Monday, September 14, 2009

5K- Difference between fast and mediocre

2009 North Hills 5K

The clock read "18:55", and I thought, "Holy crap."
I was approaching the finish line of the North Hills 5K in Raleigh, about to throw up.
"I could break 19 minutes! That would be fast*!"
So I sprinted to the finish line, with my eyes scanning beyond it, looking for a bucket to place the contents of my stomach.

*I use the word "fast" in a the technical sense, as defined by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). They have a standardized chart used to gage performance in a 5K. I have reproduced the one for men below:

IAAF Men's 5K performance ranking
19:00 and aboveAverage guy
18:00 - 18:59Fast
17:00 - 17:5940 year olds who were on the collage track team
16:00 - 16:59Insufferable skinny cross country team teenagers
15:00 - 15:59Guys who work at the shoe store
14:00 - 14:59Guy at the shoe store named Bobby who sold me my
"Asics Gel Pillow Plodders with roll bar and built in iPod."
13:00 - 13:59Targets of doping investigation
13:00 and belowEast Africans who grew up without shoes

As a runner, I am in the "Average guy" class, and I am proud of that. Back in high school, I was always the last kid picked for the team in gym class, so acheiving the heights of cardiovascular mediocrity is a quite an accomplishment for me.
And now here I was, with the title of "Fast" only several nauseating steps away. As I crossed the finish line the clock read "19:01". This distracted my stomach enough that it forgot about vomiting, at least until I considered the hot dogs being served.

I still held out hope for a sub 19, because 19:01 was just my "gun time". This race used timing chips, so my actual "chip time" could be a few seconds less! Then I could brag, and say "Yeah, I ran an 18... something. ".
I had to wait until the next day, constantly checking for the final results online, until I finally got my result: 19:00

Ug. One second away from being fast. Should have just took it easy and had a hot dog.

More pictures here.

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