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Sunday, January 03, 2016

Race Recap: First on the First 5k

Sandi, me, Alex, Angie, Andrea, and Jeff. Free event photos from Cap City Sports Media

The First on the First 5k took place at 11am January, 1, 2016 in Westerville, Ohio. [The course] Alex and I have participated in this race for the past three years. My first finish was 31:20, so it's pretty cool to track progress on the same course.

The shirt is really nice.
Pre Race
We picked up our packets a few days before so we were able to roll into the race after 10. The event starts from a fantastic community center with plenty of room to warm up indoors (and bathrooms). We met our friend Angie and checked our gear before braving the cold. The race was ridiculously chilly last year and even though it was only a few degrees warmer this time, the sunshine made a huge difference.

My last 5K PR was December 2014 (26:31), but I had an unofficial PR in the middle of my recent Turkey Trot 5 miler (26:02), so while I knew I wanted to break 26:00, this course is never my fastest. For example, I ran this a month after my 2014 PR and finished in 27:31. My goals were kind of loose:

A Under 8:10/mi
B Under 8:20/mi
C Better than last year's 27:31

The Race
I lined up between 25:00 and 28:00 pace groups. Alex went up to the front and my other running friends spread out. I didn't consider sticking with the 25:00 group until about a half mile in. I was running a comfortable speed and they were within my sights.  For some reason my brain wasn't working and I couldn't remember what pace lead to a 25:00 5K. I spent the first half mile trying to figure that out before giving up. Ha!

My outfit for the day
Most of the first mile is a straight shot, which I like. I was passed by some speedy folks, but for the most part I held my own. The 25:00 group was still just in front of me and so was a running friend (Jeff). I was pretty surprised to be close to him because he's speedy. After the race, I found out he was a little sick, but whatever... I'm still proud I could see him for at least half of the run! I thought I'd try to stick with him, but just after mile 1 he started to pull away. Mile 1 came and went fairly quickly.
Mile 1: 7:55

I knew mile 2 would be tough because it included a few turns. Before entering the woods I only saw the top three finishers emerge. Normally, I see people like Alex so I knew I was going faster and I'd probably beat my PR unless something crazy happened. Mile 2 is where I lost a lot of speed last year. After the woods we crossed a bridge then went back to the bike path. I could see Jeff below. He'd really pulled ahead... but at least the 25:00 group was still in my sights. I was surprised.
Mile 2: 8:09

The last mile was tough for a different reason. It's flat and the wind is crazy. My pace dipped down to 8:30 or 8:40 during large gusts and it was tough to keep going. To make things more interesting, I caught up to a woman who sounded like she was dying. She was breathing erratically and coughing/hacking. I'm serious: she sounded like she shouldn't be running. It was disgusting. And as I tried desperately to get away from her, she stayed right with me. I suppose I should thank her for getting my speed up in the last .7, but ughhhhh.

My photo was so bad, so I'll use this guy's
I couldn't get away from her until the second to last turn at 2.8, which was the windiest corridor. It was tough to stay upright, let alone run. I made it through with some on-course support, then took the final turn into the finish. The 25:00 group was far enough ahead I knew I couldn't catch them. I looked around for a chick to pass (because normally I get passed by someone in my age group) and realized besides the scary lady (now behind me), I was surrounded by dudes! I couldn't go much faster, but I passed one epically tall guy and headed for the line. I told myself earlier I wouldn't pose for a photo, but I smiled and waved at the photographer. IT WAS THE WORST PHOTO EVER.
Mile 3 and last .1: 8:04, 7:58

I stopped my watch and saw my new PR! Wahoo! Alex, Jeff, and I waited for the others to finish. After a few official photos (free!) Angie, Alex, and I headed inside for the taco bar and chocolate milk. This event has terrific perks.

Me, Alex, and Jeff

Stats and Thoughts
This year's medal is lovely (& heavy!)
When you see my finish time I think you'll understand when I say "crap, I wish I would have run, like 1 second faster." Anyway, I've now achieved one of my 2016 goals, so I guess I need to update it. New goal: Another 5k PR with mile times under 8!

Final Time: 25:00 (8:03 m/m)
Overall: 146 / 1395 (10%)
Gender: 29 / 862 (3%) !
Age Group: 9 / 217 (4%) !

Up Next: The Broke Man's Winter Warm Up in two weeks. I'm an ambassador for the race so I'll also be helping out with packet pickup and the shake out run. The distance was changed from 7.5 to 7 and they added a 3.5 mile option so Alex is going to run. Should be fun!


  1. Congrats on a new PR! You're already crushing your goals for 2016! I've never been to a 5K with pacers. That's neat. Your photos turned out great!

    1. Thank you! The race company hosts one of the largest half marathons in Columbus, so they try to get new folks used to pacers at each race. It's pretty cool!


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