Today was my 5th River Bank Run 25k and my 5th PR for the race. If finished my first River Bank Run in 2005 in 2:24:56. Each following year, I plugged away at that time chipping away a few minutes each time. Last year’s time of 2:01:06, while a PR, was sort of disappointing because I didn’t get under the coveted 2 hour mark as I had hoped. This year, with my increased training regimen for the Sunburst Marathon along with extra swim and bike workouts to get ready for the summer tri season, I hoped to get under the 2 hour mark.
However, nature decided to throw a monkey wrench into the situation forcing course officials to change the course a week prior to race day. Heavy rains earlier this month flooded a portion of the course and there was no guarantee that the waters would recede before the weekend. The new course gave me doubts about meeting my goal because it would involve running a couple of extra big hills on O’Brien Ave. The new course also had a 5 miles portion where runners were going to be running in both directions which I thought might get a little crowded for a two lane road with nearly 5,000 runners. With the new course, I had to decide whether or not to race the course or to just use it as a training run for the upcoming marathon.
Come race day, rain was forecast for the morning, but the sun was peeking out when I got up at 7:00. I had my usual race morning breakfast of yogurt, banana, and water before heading out. I got downtown with plenty of time to spare and was able to watch the 5k finishers before heading over to starting line. Congrats to both my cousin and co-worker for great 5k finishes. I lined up between the 7:30 and 8:00 min pace groups still unsure whether or not I was going to attempt a race pace or just take it easy and count it as a training run. Five minutes before the scheduled start time of 8:20, the rain started to come down; lightly at first and then a down pour. Everyone was sufficiently soaked by the time the race started.
The first two miles went by in a flash. I passed the 2 mile mark at just over 14 minutes, much faster than I usually do. With the 7:30 pace group still in sight, I decided that I would keep pushing for as long as I could rather than ease back. I took the hills on O’Brien fairly slowly knowing from experience that they are very long hills and can drain you quickly. Miles 5 through 10 were the portion of the course where runners would be headed in both directions. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as crowded as I thought it might be. However, after the turn around, the runners at an 8:00 min pace or so, seemed much more packed together. The half way point was just past the turn around. When I hit it, I was still averaging a 7:30 pace and still feeling great. I kept thinking to myself that I couldn’t keep up this pace for the whole race, but kept plugging away.
Jennie was able to make it to the 10 mile mark, armed with the camera which was a nice sight to see before heading into the hills of Butterworth. Miles 10 – 13 are rolling hills with about 6 inclines and usually slow me down quite a bit. Today, though, I felt strong and cruised up the hills and coasted back down. Just after mile 13, the course heads through the zoo and then towards the final stretch downtown. My dad was at his usual spot at the end of his street. The pace I had been pushing started to catch up to me at the 14 mile mark and my legs started to tighten up on me. However, I could see the 7:30 pace group just ahead of me pulling me along. At the 1 mile to go sign, it finally sunk in that I was going to finish in under 2 hours. I knew early on that if I kept up my pace, I would be under 2 hours, but I wasn’t confident that I was going to be able to keep it up.
As I turned the corner onto Ottawa, I kicked it into high gear despite my aching quads. I had a strong finish and crossed the line at 1:55:59. I couldn’t have been happier. Not only did I get under 2 hours, but I did it by earning a 5 minute PR.
Jennie met me at the finish and we headed over to the post race party for my free beer before heading home to relax. One of these years, the weather will cooperate enough that we can hang out at the post race party longer than 5 minutes before starting to get the chills.
Another one for the books… Next up, Sunburst.