The second race of 2010-11 season in the Tortoise and Hare Race Series, the club race series of the Fort Collins Running Club, was the the Warren Park 5K. The weather was comfortably cool, and runners started at in the Parking area off of Horsetooth at Warren Park, running on the sidewalks along Horsetooth and Lemay, which border the Park, then into the neighborhood south of Lemay to a turnaround in a small circle drive, and back. The first mile is relatively flat until the last quarter mile, when you climb a slight hill into the neighborhood. From there it's lightly rolling to the turnaround, so the second mile has some up and down. The third mile goes back down the hills out of the neighborhood onto Lemay, then it's relatively flat again back to the finish.
Me and at least one other runner had run one of the Heart Center of the Rockies Races the previous day. Having just run my fastest ever 10K by far the day before, I suspected I might be a bit short on glycogen stores for this 5K, but I felt pretty good.
Since it's close to my house, I ran about a half mile of warmup to Warren Park to the start area, checked in, met with a couple of other runners I know in the club, and wen it was my turn, I was off. I didn't have any expectations, but it was a pleasant surprised to see 6:11 on the lap pace field of my Garmin when I looked about 0.3 miles into the race. I smiled, but pulled back a little thinking I might burn out more quickly at that pace. By the time I reached the hill going up into the neighborhood, my overall pace was around 6:30, and I just eased up the hill, finishing Mile 1 at around 6:40, with a cramp starting in my diaphragm.
I slowed a little more and did some deeper "stomach" breathing for a bit, and let myself speed up as the cramp dissipated. Then, it was up and down, and up again to the turnaround, and down, and up and down to the start of the third mile. Mile 2 was done in 6:53.
The start of mile 3 has a little bit of downhill in it, and although my legs were tired. I tried to ratchet the pace up a little, and then just keep a hard steady effort until the last quarter mile, when I knew I would probably find some strength to pick it up still more and cross the finish strong. I passed a handful of people during the race, and was passed by a handful, mostly in the last mile, to finish in 20:37, according to my watch (20:38 official). This was a PR for me by a bit over 30 seconds, which I was quite happy with after the big 10K PR effort the day before.
Afterwards, the top 5 finishers (I wasn't one of them), were given their awards, and most of us headed the Rocky Mountain Bagel Works on Timberline in Fort Collins for the traditional Club breakfast, which is a great opportunity to network with other local runners and meet some new people with shared interests.
Another enjoyable morning of hard running and a delicious breakfast behind me, I ran with my wife on her first run when I returned home, and called it a "cooldown" run.