Last Saturday, July 17, I raced in the Rockville Twilight Runfest 8k. This is one of the largest races in the DC metro area with over 2,300 participants and a high-quality, competitive field. The course had rolling hills and one 180 degree switchback turn which helped slow down the times.
The race is 8 kilometers, or just shy of 5 miles, and is billed a Twilight race because it starts at 8:45pm. My goals for this race were to race aggressively and try to break 26 minutes. Realistically, I would have been happy with anything under 26:45 or under my 8k PR of 26:19 set in 2005.
The race didn’t work out like I had envisioned, mostly because of the heat. I found it very difficult to push the pace when I felt like I was overheating. Even at 9pm, it was over 80 degrees and felt very humid. There were also technical difficulties at the start, delaying the gun for an addition ten minutes. Most of that time was spent just standing there on the line.
When the gun finally went off and the race started, I set a quick but controlled pace because of the heat. My original plan of “race your ass off until the third mile and then let Jesus take over” wasn’t going to work in these conditions. I progressively slowed, feeling worse and more overheated, until the end of the race.
Since it was such a large race, I had a lot of runners with me from start to finish. This helped a lot mentally and kept me in the race more than if I were alone. Especially during the last mile, I was able to pass several runners.
Race officials had set up misting stations near every mile marker and I ran through two of them. It was frustrating because after the water cooled me down I felt great and was able to pick up the pace, but that didn’t last long. I was soon roasting again and struggled to run fast.
While there wasn’t a clock or marker at the 5k mark, I probably went through 3.1 miles in roughly 16:50-16:55. This is one sign of vast improvement as I had just run 17:30 for 5k at the end of May and 18:13 a week later at the end of a triathlon (you can read about those races here).
My mile splits for the Twilight 8k were:5:16 5:27 (10:43 for two miles) 5:34 (16:17 for three miles) 5:48 (22:05 for four miles) 5:19 (27:24 for 8k)
My overall mile pace is 5:31 – keep in mind that 8,000m is slightly shorter than 5 miles. Even though I ran under 27:30, my overall pace is slower than 5:30.
During the last mile I picked it up but don’t be fooled – it was mostly downhill. I was trying to stay in control and did not want to put in 100% effort. I didn’t want to get really sore because I was saving myself for my long run the next day. But as of two days after the race, I’m still very sore…
While I’m not happy with this race, there are a lot of things that can be changed to help me run faster in the future. For starters, I’m probably not going to run a PR when it’s so hot outside. I also did not prepare specifically for this race and was pretty tired. During the 4 day block of training from Sunday – Wednesday before the race I ran 56 miles – or 14 miles per day.
I’m thinking of jumping into a 5k this weekend on the 24th to get more race experience. If I want to run well on August 14th during the 10 miler, I need to mentally prepare for racing by racing more.
Did any of you race this weekend? How did it go? Any thoughts on my race?