PR at Firefly 5k Phoenix & Race Report

The morning started with a relaxed 1000 meter swim at Lifetime Fitness. Shelly and Lori were to join me, but they dropped out. This was followed by an easy 20-minute run on the treadmill with 3 30-second sprints. This was followed by a nap!

The Firefly 5k 2012 was a PR for me at 20:05. I had little hopes of eclipsing it because last year had perfect cool conditions. This year, the temperature was approaching 90 degrees.

Kim and I before the race (Firefly Phoenix 5k – 2013)

I picked up Kim and met up with Brett, Zach, Maury and Laura at the race at around 6:30PM. Nali was absent this year as he is nursing a knee injury. After donning various neon lights (I had an arm-band and a couple of lights on my shoes; thanks to Laura and Maury) and eating my customary stinger waffle about 15 minutes before the race start, we walked over to the starting line.

Race Report – Firefly 5k Phoenix

The plan was to race the first mile in 6:35, the second in 6:25 and the third in 6:20. That would put me at 19:20 with about 150 yards left. If I could hang on, I would beat the 20-minute mark. I decided to race without my music. “Running is music,” I have read somewhere. It was time to try that theory.

The gun went off promptly at 7:30PM. Kim and I were in the first group of runners. The wind was blowing at about 10 MPH from the south-west.

The First Mile: Kim and I took off together. She is faster than me; hence my job was to hang on to her for the first mile and see how far I can push myself. The start was smooth with virtually zero weaving around people. The wind was against us for the entire first mile. Every 30 seconds or so, I would check my pace. 6:32; 6:31; 6:30 per mile. Perfect. We took a left turn and were still going against the wind when we finished the first half-a-mile. Another left and then a series of turns; and now we were going with the wind. Our pace quickened to 6:25; and on to 6:20 for the second half of the first mile. We did it at a 6:17 pace. I was still hanging on to Kim’s pace and felt good.

The Second Mile: We passed a bunch of runners; she on the left, I on the right. We could see the leaders up ahead of us. My cadence was smooth, but I was feeling my breathing getting heavier. My pace was slowing just a bit, but managed the first half of the second mile at a 6:27 pace. We were at the half-way point when we took a couple of left turns to head back home. We were now dead against the wind through the end of the race. Can I hang on? Our pace had decidedly slowed. I told Kim that I was losing steam and that she should go on. I tried to hang on to her, but fell back by about 10 seconds. I managed the second half of the second mile at a 6:45 pace. Could I hang on? Did I have a chance of breaking 20? I had my first doubts.

The Third Mile: It was now mind over matter. My breathing was deep and heavy. “Relax and flow,” I told myself, “Dig deep. Drop your shoulders. Move your arms. Increase your cadence.” If I could hang on, I would break the 20-minute barrier. I wanted to stop and walk. I didn’t. I saw my Garmin to realize that my pace had actually quickened a bit. I did the first half of the third mile at a 6:37 pace. I continued my march. I was actually gaining on Kim. I wanted to draft someone, but there was nobody in sight. The wind felt heavy, my breathing felt heavy, my legs felt heavy. Half-a-mile seemed like an eternity. I could hear the music at the finish line. My pace for the second half of the third mile was 6:30. Not bad.

The Finish: I could now see the finish line. I saw the official timer clock. From a distance I noticed that it said 19-something. I accelerated. Kim finished in 19:37. I was a few seconds behind. 19:44. Woohoo. 5k PR for me and I came in 6th overall. Kim won the women’s division and I finished in 5th place in the men’s. Not bad!

Thank you Kim for pacing me. Thank you Bill for coaching me. Thanks to all the folks who have run with me off and on.

Leave a Reply