As you can see from the pre-race photo above from the Cornhusker State Games Energy 5K, I raced on July 20, the eve of my 45th birthday. I’m the one with the hat, the blue KT tape, and the Five Fingers shoes. Kind of exciting to race your time from your 44th birthday in the same calendar year. Last year, I ran on my birthday fast enough for a silver medal in my age group.
Silver medals are bittersweet because they are not gold medals and for competitive people like me, it makes me want to try again to see (and perhaps to prove) if gold is attainable. So I did. For the most part, I ran with the medalists (the age group medalists anyway).
There were some challenges in this race: 1) moved from morning to night; 2) different course, and 3) double the runners from last year. I adjusted to the night running well. The course seemed flatter than last year’s (there were some hills but I didn’t seem to feel them until late in the race). It was the numbers competition that was the hardest adjustment. Unlike last year, I could not sense in the twilight who was in my age group. For example, at the finish, I gunned it because it appeared that the 2 guys in front of me could have been in my over 40 age group and I suspected they could be at medal pace since I thought I was (learned later they were both 24). The sudden gunning and harder-than-expected landing on the chip mats caused a blood blister on my left foot. The pace at the start was fast, faster than I was expecting. But I held on to that faster pace as long as I could, finally slackening it slightly to reserve enough energy for a strong finish.
My wife ran this race too. I signed her up so it was an official “running date” although running our own paces. I told her I was going for gold so she knew that.
I ran as fast as I could and came up a little bit short but still earned a bronze medal for my age group.
By the numbers: 24:31 officially, 7:54 pace, 61st of 375, 43rd of 141 men, Age group: 3rd of 15 (Bronze medal), silver was 2 seconds in front of me, gold medalist was 2:14 (!) in front of me. Maybe tapering 1 week for this race was not enough. Perhaps not enough speed work? Maybe I should actually train for this race if I’m serious about a gold medal instead of overtraining for much longer races to get my endorphin rush. Maybe I need to ask some 5K specialists how they train for these races. But I have to be pleased that I ran 1:03 faster than last year, racing in Five Fingers in a 5K for the first time. The irony is, a slower time was good for silver last year and a faster time was only good for bronze this year. Live and learn.
The theme for the Cornhusker State Games this year was “Be Amazing” so that is what the shirt says. This race was amazing for me. Speed (other than a strong closing “kick”) is not my strength. Distance is. So I tried to “lasso” other runners passing me to catch them to stay in the race. Not too many of those runners escaped without me catching them or staying close.
That is how I closed the books on my 44th year. So I leave you with an Irish sunset from County Donegal, Ireland. Cheers, Jeremy