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Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Race Recap: First on the First 5k

The medals are always great - Photo by Cap City Sports Media

The First on the First 5k took place January 1, 2017 at 11:00am in Westerville, Ohio.

Pre Race
Sleepy?' – Cap City Sports Media
This was our 4th year running this race, so we knew what we were getting into. In fact, this is the only race we've participated in every year since we started running. My stats have certainly improved: 2014 - 31:20, 2015 - 27:31, 2016 - 25:00, 2017 - ??

We picked up our packets early and they included a fleece headband, long sleeve tech shirt, training plans, granola bar, bib, and gear check bag. We arrived around 10:20 and walked to the community center to use the indoor bathrooms. I saw a few friends, we pinned on our bibs, checked our extra gear, and eventually sauntered over to the start line with 10 minutes to go. The weather was warmer than normal. It said 38 degrees, but it felt more like 40 something because of the sun. Needless to say, I was very overdressed in capris, tall socks, long sleeves, gloves, and a headband.

When I began 5k training five weeks ago I intended to get a big PR. Well, I forgot about a half marathon I have to run next weekend, so I shifted my focus to distance vs. speed. In the week leading up to this race, I ran 29 miles to reach 1,000 miles in 2016... so my legs were tired and my goals were loose. I planned to run by feel and hoped for a sub-25.

I'm behind the tall guy. Cap City Sports Media

The Race
After Alex went to the front of the pack I found myself next to two running friends. One, Jeff, was shooting for his first sub-25 and the other, Steve, was someone I met the day before in my new pace group. He remembered me and we had a nice chat. Directly in front of me was a girl in shorts and a tank top who looked fast, so I decided to keep her in my sights as long as possible.

Meh – Cap City Sports Media
The first two tenths were pretty congested but I could see Jeff, Steve, and fast girl and felt pretty good considering how tired my legs were. Most of mile 1 is a straightaway, so I focused on maintaining my pace and not getting caught up with the folks passing me or stuck behind the folks I passed. This was the first 5k in eons where I didn't get stuck behind a 9 year old sprint/walking, though there was a woman next to me for a bit who sounded like she was dying.
Mile 1: 7:45

Mile 2 winds through some trees and is always my slowest section of the race. I wasn't really gunning for a PR so I decided to stick with my beacons: fast girl and Jeff (not sure where Steve went). At one point I looked down at my Garmin and saw 9:0x. Whoops! I tried to rally, but I was pretty tired and the narrowing course didn't help. My 2017 goal of all miles under 8 went out the window as soon as mile 2 chimed.
Mile 2: 8:16  (Booooooo)

I figured a PR was hopeless and tried to power through. I'd lost ground on my beacons in the last mile, but I was slowly catching up to them. A little after the mile 2 sign I saw Jeff stop and walk. Steve patted him on the back as he passed and I ran by and gave a sympathetic thumbs up. I could hear him start to run again behind me. I think having him there motivated me to finish strong. The last mile is flat and along the outer edge of several soccer fields, so you can see exactly where you're going... and how far you are from the finish line. It was really hard, but my pace only dropped when we turned corners. I would have gladly walked if it wasn't a race. Instead, I kept fast girl in my sights, and as we took the final turn to the finish I must have passed Steve because he shouted, "Finish strong Elizabeth! Save yourself!" What's truly great is he caught up with me and we finished side by side (unfortunately photos don't really show the finish).
Mile 3: 7:43

That's Steve in blue! And I was way overdressed.
Steve and I congratulated one another and Jeff was mere seconds behind and got his sub-25! Alex met us at the finish (he finished in a "slow" 21:xx / top 50) and we grabbed a few photos, then went inside for the free taco bar. (Unfortunately, they didn't have chocolate milk this year.)

Afterwards we stopped at Starbucks for a free drink, cleaned up, then went to my mom and step dad's for Christmas #3 / New Year's. We were both beat by the end of the day!

Posing with Alex and Jeff - Cap City Sports Media

Final Stats and Thoughts
Well, shoot, this went better than I expected on tired legs. Of course - in hindsight - I sure wish I could have nailed the second mile. This isn't really the best course for a fast mile 2, but I could have been a bit more consistent to get all miles under 8.

Final Time: 24:32 (PR by 3 seconds)
Overall: 127 / 1301 (10%)
Gender: 34 / 838 (4%)
Age Group: 9 / 192 (5%)

Alex took this one
Up Next: Rocks and Roots #1 (10k) this Sunday. Hilly trail, with lots of turns, and it's going to be 11 degrees. I'm physically ready, but not mentally. Oh, and I have a half marathon the weekend after and I haven't run farther than 9 miles since October. What am I doing?! 


  1. Congrats on the PR! To improve every year like you have is great!

    1. Thank you! This used to be a strictly no-PR course for me, so it's fun to see progress!


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