Saturday, May 14, 2011

5K on the Runway at PTI

The Runway at PTI was hillier than expected.
Landings there must be a little rough

This morning Shannon and I headed to the Greensboro to run the 5K on the Runway at PTI airport to achieve the following goals:

  • Continue my experiment to determine if doing nothing but running a hard race once a week is an effective treatment for degenerative, arthritic knees. 
  • Hopefully run a fast time on an easy course to boost our self esteem
  • Meet up with our blogging friends Iris and Josh

I contemplate whether being sucked into a jet turbine would be
more or less painful than the last mile of a 5K. Toss up.
The race is literally on the runway at the PTI airport, which promised a PR course: flat, fast, and straight.
We parked and took the shuttle over, which was quick and convenient.
Bib pickup required showing your passport, enduring an invasive cavity search and some intense questioning by the TSA, but we did got a nice tote bag out of it.

Before the race, Josh cured me of leprosy
We met Iris and Josh, and I warmed up a little to get the handful of Tylenol I had gulped down to work it's way down to my knees. I promised my legs that I would rest and rehab this summer, if they just would get me through these next 2 races.

Lining up at the start Josh and I had the same plan: Go out at a flat 6:00 min/mile pace, and hold onto it as long as possible. He was hoping for his first sub 19:00 5K. I was hoping to be able to keep up with him.

With a blow from an air horn we were off. With the wide runway, people spread out and there was plenty of running room.

After a minute, I looked at my Garmin 305 for running instructions. I am lost without it, especially in a 5K where pacing by feel is difficult for me. On the open, straight course, I knew it would be accurate.
And it was saying 5:45 pace. Too fast! "Whoa!" I called to Josh as he sped ahead in his bare feet.

I slowed some as the pace dropped to 6:05, but it still felt way too hard for the first mile. My legs felt heavy and tired and a sub 19 didn't seem possible.

Looking ahead I saw Josh pulling away, and I thought what all shod runners think: "I can't let the barefoot guy beat me!"
So I pushed ahead to catch up to him, gasping for air. He dropped behind me and we hit the turn around.
Suddenly it felt easier. I think the runway was on a slight slope, and now we were going down it. The wind was in our faces now, so I tucked behind a big guy wearing headphones. I might have imagined it, but it seemed to make a difference.

The big guy was constantly spitting however, and I had to keep dodging left and right as the loogies whizzed by. I wondered if he knew I was drafting off him and he didn't like it.

Finally I took the hint and ran around him. I could see the finish line in the distance, but I seemed not to be getting any closer. My watch reported a 6:00 avg pace, which made me happy, but I was struggling to hold on. The last mile of a 5K is kind of mental and physical torture, but seeing the finish line the whole time makes it somehow worse.

The fruit smoothie I had made for breakfast 3 hours before suddenly announced it's plans for a reappearance, so I let up slightly to cross the finish in 18:38. Not a PR, but I'm very happy with it.

After the 5K, Josh entered the kids 100 yard dash
 and trampled several children. 

Josh crossed a few seconds behind me, setting a PR and breaking 19 with an 18:56. Yes, in his bare feet.
He also beat everyone wearing Vibrams.
He would be the first to tell you that just because it works for him does not mean everyone should run barefoot. However, just think about this the next time the guy at the shoe store tries to sell you some expensive high tech shoes.

Overall it was a pretty neat race, and a great one to do if you are looking for fast 5K.

Rest of Shannon's pictures are here.