On Saturday, October 2 I raced in the Bertucci’s 5k in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC. The course was an out and back that started near the Legg Mason Classic tennis stadium and went straight downhill onto Beach Drive. It was very scenic and included a section of Beach Drive that I normally run as part of my “tempo loop.”
The race started at 8:30 and was conveniently only about 15 minutes from my house. I drove down at 7:15 with my fiancée Meaghan and picked up our race numbers as we drank our pre-race coffee. When we got our race packets, I was surprised (and disappointed) to see that they weren’t going to use chip timing.
Two of my friends also joined us for the race, probably because of the Bertucci’s feast afterward. One of them was the co-captain with me of our high school cross country team, but has since stopped running competitively.
I started to warm up at 7:45 and did a modified Cannonball routine and a shortened lunge matrix. I headed out for a 20 minute run and ran one minute of it at tempo pace from 18-19 minutes. After changing into my Gel Hyper Speeds I did 5 strides and jogged to the starting line.
Racing the Bertucci’s 5k
After a brief survey of the runners at the front of the starting line, I got the impression that I wouldn’t have too much competition in this race. It was its first year and races usually aren’t that competitive when they’re brand new. The gun fired and I made a concerted effort to take a few slow steps to gauge how the other runners started.
Nobody went out too fast so I started moving ahead of the lead group. Within 50 meters, I was out in front and nobody was following. We took a left into Rock Creek Park and started a sharp, winding descent into the park. I ran fairly easy on the downhill because I didn’t want to bang up my legs too hard.
At the bottom of the hill we took a left onto Beach Drive and ran one section of my tempo loop that I usually run. I hit the first mile in 5:01 feeling comfortable and I looked behind me to see if any other runners were close. I couldn’t see anybody within 200 meters.
I was disappointed to have no competition so I settled into what seemed like tempo pace or maybe slightly faster. I hit the halfway point, took a sharp 180 degree turn, and cruised through the second mile in 5:21 to hit two miles in 10:23. I knew the third mile would be slow because of the enormous hill coming up but I was OK with that. At this point, I wasn’t running for time.
Admittedly, I dogged the uphill. I was thinking about how I wanted to have a solid long run the next day and blasting nearly a half-mile uphill was not conducive to that. I crested the top of the hill and put in a good surge the last 250 meters to finish in 16:21 (or so I thought).
The official results say I ran 16:41, despite the clock and an official both telling me 16:21. C’est la vie. I’m not that concerned about the time I ran – it was a fun race.
Recovery…and Giggles the Clown
After the race I immediately changed out of my racers and into my ASICS DS-Trainers and ran for 20 minutes to warm-down. I did some leg swings afterward, had some great Bertucci’s food, and spent some time with my friends. But all of a sudden a middle-aged woman dressed as a clown interrupted us and talked to me for nearly 15 minutes. She was fit for a straight-jacket, but luckily I got her card so I may be hiring her in the future.
Later in the afternoon I did two sets of my standard core routine (see here) to shake out any kinks in the legs. I tried to nap, but I wasn’t able to sleep – probably because of the coffee. It’s a double-edged sword, but I enjoy it too much to give it up completely.
One lesson learned from this race is that if it’s not a goal race, there’s no competition, and the course will preclude you from running a personal best, I’m of the opinion that you should save your legs for the next day’s workout. It’s not worth running hard so you trash your legs.