Race Report: Superior Stocking Run 5k

Saturday Dan and I ran a local 5k. This was the third time I’ve attempted to beat him in a 5k (first in 2009, and again in 2010). I guess three times is a charm. Spoiler alert: I did it! I finally beat him!

If you know me at all or if you’ve visited my blog before (come here often?), you know that I love to run. I typically run three to five days a week. I do some form of exercise, whether it’s running and/or something else five to six days a week. I usually just run. Sometimes I run long, sometimes short. Sometimes it’s a track workout, sometimes it’s a tempo workout. Sometimes it’s hill repeats. If I am training for an event, I map out my workout plans in advance. (Sometimes one minute in advance, sometimes one month in advance, depends). After I run, I log my miles in a journal and describe the route, how I felt, how long it took, and how much distance I covered (either exactly or estimated). Sometimes I talk about the conditions, what I ate, or how I slept the night before. I might note what I wore; if it chafed, if the improper combination of capris and underwear led to a major wedgie malfunction, whatever. I love to read about running. I love to talk about running. I love to watch other runners.  I am not ashamed to say I am a running geek. If I could win a race against Dan based on love of or commitment to running, he wouldn’t even bother showing up. Alas, this is not the case.

Because what Dan lacks in drive, he makes up for in talent. He ran in high school and college. Now his workout regimen may include zero to three 20 to 30 minute workouts per week, whether that is fast walking on the treadmill, a bike ride, or strength training. He also does a lot of yard work and hiking in the summer. Lately he’s been lifting Sweet Pea in the air. His “training plan” starts typically on the day I convince him to sign up for a 5k with me. Then he has about three to five weeks to get in shape. He might run anywhere from one to two miles at a time, at no particular pace. Though I did note him adding in some crazy sprints the other day. While Sweet Pea napped, he got on the treadmill while I rode the trainer in our basement. I pretended I wasn’t intimidated but the treadmill appeared to be on the verge of collapse when he threw in a few bursts of 10 miles per hour pace.  If we are being generous, he might have run about six miles (total, not per day, or even per week) in the month leading up to the Moore vs. Moore showdown. So why was I worried? Because Dan has no problem busting out a fast 5k despite his crash “training” programs, leaving me in the dust.

When the race started, I made sure to stay on Dan’s shoulder. Although the pace he set was a bit aggressive for me, I didn’t care. I couldn’t give up before the first mile. I did let him pull away a bit but I kept him within a few feet. I was tempted to just run my own race but it was too early to give up. I snuck behind tall people, hoping Dan wouldn’t see me with just a quick glance over his shoulder.

Where I normally size up the female competition and decide who deserves to be passed, on this chilly Saturday morning, the only person in the universe that mattered to me was Dan. And not in a romantic way.

By the time we hit the first mile mark, I had caught up to him. My watch read 6:45, which was way too fast but there was a huge descent at the beginning.  At that point, I let Dan get slightly ahead of me again, still keeping him in close range. As we hit the next uphill, I caught up to him. I realized that I had to narrow the gap because if it came down to a sprint finish, there was no hope for me. The only way I could win would be to establish a lead well before the final quarter mile.  It would have to be enough to totally demoralize if at all possible.

As we ascended the hill, we ran side by side, my footsteps matching his. In my mind, I was Shalane Flanigan and he was Kara Goucher (or was I Kara and he was Shalane? It took a while to decide, but they say blondes have more fun so I went with my original instinct and decided to pretend to be Shalane).

See how Shalane is just a little ahead and Kara is struggling to keep up? That’s me and Dan, basically. Minus the abs, the professional spandex, the fame, and the Nike sponsorship. Same difference.

I would not run any faster than I had to at this point. I could hear his breathing growing more and more ragged. As we crested the hill and the road flattened somewhat, I surged ahead. I continued to maintain my pace until I was pretty sure he was out of range. I didn’t dare look back, lest he sense my fear. I just kept running scared to the finish line.

There were a few sharp turns in the last quarter mile when I was sure he was about to catch me. At one point, I was sure I could practically feel him breathing down my neck, but thankfully that was just my paranoia talking. Not knowing if he was 2 inches or 200 yards behind me, I kept my foot on the proverbial gas, felt the sensation that perhaps I was on the verge of puking as I neared the finish chute, and crossed the line in 23:06 (7:27/mile pace).  Dan finished less than 30 seconds later.

I am very pleased with my performance in this race. This was a really hard course, where you were either going up or down almost the whole time. It was an altitude PR for me and it was good for 11th in the 30-34 age group and 36th female.

I think this is the first time I’ve run a 5k and a 10k in the same season, both at altitude and both at roughly equivalent fitness levels. Runners: Is it normal for your 10k pace and your 5k pace to be just 12 seconds apart? My training partner/running guru/former sub 3 hour marathon friend (I have to say former because if it was current she would certainly not be running with me), says it’s normal so I have to believe it. It just seems crazy that one could run double the distance at such a similar pace! Anyone know the physiology behind that?

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