Monday, July 12, 2010

KRFC Radio Flyer 5K - Fort Collins

Photo of me running this event made the newspaper (I'm the white singlet in the foreground on the left)

The Radio Flyer 5K is a fundraiser for a local Community-Supported radio station in Fort Collins, Colorado - KRFC 88.9 FM. This year (2010) was the first time the event was held, so it was relatively small, though I suspect it may grow in popularity a little, because it was so well organized and executed, and the post-race pancake breakfast and award's 'ceremony' hosted by Avogadro's Number was fantastic. Other sponsor's included Odell Brewing Company, which provided pint glasses as prizes for overall and age group winners, and Go West T-Shirt Company, which must obviously have had something to do with the even t-shirts. I ran the event, while my wife volunteered at the mid-point water station.

Runner Disposition
I was well-rested for this event. I had no inclination to go for a personal record, because for the week prior I had been having some tightness in my right calf, possibly a soleus strain due to trying some, perhaps overzealous efforts to get accustomed to running in racing flats as opposed to the typical rubber bricks I attach to my feet. Having laid off the running for a week prior to the race to give the calf a chance to recover a sufficiently to run this even, I just wanted to run a good solid race and enjoy the morning. That said, I felt pretty good overall, and I realized when I got there that none of the usual suspects capable of running 5K's well below 20 minutes had shown up, so I realized that if I ran a pretty strong race,  might actually be in contention to place in at least my age group. This being uncommon for relative newcomers to running who are only moderately fast, I still decided not to push things too hard.

I had no way of knowing in advance what the course would be like, because a map had not been posted online, so before arriving, I had assumed the course would be very similar to other races run on the Colorado State Campus, and for the most part this was true. The topography of the Colorado State Campus is pretty flat, and so I knew the course would be pretty flat, but the revised of the start/finish area of the course made for a fast downhill start in the first quarter mile, which was a nice change from the previous 5K I had run on campus, and shortened some of the slight uphill the campus races tend to have in the last quarter mile to less than a tenth of a mile as you turn off the oval and charge up the slight grade of Old Main through the finish.

The course started at W. Laurel and Rembrandt Dr. - basically an alley between S. Howes and S. Mason Streets. Heading south, runners took a right at Old Main Dr., then left onto The Oval (Oval Dr.), and complete one full lap before heading out of the Oval at East Dr. From their, the course looped around Moby Arena and the Intramural fields, before runners return to the oval via East Dr., turn right on the oval, then right at Old Main Dr. to the finish at Old Main and S. Mason.

The race had an 8:30 start time. Usually the summer races here start at 7:00 or 8:00 AM, so it might have been a little warmer than a typical summer race, but the weather hadn't quite been at it's hottest, so it was warm, but not unbearably hot, even though the skies were clear and blue and the sun was out, there was virtually no breeze.

The Race
The start:  The turnout was small, so I started with two other Master's at the front, surrounded by a bunch of young kids from a youth fitness group of some kind.

Mile 1:  Since the start was downhill for a quarter mile, it was fast, but relaxed and comfortable.  I usually try to check and adjust my pace at about half mile intervals through a race using my Garmin GPS watch. At about a half mile, I glanced down and saw to my surprised that I had averaged 6:00 in the first half mile, and I was the lead runner. Realizing I probably couldn't maintain that pace beyond another quarter mile once we left the oval and hit about 1.5 miles that were mostly on a slight uphill grade (very slight, but enough to slow a runner down a bit), I decided to slow it down and finish the mile off at around 7:00 pace. That allowed the eventually winner to pass me as we left the oval.  I finished the first mile in 6:43, and just decided to try and hold 7:00 through mile 3, then sprint the final 0.1 for the finish. Right at the end of the first mile, I was passed by female runner who would eventually finish first overall for females.

Mile 2:  Not much to say here except that I began to feel the heat as I chugged along mile two.  I grabbed a cup of water by Moby Arena, put a little in my mouth and splashed the rest on my face. I slowed down a little because I didn't want to overheat, and finished mile 2 in 7:09. I was hoping that I could take advantage of the slight downhill in the first half of Mile 3 to get my pace back down to 7:00.

Mile 3:  The downhill in the first half of mile three is there, but is almost undetectable, and given fatigue at that point in the race, I wasn't able to capitalize sufficiently before the slight uphill grade back to the south end of the oval, when there was a little steeper downhill grade leading to the final 0.1 mi. of the race.

The finish:  The last 0.1 mile I found some kick when I heard the pitter-patter of footsteps behind me, and averaged 6:11 to the finish, coming in third overall, second overall male with an official time of 21:38. It wasn't a personal record, but it was a good solid race. Once I'm more confident with my calf while running in the racing flats, I am not a lot more confident I'll be able to crack the 21 minute barrier soon. Nobody finished in under 20 min.  The overall winner (male and female were 61 and 55 years old, respectively!!! Awesome!)

This was a great and very fun event, partly because it was relatively small, but mostly because the real speedster's didn't show up for it, so us older, only moderately fast older runners had a chance to have a little competition of our own, and because there was such a huge age range, and a surprising number of spectators given the small size of the event. The pancake breakfast on the patio at Avo's was a real highlight, in my book, and I spent some time getting to know some other local runners that I have seen at other events, and who also finished strong.

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