Overall Time: 18:20
Place: 8 of 660
Weather: 50 Degrees,
Start time: 9:00
Splits: 5:50, 5:57, 5:48 (+ some change for the .1 mi)
The JFK Rotary Club has a very cool fundraising race every year — a 5K race on an actual JFK runway! It’s aptly called the JFK Runway Run, and it’s an out-and-back on a perfectly flat and fast course, with planes taking off overhead and all the cool stuff that comes with international jetsetting.
Despite 1.) wanting to focus on longer distances, 2.) having just done a 5K in March and 3.) a NYRR 10K points race in Central Park the same day, I couldn’t let the opportunity to race on the runway pass me by. Two of my Mikes (Sanderson and White) and I went down for this race, and bumped into a half dozen other FRNY folk out there.
As I always do, I got a tiny bit nervous before the race. What if my legs didn’t show up? I’m not doing any speed training, and a 5K is all about speed. On top of that, Benjamin Corbett (a fellow FRNYer) was there and I just couldn’t let him beat me, at whatever cost. Ego is a dangerous, dangerous thing!
The event is fairly small, and there were no real corrals or bib numbers that seeded the fast runners toward the front. We were asked to line up next to different poles that indicated our predicted pace (5 min, 6 min, 7 min, etc.) and after a minute the horn sounded and we were off!
Only a quarter-mile into the race, I notice Benjamin is well in front of me and another kid, Ned, is right next to me. I should be well ahead of Ned but I felt like my pace was good. Were my legs betraying me? Was I going slower than I thought? Based on my effort it sure felt like sub-6:00 miles but judging by the company I was keeping (or rather, *following!*) it seemed I was running much slower — that is, until the first mile marker came up : 5:50 on the nose. Perfect.
Being in the front of the race meant that I ran solo just about the entire way. I was never more than a few seconds away from my friend Sanderson, but without a large group to pace off of or to chase I had concerns about losing focus / concentration (i.e., speed), and also about losing motivation. As annoying as big races in Central Park can be, at least there are familiar faces and rabbits to chase.
In the next half mile I’d keep my pace steady and would soon blow by both Ned and Benjamin. Sanderson was running right with me, but passed me slightly before the hairpin turnaround at the end of the runway. The hairpin turn was really tricky and it seemed to come out of nowhere, which probably cost me at least a few seconds in the middle of that second mile (5:57).
Heading back to the start/finish line, I could judge how much distance I had put between myself and Ned/Benjamin. It seemed pretty respectable, and I felt comfortable pushing the pace just a little bit to try and catch Sanderson. The last thing I wanted to do was to not push myself the last mile of a 5K, because that’s what 5Ks are about : constant but short-lived pain. The only regrets come after the race when you realize you didn’t suffer enough. With a final mile of 5:48 and a nice kick to the finish I was the holder of a new PR (18:20) and came in 8th overall — my first Top-10 finish in a race to date. I wasn’t able to catch up with Sanderson (18:12), but it was good motivation while it lasted.