Last night I ran in the Good Times 5k in Lowell, Massachusetts. This was the 4th race in the 10 week series that is held every Tuesday night at 7 PM in Lowell. So far I have completed every race and my intention is to complete all of the races in the series. If you take a look at my race history you will see that I have done this race quite a few times. As a matter of fact I actually checked my race history and last night was the 44th time I have completed this event.
Why do I love this event? One reason is that I hate to do track workouts. I have difficulty getting motivated to complete a hard track workout. I always thought if I am going to put out that much effort then I should be racing. To me nothing replaces the intensity both mentally and physically as competing in a road race. I have been using 5k road races as my "track workout" for years and I believe this has been a big component to my consistent performances. I really believe to do well in a 5k road race you have to be comfortable with the pain you feel during the race and have the ability to sustain that effort for all 3.1 miles. After you complete 3-4 races in the series you start to feel comfortable with the required effort and your fitness starts to improve. This is especially true if you put out a 100% effort each week regardless of your fatigue level.
Now to last night. Weather was cool and wet but the rain held off for the race. In other words the weather was perfect for running and not so perfect for socializing at Hookside Kellys afterwards. I have been starting way to fast the last few weeks so I decided to start at a more conservative pace. When you run a weekly series like this one many times you end up running near the same people each week. This week I ended up right behind a woman that I have seen each week at some point on the course. I was running a solid pace and kept pace directly behind her for over a mile. I would give you my pace but I don't typically wear a watch for 5k road races. I run as hard as I can so to me a watch is irrelevant for such a short event. Anyway if you are familiar with this race as you turn right after you cross the University Ave bridge you have a choice to run on the right side of the guard rail on the sidewalk or run in the breakdown lane of the divided highway. The woman I was running behind went for the sidewalk so I followed close behind. Things were going well until we caught up to another runner. Some areas to the right of the guardrail are a little tight and passing is difficult. I am estimating that our pace dipped about 10 seconds a mile for quite a stretch on the highway until there was room to pass. Once the road opened up I ended up passing both runners in front of me and ran strong to the finish. In hindsight the reduction in pace on the highway although frustrating may have actually given me a little "break" that enabled me to finish strong. The bottom line is that I finished in 19:13 (6:12pace) which is my best time of 2012.
Of course my brother and sister-in-law both ran a PR for the 3rd time (photo above) and picked up yet another PR medal. As usual we hydrated after the race at Hookside Kellys. Good night and a Good Time.