April 27, 2012

Race Report: Crystal City 5k (#4)

Two 5k races this weekend courtesy of Pacers. The first was a great happy hour run at 6:30pm on Friday, the fourth race in their Crystal Run 5k Fridays. The second race was Sunday morning up in Silver Spring, the seven-days-after-official-Earth-Day-but-that's-okay Earth Day 5k.

Race Day

Colorful neon rows of the Shoe Lab.
After volunteering for previous Crystal Runs, I knew it would be a bit hectic as more people arrived from work, so I took off early and got down to the park with plenty of time to spare. As with everything, Pacers did a great job with logistics and it was easy to get in the right line and get my bib for the evening. After that, I headed over to the Pacers Shoe Lab; as noted in a previous blog post, the Shoe Lab lets you try out race flats and lightweight shoes from Mizuno, Brooks, and Newton for free. You run the 5k in the shoes, and return them with no catch at the end. I was hoping to try out a set of Newton kicks, just because I like the company story and values, but I put myself in the "shoe lab technician's" hands and asked her what she had with a little support. I didn't want to go from my 12.1-ounce GT-2160s straight into featherweight flats. So she fit me for a pair of Brooks Pure Cadence, which are only 8.3 ounces but still offer a little support. It was a nice bonus that they were black and green; not that there's anything wrong with the loudly-colored neon flats other people wear, it's just not my style.

After rushing through sign-up and Shoe Lab, I dropped my gear at the easy bag check and turned a few warm-up laps around the building. At exactly 6:30pm, we were off, and I was instantly trying to keep focused on my form and feeling out the new shoes. The first few turns of the course are sharp and come frequently, so I got bogged down in some traffic. As we hit the access road behind some office buildings, I opened my stride up and found a nice lane along the curb. The course is a simple loop, starting in the middle of the loop, with a turn back on itself around mile 1 and mile 2.5. But the course is flat, and it is fast! The line of runners was pretty solid through the first mile, with the U-turn at mile 1 slowing the pace a bit. As the runners approached mile 2, the traffic thinned out considerably, which may not have been so beneficial since it was at this time the wind started ripping down the street through the buildings. There was nothing and no one to hide behind, it was heads down running straight into the wind. After a quick turnaround, it was back towards the finish line; the race was going much quicker than expected, even with the wind. Seeing the mile 3 marker approaching, I had visions of PRs dancing in my head, so I kicked in some reserve and crossed the line a few seconds faster than last weekend's First Flight 5k finish.

Just like every other runner who convinces themselves that there's a magic pill for faster running, I saw the new PR as a sign I should continue the test drive of the Brooks Pure Cadence for the season. So I picked up a brand new pair at the Shoe Lab; just like cars, you test drive one car hard, and then ask for a new one to be pulled around for purchase. And the best part, the Shoe Lab price was 10% off the standard retail...which will make it easier to explain to my wife why I now have two pairs of Asics, a pair of trail shoes, a pair of cycling shoes, and a new pair of Brooks in the living room corner.

The Results

5k :   19:07  |  6:09/mile

Last two photos courtesy of www.Jeffsimmagini.com.