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Run Ajax 5k – Be Careful What You Ask For

Race: Ajax 5k Tune Up Race #3
Date: August 25, 2016
Result: 18:35, 1st M50-59, 9th overall.

This was is the final edition of Run Ajax’s free 5k tune up series, before their marquee 5k and 21k races this September 25.

I must admit I really asked for it today. I blabbed that none of my 5k races have been slower than 20 minutes, going back to my first in 2004 (19:11). And then Destiny almost caught up.

The course is the best of the bunch. Relatively straight and flat, with just one tight turn and a turnaround halfway. There is a slight rise over the first 1.2k which is given back on the return trip, just when you need it most.

We welcomed the rain. The afternoon had been hot and very humid. While the rain deterred some of the usual suspects, a good sized crowd still gathered for a refreshing albeit wet run. And even though this was the slowest of my three races, I came away from it feeling satisfied with the result. With tired legs from an 8k race four days earlier, I really only expected to run around 19:00.

The first two kms were comfortable and my legs moved well regardless of the slight climb. I was so focused on form that I had not checked my watch at all. However, fatigue started to set in (no surprise) legs getting heavier as the race progressed.

Loose shoe lace at the turn back: A rookie move if ever there was! A brief pause to tie it released the dude I was chasing. And then two others quickly passed, putting me temporarily into 12th place.

The top 10 men and women score points for the C.O.R.E. race series. Being 12th served no purpose. I had to regain ground, yet my pace was frustratingly stuck on snooze. Another race was getting away from me!

On the way back to km marker #3 I checked my lap pace – 4:10/k. I had not paid any attention to my previous splits, so this was frightening news. My date with Destiny was near. Could this be my first ever plus 20 minute 5k race? The thought got me properly spooked. Heavy legs be damned I was determined to right this sinking ship and upped my chase. Km #3 beeped in at 3:56. Time to run scared!

The young men ahead of me were having a romp. They were speeding up and coasting, even jogging back to talk to pals behind them. I whittled down the distance, but more importantly I kept an eye on my pace which hovered dangerously close to 4:00/k. I had to push harder. Km #4 was over in a barely better 3:55. My mental game needs some work!

But now to save my bacon. Overriding commands issued to my legs as well as a few encouraging words to the young men I had just passed. Lets’ go! I expected they would hunt me down, but at least I would make them work for it. With those two stinker splits I convinced myself I had left something in reserve and tapped in. The only turn on the course revealed the finish line – still no youngsters – so I blasted home for some series points.

The race over, time now to check on splits: 3:36/3:36/3:56/3:55/3:33 plus a sprint to the finish.

I am pleased with how I turned this race around, and in the end I was never really in any trouble. My sub-20 streak is alive! But feeling that it was in trouble certainly can be motivating. Exactly what I have been asking for!

Author

Born and raised in Hamilton & Stoney Creek. Ran X-Country in high school, but not really special at it - a middle of the pack finisher. But then again, really didn't know how to train. Didn't run after Gr 12 due to nasty shin splints. Really never ran in proper shoes back then. Didn't try to run again until age 30. Then tried. And tried. And tried. Shin splints every time. Finally got it going for good at 38 in proper shoes and I have vowed never, ever, to stop running again.

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