Lumberjack Days was last weekend in Stillwater. Stillwater is a historic town once thought to be on the outer edge of the Twin Cities metro but now considered a suburb and like my hometown of Hastings both are river communities and excellent summer spots. Back in the day Lumberjack Days meant we’d hop in a boat and cruise north along the St. Croix River to enjoy a night of fun with the guys. Music, late nights, drinking, etc.; the sort of fun that isn’t as much fun as you get older and even the consideration of that ‘fun’ generates a headache.
Well, apparently Lumberjack Days also exists during the day! Who knew?! And part of the festivities are a 5K and a 10 miler. Even though many of my run buddies were doing these races I did not plan on it. With the Pikes Peak ascent coming up I have been working under the pretense that I can not run the trails at Hyland enough and planned to do a double loop there on Saturday. However the body has shown me a different path yet again as all those uneven trails, ruts, and foot shuffles have brought a nasty left quad issue which tugged and wrenched on my knee to such a degree that I had to take off three days from running. So off the advice of some folks I am taking a hill break and to make a long story shorter but yet not short I signed up for the 5K.
My goal was to see where I was at right now. I’ve been building up the base miles over the past few weeks after a light June and have yet to reach the weekly mileage I am looking to settle in at. With the last race being the Fargo marathon I wasn’t expecting a rockstar performance but then again there had been some solid track workouts that were focused on the shorter stuff and getting the fast-twitch fibers back in the game. The expectation was that I’d have the turnover and speed but maybe lack the fitness for a solid race.
With Kelly was out of town I had to take care of the pooch and ended up behind schedule and not picking up my packet until the last of the buses were loading to bring runners to the start of the point-to-point course. The packet pickup was chaos and one of the worst I’ve ever seen. The directions were to pick up your packet by bib number but the signs alerting folks to which line they should enter were hidden by the lines. The pickup took a solid 15 minutes and it looked like a solid warmup wouldn’t be happening that day. Then I saw Rob and we met after the packet pickup and we ran to the start for our warmup (good thinking Rob). Race start was coming so I put in a few drills and maybe two strides and went to the start. My legs were not feeling loose or good and the while it wasn’t hot it was humid enough to have me already soaked and slightly uncomfortable.
Rob and I wished Brian good luck and settled back further in the pack and found Shawn and Nicole. Race plan was this. Rob was going to pace me to a sub 19 and I was hoping Shawn would be there with us; first mile at a 6:10 and then hammer. This was damn exciting. When I broke 20 minutes in the 5k for the first time Brian paced me and now Rob was pacing me; another reason I love running with these people.
Gun. Start. Away we go, the first mile is a descending one and the pace is quickening. I tend to run too fast on that first mile, suffer the second, and fight back on the third; I would guess this is common. First mile shows a 5:58 on my watch. So the good news is we’ve gained 12 seconds on the race plan, thrown that in the bank and we are feeling okay. The bad news is that I know I’ve just thrown 12 seconds in the bank and nothing is free! The legs are suffering already and Rob has activated his jet-pack and is taking off. My thought here is to keep Rob in sight, focus on form, fight, and hope Shawn is right there with me.
But it got worse. Ouch. I was struggling and mile two was as 6:17, a full 19 seconds slower. Granted it ascended a bit but still I was dejected and figured a sub 19 was out. I also considered pulling up there and coasting in as I was spent but I trudged along and then looked down at my watch, less than a mile to go so I started focusing. 0.6 miles, 0.5 miles, you get it and I started thinking about track workouts and running an 800 is all I have to do and picked up the pace. Third mile in 6:05! I have a chance but then the last tenth was across a grass common area that was damp and slower than the road and I slowed until seeing the club, hearing encouragement and trying to push it that last tenth (5:10 pace) a hundred yards out or so I saw I was actually near 19, shocked I pushed again and the clock read 19:01 as I crossed. I was a little disheartened but loved the fight I showed when I wanted to quit. I glanced at my watch and 18:57! Boom! New PR baby.