It’s easy to dismiss a 5K as an easy race. The distance of 3.1 miles is only 20% longer than my average weekday run. But yesterday’s race was far more challenging than my standard 4:00 AM run. For one thing, I’m not performance focused at that hour and hardly ever break 9:00 per mile during the week. I might get there near the end but these morning runs are more about movement and maintenance. A 5K is about speed.
It had been eleven days since I donated a pint of blood at work and I’m wondering if that was still affecting me as I raced along the course. I made some mistakes in my preparation — I probably ingested too much caffeine and not enough water — but I didn’t suffer from oxygen debt throughout the race. My energy level was good but not optimal. There was a point in the race where I was moving along, probably at around an 8:20 pace, and a small group of runners passed me together. I thought at that moment “Why are they moving faster than me?” My legs were cranking but my cadence was probably slower. I tried to increase turnover but it didn’t make much of a difference.
I’m sure that if I had done speed work in the last month I’d have been more competitive on Sunday. My focus on base runs surely helped me because I felt solid even though I was running at paces that were close to a minute faster than on my training runs. Overall, I managed to beat 71% of those in my age division and 66% of the field so even on the day after the race I’m still pleased with my performance.