Is there a better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than with a quick 5K before lunch on the 4th of July? Besides kicking back a few beverages and barbequing, I don’t think there is.
I planned to head down to the Lake Forest 5K on the 4th to market Triathica’s membership specials and hand out some free training zone assessment coupons. The day before the race I realized it would be hard for me to not participate in the festivities, so I signed up.
Not wanting to run alone, I tried to find some people to do it with me. The best I could get was a “maybe” from one of my friends who is not exactly the most athletic person I know — no worries. When I called race morning, I was able to change the maybe into, “Sigh…I’ll meet you at the parking lot in 15 minutes…grumble…grumble.”
I arrived at the Ralphs parking lot next to the race a little after 6 a.m. After a few Triathica marketing activities, I was ready to head down to the starting line to get my bib and race chip. I saw a few people I recognized, but not as many as I thought I was going to see having lived in Lake Forest my whole life.
After standing around for a while I was contemplating whether or not the beers the night before were a good idea, then the gun went off. Actually, I didn’t hear anything, but people started moving so I followed.
I think I underestimated how slow my friend was. After a few seconds moving at a snails pace I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided to just go for it and turned it into a workout and a good time-trial benchmark. I darted to the outside and began passing people. The first part of the course was just under a mile long and slightly downhill. I love downhill.
I felt great for the first mile, I think I easily ran sub-6 and the only people ahead of me were all the 120-pound cross-country kids from El Toro High School, one or two girls, and a dude in a dog costume.
He had to have been a cross-country runner because the dog was flying. I’m pretty sure he ended up beating me, which is pretty embarrassing, oh well.
The rest of the race went pretty well. I slowed down a bit on a long uphill section, but made up most of the ground I had lost on the downhill. There was a girl in front of me most of the time that I was determined to pass, but didn’t want to make my move too soon. Typical man, right?
We came around the last turn on what I thought was the home stretch. I kept looking ahead to see if there were any more turns or detours we had to make. Then it looked like some people were veering right onto another detour from the finish line. I didn’t have a watch on, but it felt like it should have just been straight to the finish line from there.
My eyes must have been playing tricks on me because there was no turn, just about 800 meters until the finish. Time to turn on the boosters. I managed to pass probably around 10 people in the final stretch. One guy I recognized from high school tried to match my speed. I knew for a fact he was a cross-country runner back in the day and he still looked in good shape, but somehow I was able to hold him off.
I crossed the finish line but did not get a look at the time and had no watch. A guy came up behind me and thanked me for pushing him hard. I guess we had gone back and forth the whole race and my final surge helped him push himself harder. He said his time was around 19:40 so I figured I was in the 19:30 range.
After more marketing duties, I left to go run some errands. I kept thinking about my time and knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for them to post the results online. I decided to swing back by the race and check it out. They were already halfway through the award ceremony and I strolled over to look at the standings.
Jarrett Pflieger – Div (3)
3rd place? Could this be right? This was my first 5K, how could I possibly have made the podium? I waited around for the ceremony to end and walked up to the announcers. I asked to see the award standings for 20-24 year olds. Somehow the winner’s time didn’t show up on the initial results printout I was looking at. I ended up taking 4th and missing out on a medal by less than 30 seconds. Bummer.
Overall I was very happy with my time (19:33) and pace (6:18). I plan to ramp up my training for the Pacific Coast and OC Triathlons and hopefully improve my run splits. Can’t wait for my next 5K to test how my training is coming along!