After suffering through a pretty nasty 24hr stomach bug on Thursday, which forced me to bail on a planned jog up Towers Road with the trail running group, I got out for my first post-Western run on Friday with five rolling miles on the local trails at Horsetooth. The legs felt no worse than they might have after a heavy week of training, and felt even better on a trip up to the summit of Horsetooth yesterday (although still a little sore on the way down), so I figured I'd jump into the FireKracker 5k today and join 1,000 other Fort Collins locals in the biggest event of the year for my local running club.
I was surprised to see Justin Mock, my pacer from Western States and this year's top American in London (2:29), milling around at the start as I was helping get a few last minute details for the race squared away. He was one of a few speedy road types who'd been lured to the race by the $1,000 purse. I told him that under no circumstances would this be considered a scoring event in our 2010 three-race series - which is beginning to look somewhat doubtful after the cancellation of the Horsetooth event three weeks ago. Besides, the only one that really counts is on the Big Hill in August, and I'm starting to like my chances there.
After a week of 90 degree temps, the weather this morning was wet, overcast and a little on the chilly side, which was a welcome relief. Just minutes before the off, there was a heavy but short downpour, which made the course a little slick but other than that we had pretty much perfect running conditions.
Having no idea how my legs would respond to the up-tempo speed of a 5k race, I got out at a reasonably conservative pace and settled in about 20 runners off the lead pace. Charles Hilig, a Kenyan guy from Greeley and the eventual winner (Logan Kanode, 15:19) set a strong pace up front and I watched Justin ease off at a pace that looked to be about 10-15 seconds stronger than mine. Once all the early sprinters had faded, I settled in behind Tim Hebert (who beat me at Sierra's 5k a few months ago on a very windy day in Loveland), and it looked like I was sitting somewhere in the low teens overall.
With a goal of going sub-17 (for a 16-hour Western and 16-minute 5k in the span of 8 days), I was a little disappointed to see the first mile split at 5:24, as I typically split the first mile of a 5k 10 to 15 seconds faster than the second two. Moving through the second mile, I knew the sub-16 was going to be a long shot as the legs were working way too hard for what felt like a painfully slow pace; however, it split at 5:38 which meant I was still vaguely in the hunt if I could stay strong and come up with a last mile in or around 5:30. I certainly wasn't giving up on it and pushed hard, but my legs just had nothing to give. The 5:34 third mile was a bit of a surprise, but with the uphill finish, I knew there was no way I was going to close the last .1 out in the needed 24 seconds, so cruised in for a relatively comfortable 17:17.
Although I swear I'm good for a 16:xx 5k, this run actually goes into the books as a 5k PR. So that would be a 100-mile PR and a 5k PR in the space of a week. I'll take it.
To cap off a fun morning, Alistair ran an enthusiastic and smile-filled quarter mile race in the main event, so two finish lines in the last eight days for him too.
Time now to start thinking about the two upcoming races on Pikes.