The Santa Scramble has the distinction of being the first race that Linda and I have run for four straight years, partly because we’ve only been running for a little over three years, but it’s one of those races we look forward to every year because it’s one of the most fun, and also because it’s arguably the fastest 5k in the Charlotte area. Just as in the previous three years, today’s race was once again my fastest 5k of the year, an all-time Personal Record of 19:42, being only the second time I’ve run a 5k in under 20 minutes, with the first time being my race here in 2009 when I ran 19:51. And just for the record, Linda ran her all-time 5k PR here today as well!
Note: I originally posted my time in this race as 19:40 (the clock actually read 19:39 as I crossed the finish line). However, when the official results were posted it said that my time was 19:42, so I’ve made adjustments to my original post.
I’ve been doing my best running ever this fall and in the past couple months I’ve had an all-time PR in the half marathon, the 10k, and the 15k, so I thought I had a chance to get a new 5k PR here. I’ve learned though that’s it’s not always so easy to run your fastest race ever just because you think you should. There are always things getting in the way of running perfection, and last week was a bad week for my diet. Even running 40 miles a week I have to count points on the Weight Watchers diet so I don’t gain weight because I really like to eat — excessively so really — so when my friend Brian Trotter started a new thread in our Facebook page having people guess what my time would be, it added a whole new level of pressure. I don’t think anybody really gives a flip, but at least in my own mind I felt like I needed to get that 5k PR if possible. Next year I’ll be 60, and maybe I’ll be faster then, but there’s probably a better chance that I’ll be slower, so this was the time and the race to do it.
I had a plan, as always, to run according to my heart rate. The plan was to build my heart rate up until I reached 170 beats per minute (bpm). That’s a little higher than normal for me but only by about 5 beats per minute. Still, 5 bpm can make a big difference in a race. The first 2.5 miles or so of this race is pretty flat, with just some gentle up and down slopes of maybe a degree or two. Hardly anything that can be called a hill. Then at about the 2.5 mile mark in the race there’s a big downhill that’s almost a half mile long that takes you to within about a tenth of a mile to the finish line, and there’s a little bit of an uphill there. I knew that in order to get a PR I would need to maintain my 170 heart rate as I ran down that half-mile hill. That’s not as easy as it sounds. If you think about it, it’s much easier to run uphill and get a higher heart rate since the added stress of going uphill makes your heart work harder. Conversely, as you’re going downhill your heart ordinarily takes a break and beats more slowly because it’s not working as hard. In order to beat my PR I knew I would have to make better time going down that hill than my body would naturally want to go. To maintain the 170 heart rate I would have to work harder and run harder just to keep the same amount of exertion. I hope that makes sense… it did to me.
I never look at my pace or time in a race, and it wouldn’t have helped me today anyway since the race started surprisingly quickly and I wasn’t able to get my Garmin running until at least a quarter mile into the race. As I made the last turn I looked for the clock at the finish line and it was right around 19:30. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to make it to the finish line so I gave it all I had, wanting to at least beat my previous PR of 19:51, and as I crossed the finish line the clock read 19:40 (actually 19:39, but later the official results said 19:42). That was pretty exciting, especially knowing that I may never see a time like that again. But ya never know. I’ll be back.
7 – 1-10 Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
10 – 1-10 Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
6 – 1-10 Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
5 – 1-10 Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10 T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 4/6 Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
0 – 0/5 Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6 Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
3 – 3/7 Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
10 – 1-10 Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
4 – 1-10 Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10 Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10 Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5 Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
4 – 1-10 Bathroom Facilities
5 – 0-10 Other (5 extra points for awards going 5 deep in age groups!)
TOTAL – 94
Age Group: 2 of 8
Overall: 37 of 594