April 29, 2012

Race Report: Earth Day 5k

Another great day of weather for the Earth Day 5k. After raining most of the night, the morning in Silver Spring was cool, crisp, and clear. It was the perfect weather for a quick 5k.

It was my first trip up to this race, and after a fast 5k on Friday, I was looking forward to pushing the pace again and seeing what happened. Just like Friday's race, the check-in process was smooth and I had plenty of time to drop a bag and warm up before the event started.

Race Day

As this was my first run on this course and I didn't look at the course map, I really didn't know what to expect. But I knew I didn't want to get caught in early-race traffic like Friday, so I edged my way up to the front few rows for the start.

The course took a quick right turn and hopped over a small hill before hitting a nice open downhill. As the road continued to fall underneath me, I knew there would be a lot of incline on the way back. I was not purposely banking time, but with a solid mile of downhill, I was 15 seconds under my planned pace after the first mile. I stayed around the top 10, and after the course swung left and under some tree canopy, I passed a couple people to improve my position. My "memorable moment" came at the halfway mark, where the course did a sharp 180-degree turn back on itself and went from the roadway to an asphalt trail.

Road rash!
After a night of rain it was damp with loose dirt on the shoulder of the road...and my Brooks Pure Cadence I bought on Friday clearly didn't come standard with traction control. As I exited my u-turn, I slid and completely wiped out, executing a great home plate slide on my left leg. I actually slid straight off the trail and into the grass bank of a stream. Though a moment of disbelief, anger, and unintended humor...I bounced up and kept on running...I was pretty sure if I stopped I'd be in some pain. Who would ever imagine my first case of road rash would happen in a running accident and not a cycling accident?

As I righted myself, the two runners in front of me extended the gap from 20 yards to a distance a bit outside my comfort zone in pursuing them. So I spent the remainder of mile 2 wiping dirt and asphalt off my forearms and hands, making sure I wasn't passed by a surprise surge from behind, and rolling through the second mile about 7 seconds under my planned race pace. I knew the last mile would be a brutal uphill, so instead of pushing the PR, I just tried to maintain a steady pace and stick with what felt sustainable. But to be honest, with the mile-long hill, I shouldn't have been worried about a PR...even without the spill.

The Results

5k :   19:14  |  6:12/mile     (Overall 7th)

The Verdict

Bonus swag, arm warmers.
In the end, it was a fantastic race and a good time, although the course wasn't the fastest and my feet weren't the surest, haha. The TNC’s Chesapeake Bay initiative was the beneficiary; even though we were running for the Eastern oyster, I was secretly hoping for beer and oysters at the end (conservation by consumption?). The National Guard had some well-timed swag, giving out arm warmers on a morning that struggled to hit 50 degrees for a while.