Stars and Stripes 5k Home Page HERE
I'm still shooting for my 6:30 PR, not to mention the ever-elusive sub-20-minute 5k.
The 2014 route starts and finishes at Summit Fair Shopping Center in Lee's Summit, Missouri. It includes three major climbs and one mini-climb.The one mini-climb starts right off the line, though is quickly followed by a long descent (that we will climb back up nearing the finish line). The first real climb comes right after the long drop, about 1k in to the race, running about 500 meters at 2.6%. Climb 2 hits at just after the halfway point, with a quarter-mile uphill at 2.7%. The biggest climb of the day will come right at the finish, though, as runners are rounding the north side of the shopping center, and lasts nearly a half-mile, but only at 3% average.
The packet pick-up was at the race site, at the Summit Fair Shopping Center. Given the distance from my hometown, and the busy-ness of July 3rd, I had a friend pick up the packets for me, so I didn't get a chance to check out the conditions of packet pick-up. Weather reports forecast gorgeous conditions for race morning: upper 60's and middle-humidity with a light breeze, so no concerns there.
The crowds quickly grew to a reported 1,000 participants, not including the spectators and the kids readying themselves for the Lil' Firecracker Fun Run that would follow the 5k. Easily-noticed was the number of individuals that appeared to be here to really compete. Of course, I still wanted to place, but my focus would be on chasing my 6:33 PR. Lining up at the start line, I made sure to stay back from the front of the pack, so as not to get trampled.
We were off just after 7:30am. The first half-mile was incredibly quick, with all runners jockeying for an aggressive position. Four immediately pushed off the front, a smaller group on their heels. I wasn't in that group. I posted a 5:52/mi first half-mile pace, rounding out the first full mile at 6:11. I was where I wanted to be pace-wise, so despite hanging around at 30 back from the front, I would just sit in and push my own pace. No placing today, it would seem.
Of note, on my course preview, I noticed a nasty looking hill that gave a steep descent at the start, and painful-looking ascent near the finish. On-course, this hill was nonexistent -- maybe a fault in the mapping elevations? Where the effort really existed was midway, just around the 2-mile mark (and where I start to fade). Either way, the course was much flatter than expected -- a nice surprise.
My watch rang "behind virtual partner" just after the 2-mile marker. I pushed as often as I could and as hard as I could (which wasn't often or hard). I ran around the back side of the shopping center, ticking off the 3-mile mark, just under 6:40/mi average. I rounded the corner on to the finishing straight, and saw sub-20-minute time up on the clock. If only I were that much closer, but I was still nearly a full tenth of a mile away. Pushing the final straight, 20 minutes came and went. I crossed at 20:34. A 6:38/mi, just off PR. Good enough for 7th in age-group, and 36th overall out of nearly 1,000 participants. The hunt for 6:33/mi (and the hunt for sub-20) continues.
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