For all of us that failed to make the journey to Berlin over the weekend, there were other high profile races being held. Although I doubt the Gilbert Creek 5K in Grants Pass, Oregon was one of them. Nonetheless, it was an important race for several reasons. It was the first since my Marathon in early August and I wanted to see if the long race had impacted my fast twitch muscle fibers. It was also one in which I was expecting to PR. What's more, since taking up running seriously I had not run a 5k. I ran several 5Ks when I was thirteen, the best of the lot being an 18:14 effort. Not bad for a thirteen year old, but I would hope that in eleven years time that I would have improved, however slightly.
Before I continue I think it's important to stick up for the 5k as a race distance. The 5K is not less significant or more significant than a 100 meter dash, a half marathon or a 50 mile race. Due to the fact that the 5K is the shortest road race commonly held, it has the potential to be viewed as a "beginner" event. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any race that is, well, raced is difficult. Although certain races may take longer to recover from that does not make them inherently more challenging or legitimate.
That said, let's get down to the details. I warmed up with some strides and sprints. The 5K is a short enough distance that you don't have much time to correct for a slow start. I wanted to make sure that I was prepared to leave the gates guns a blazing. We lined up and I found myself primarily surrounded by youngsters. I guess many of the adults in the field were not planning to vie for top position. The air horn was soon blown and I was off. I started really fast, sprinting the first 250 meters or so on the gentle downhill before quickly catching up with the reality of my cardiovascular conditioning. I had to slow a bit to catch my breath, however I had already gapped the field and the bicycle pacer and I were a couple of lonely figures out on the road. The first mile and a half or so were largely composed off a gentle uphill grade. I was working hard. I didn't feel as though I was going particularly fast, but I was moving as fast as I could. Once we turned a corner and we were headed back downhill to end at the local middle school track I just tried to relax. At this point in the race I felt like I was moving pretty well.