After nearly 4 years, it was finally time to run a race again. My girlfriend joined me in Hillsborough, NC this past weekend for the Got Grit 5k. We were one of the first people to arrive at a seemingly abandoned Orange High School but thankfully the place quickly filled up, with just under 300 runners competing in the race.
The course was an out and back so I knew it couldn't be too bad but no one was able to actually tell me where the race went, only where the starting line was. This is somehow the 6th annual. I headed out for my warm-up to get an idea. I do very little morning running (still working on that part) so I felt very sluggish in my warm-up. I shuffled through 2.5 miles trying to get my body going, but was never really worried because I knew it would change once the gun went off. My goal for the race was under 18:59 or as close to 6:00/mile as I could get.
The race started and a small group sprinted out in front with me and a few others shortly behind. After about 400 meters there was just 4 runners ahead of me and I made no attempt to catch up as they were flying. It's been a very long time since I raced, so pacing was my biggest concern. I though an ideal first mile for me would be 5:50 or a little under. Even staying back from the lead group, I knew I was going a little too quick and kept trying to back off. I didn't let up too much though as I clocked the first mile in 5:33. Ha. It's been quite a while since I've run a mile that fast. Despite that being much faster than a 5k pace I'm capable of right now, it felt so effortless. It was great. With a good bit of room to work with under my goal time, I basically just tried to hang on the rest of the way.
Around the turn around, I passed 1 runner from the group ahead of me. I could tell he was slowing big time after the first mile and he really fell off after I passed him. My pace slowed quite a bit the last two miles. I had no answer for some of the hills and was a little disappointed that I wasn't able to hold on a little longer. The race had a pretty great turnout, but I stayed in 4th the remainder of the time and finished in 18:42, running miles 2 & 3 in 6:1x with a finish on the track.
My splits were definitely not what I had planned, but overall I can't complain with my finish time. That's not much slower than a typical 5k in high school for me, and less than a minute slower than my PR. I've got a long way to go, but I've also got a great start to build on.
Got Grit 5k
4th/295, 1st Place 20-24