This was my first 5k since December when I did the Say No To Drugs 5k in Clearwater, where I could not get under 22:00. So, it was good to take a chance and sign up for this race as well as asking if Thomas wanted to run this one as well (we both ran the Turkey Trot, where I ended up having a decent time there "in the 20:00's").
It was lucky that the weather was a little better than usual, relatively "cool" for a June race in Florida and it's a mostly shaded course, pretty flat but a few very small hills which prevent it from being overly flat. Warmed up by walking from the car to registration, then back to the car, then back to the race area and then did about 0.6 miles easy jogging and a few strides. I saw lots of people I knew and it was great to be surrounded by so many friends.
The race started like it always does, packed into the starting area, just waiting for the horn to sound. I was a couple rows back from the very front. Thomas was farther up with his high school friends. For the first half mile, the crowd thinned out into a long line with gaps between small groups of runners. I slowly caught up to (Magic Pants) Robin (wasn't sure if I would - he's been chipping away at his times despite the increasing age (now 68). His wife Pat has been doing the marketing for this race, now 11 years in a row.
I was feeling better than I had been in a while, holding my pace just under 7:00. I think the beet juice shot I had done at 6:00 was helping.
Thomas was nowhere to be seen. Last year, I was trailing him, slowly caught him and eventually passed him, but not this year, he was way up ahead someplace I was pretty sure.
As I approached mile 2, I was on track for a few seconds over 7:00 pace. I decided that wasn't going to happen, even if it meant slowing down for mile 3. Made it under in 6:56, relaxed a little and saw my pace slip. But the race had other plans. There were still people ahead of me that I was following and people behind me that I knew would pass me if they could - people I had passed and were hoping to pass me back.
I slowly got back my pace, coming back from a slow down to 7:30ish, to almost breaking 7:00, hitting mile 3 at exactly 7:00. It was a straight shot to the finish line and I ran the last 0.1 at a 5:40 pace. A guy who had been wanting to pass me shook my hand after the race congratulating me on how I took off at the end.
My friend Daisy had run the 10K that morning and was cheering on the finishers. I asked her if she'd seen Thomas. She had seen him finish and thought she saw about 17:50 on the clock.
His actual time was 17:48 (about a 2 1/2 minute improvement from this race last year and a new PR by about 35 seconds). The two top finishers were guys in their mid 20's with times of 15:51 and 16:13, followed by another high schooler (not from Mitchell) named John who was a second behind 2nd place guy. Then there about a 1:30 gap with Tom at the lead of all of the other high schoolers (the next 10 finishers).
So, overall, I could not have been happier with this race. I feel like I'm ready to race again, I had a lot of fun, and Tom had a big jump in time from his last 5k as well as over his fastest 5k.
Finished off the running morning with a lap around my neighborhood so I'd have over 6 miles for the day.