It was the dream. It still is. Remember the times when men (and women) thought that a 4-minute-mile is impossible? Skeptics believed that our bodies are just not built to be that fast. How about a 2-hour-marathon, is that as far as reaching for the stars? Mankind passed the 4-minute-mile more than half a century ago, and we are closing on the 2-hour-marathon. However noble those dreams are, mine is not as crazy. All I want to do is to chip away my previous “recorded” 5k time of 21:57. I really want to break 20 minutes, but let’s do things one step at a time. 21 minutes is a good start.
Today is the right place and the right time. I had the Inaugural Blue Hen Homecoming 5k on the calender for weeks now, and if I’m going to break the 21 minutes target, the time is now. I don’t feel comfortable running a 5k as I rarely train high intensity for short distances, but with my new Garmin FR220 GPS watch (I will talk about this watch some other day), I can try to keep the pace needed to beat the time. This is the game plan – 7 minute mile for the first 2 miles, and 6 minute mile for the last mile. My good friend Eric Chen even volunteered to pace me and let me draft off him. I know this helps but I don’t know how to draft off people. With all that said, everything was all set. Today isn’t about winning the race, it is about getting a new personal record.
And bam, the horn goes (I don’t know how a horn sounds like). Everyone was sprinting like a madman in the first couple of strides, and my watch registered 5:30 min/mile. I have this setting on my watch that is set to vibrate and make loud noises if I am faster than 6:30min/mile. This is for times like these, if I am going too fast, and so for the first 5 minutes the watch just kept vibrating and crying like a baby while I ignored it whole-heartedly. Eric knew that I was going too fast, but he didn’t know how to stop me, while I ran to my hearts content until I got slightly tired and fell to his pace.
I have never followed a pacer, and I don’t think Eric ever paced anyone, but he is really good at pacing and I suck at following. We stuck to the game plan at 7 minute/mile for the first 2 miles before I took off. By this time, everyone was tired but I still have some gas in the tank for some last mile “sprint”. All the people who passed me before this point had their edge slowly eroded away. I am not doing this with ease, though – I’m also running out of breathe. (SAW THAT PUN?! :D) There were seconds when I felt that I should slow down but the great thing about 5k is that they are rather short and my willpower only have to last for the course of the race. I might be out of breathe when I saw this guy with a really nice pair of minimalist shoe slowing down, but I kept my pace with his and bombarded him with questions, which he didn’t really answered. I got bored and ran off, and he apologized to me after the race, telling me that he couldn’t understand me when I was running, so we are totally cool now. :D
There was a turnaround near the 2 mile mark and I counted that I was around no.18. I’m not here to be top 10, but if you can see the finish line and there are 7 people standing right in front of you, you run them down just like how a lion chase after it’s first meal of the week. After a final left turn, I could see the finish line far away (maybe 200ft? I can’t count in feets) and there were nobody behind me (I think I have at least a 30 seconds split over the next guy). If I had wanted to finish in my current position, I wouldn’t waste the effort to be at the end of a pack, so I decided it is about time to power up those hamstrings! I ran hard and laughed like a retard, while still managing to pass 5 people. They must have thought I am either a really arrogant or very crazy (Asian) person. Finally, I was on the heels of this last guy, and he started to increase in stride. I shouted, “Yeah man! That’s the spirit, run till the finish!”. I wonder if he had heard me.
As I cross the finish line, I shouted “Shit!” (I think. Some profanity.) The clock said 21:01 and I was devastated. I slowed to a walk and one of the cheerleaders commented, “Well, he finished a 5k. I doubt I could.” I must had looked really sad. Couple of seconds later, Eric came in and was shocked that I didn’t break the 21-minute-5k. We grabbed some pizza and cookies before Xiangyu (Luke), who paced with us for a mile, finished.
The first silver lining is, I was no.3 in my age group. The bad news is, this race didn’t give out any prizes for age group winners. However, the real good news is, they gave out medals for top 3 male students, and one of the guys who finished before me and was in my age group is not a student. So with some sheer luck, I ended up being 2nd for Male students! This is probably one of the few times I’m proud to still be a student rather than being a working adult. Oh wells, I guess breaking the 21-minute-5k is the goal for another day!
Special thanks here for Eric C. who paced me for 2 miles and XiangYu who waited around and walked back with me instead of hitching a ride back with the others!
Here are all the information/links to more stuff:
Official time: 21:00.1 (I missed by two tenth of a seconds. That’s like 0.13453 steps. DARNNNNNN); 12th Overall/M; 3rd Male 19-29 age group.
Race results: http://www.novatimingsystems.com/results.aspx?race_id=2488
Track me on Garmin! http://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/614545560