pretty much everything for the rest of the year. We weren’t really worried about that at the moment though, there were post-race beers to drink and bling to collect.