Portland Running Company's winter 5k series was 3 races, in December, January, and February. I thought this was pretty awesome when I first saw it, for several reasons:
1. It's nearby, about 10 minutes away.
2. It's in the suburbs, so this PRC location is in a mall with plentiful free parking.
3. It's a nice course, on quiet streets and into Greenway Park.
4. There are (reasonably enough) very few, if any, races this time of year. I think aside form this there's a 5k in December with the Holiday Half, and then nothing until the Shamrock Run in March.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to make the first two of the series - out of town for one, and the other was the same morning as the stair climb, though Abe and I did go over to run the course once several weeks ago.
It was important to run the course at least once, because this third race that we did sign up for is a predict race. You submit a predicted pace ahead of time, aren't allowed to use a watch during the race, and prizes are awarded based on how close you finish to your predicted finish time (rather than by finishing first).
I though about my 5k PR (10:16 pace), and while my tempo and speedwork paces have been decreasing, I wanted to make sure I predicted a time that was doable even if circumstances weren't perfect. I was definitely not gunning for a new PR, so I submitted an 11:05 pace (just under 34:30 time).
The race start is about block up from the PRC Beaverton location, so the store is open for checking in and waiting. At about quarter til they announced that we should head to the start line. There were just over 100 people, and based on the prior race results, I knew that while there would be a fair number of finishers in the 30 - 35 minutes range, beyond that only handful, so I lined up pretty close to the back.
The course was an out and back (it was supposed to loop in the park, but a section of the path has been closed), going from streets to park around the 1 mile mark. Half of the road was open to traffic, but it's pretty quiet on a Sunday morning. Right about when I hit the park entrance, the leader of the race crossed going back (finishing in under 18 minutes); knowing that approximate finish time from the earlier races, I tried to use that to estimate my pace for the first mile, but really didn't know. The course is flat-ish, but some ups and downs.
I was leap frogging a few people in the first mile, and then they started walking more. I was definitely putting forth a tempo effort, but it didn't feel completely all out. I caught up with a couple women at the turn around point, passed one quickly, and then was just behind the other for a ways, before picking it up on an uphill and passing her.
In the last half mile or so, maybe a bit more, there was a guy alternating walking and faster running (not intentional intervals, it appeared, but just running out of steam), so leapfrogged with him for a bit. He went ahead in the last 0.1, and I just maintained my speed. It was a little weird in the last mile, the field was pretty spread out, so it would have been rather easy to lose energy; that plus not wearing a watch it hardly felt like a race!
I ended up finishing in 32:24 - a couple minutes too fast! That was a lot closer to my PR pace than I thought it was based on exertion level - 10:23 pace. Though I had some brief stomach discomfort that I considered taking a walking break for in the second mile, I never felt the need to walk just because of running out of power, as I usually do when I'm attempting a 5k PR.
Though the great thing about a prediction race is that anyone of any skill level has a shot at placing, I kind of put myself out of the rurnning. My 0:42 difference per mile was on the higher end of differences. Some of the people who placed in age groups had up to a 25-ish seconds discrepancy, but the top ten overall were 2 seconds or less off! That's seems crazy! Though I figured my difference was a bit too much, I stayed for the awards ceremony. They had grilled cheese and PB&J sandwiches available after, which was surprisingly appealing! Perfect to refuel before heading home to do the remainder of my long run that was scheduled for that day.
I'm pretty pleased that the relatively (for me) intense training I've been putting in - speedwork intervals, tempo runs trying to keep up with my coworker, higher weekly mileage - appears to be paying off. :) I'm definitely going to aim for a PR at the Shamrock 5k coming up in a few week.