I’ve often wondered why 5 mile races seem so elusive in the road racing realm. I find them to be a fun distance – more challenging than a 5k but not as demanding as training for a half marathon. I know there are 10ks as well, but having a nice even distance to race, none of this point something tacked onto the end, makes for easier pacing.
If my memory and Athlinks serve correct, I only ever ran the White Rose 5 Miler in 2006. Back then it was part of the Wellspan Running Series, was held in November, and had a slightly different course. Originally I had no plans to race it this year given its date fell two weeks before my half marathon. Once I found out I could get a free shirt by running the EBACC 5k, Quarterback Club 5k and White Rose 5 Miler though I was game.
As much as I enjoy the 5 mile distance I struggled in knowing the best race strategy to employ. I knew I couldn’t go out as hard as I did in the Quarterback Club 5k. My two main running buddies wouldn’t be good pacers; one is a lot faster than me and one is somewhat slower. I knew I could break 45 minutes and felt breaking 40 minutes might be a stretch goal, so I set a reasonable goal of running around 42 minutes.
I ventured into the city after my doctor’s appointment Friday evening for the packet pickup. This was my only critique in the post-race survey sent out this week. While the White Rose Bar & Grill played host venue to the race I don’t think having packet pickup inside the restaurant during its primary dinner hours was the best choice. I thought it was going to be outside of the restaurant and was confused upon my arrival, seeing no stands setup. I also was unsure if I was allowed to park in the lot that I did given I rarely venture into the city and most lots read “private parking”. After navigating through restaurant patrons I found the pickup area. The restaurant was having pre-race pasta specials as well as a “rum runner” drink special, but I was happy to leave once I got my packet.
Saturday morning I parked in a nearby parking garage after learning there is no charge to use them on weekends. Upon exiting I saw Todd arriving so I waited for him to get parked and we headed down the block to the White Rose. We joined up with Armand for a warmup run. The humidity was less than pleasant, but the overcast skies kept the temperature from drastically rising.
I lined up closer to the front than I normally would, but given the size of the crowd I didn’t want to get trapped early in the race. A cannon start like the one at the Quarterback 5k sent us off into the city. I went out at a somewhat comfortable pace, but not too easy.
Years ago I would never truly “race” until the final mile of a race, no matter what the distance. I’m sure that is common for most novice runners as I saw plenty of it as a jr high cross country coach years ago. There is a subtle fear of dying out if one tries too hard early in a race. I think I have matured as a runner to understand that it’s more important to push throughout a whole race rather than be able to kick it to the finish line with a final sprint. I felt as if I actually raced all 5 miles, passing people when I could and pushing parts of the course when needed.
I know I tend to detail races by each mile, but I’d rather keep this entry a bit shorter and summarized. My mile splits were as follows: 7:42, 8:01, 7:47, 8:16 and 7:17. The first mile had a youth drum line playing along the course which was fun. The second mile had a minor hill and the fourth mile had a decently steep hill. It helped that it was alongside a park with a lake, water features are always a nice distraction. I did struggle to recover after it on the downhill as my legs felt fine, but the humidity was making it hard to refocus my breathing. There was a bagpiper playing after the fourth mile which was a nice distraction.
I don’t think anyone passed me after the second mile, and I continued to pick off people as I went. There was a woman in a pink tank top who I trailed for a good portion of the race. I closed the gap a bit going up the hill, but did not pass her until the last half mile. The straightaway to the finish felt incredibly long and reminded me of the high school cross country course for the county meet; you could see the finish for close to a quarter mile in advance but it never felt as if it got any closer even if you picked up your pace. After striding out as hard as I could (there was no sprinting across the line) I finished with a time of 39:03.
I was quite pleased with breaking 40 minutes. Unsure if I placed in my age group I hung out with Todd and Armand at the after party. Our bibs had tear away tickets good for one beverage and one sandwich. Normally these parties only have beer as an option, but this one contained a hard cider which was a nice change. I only drank about half the bottle as I’m not one to drink in the morning, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity given it was free. I also tried a chicken salad sandwich for the first time and liked it more than I expected.
Finally the awards ceremony began. The top 5 men and women were each awarded money prizes. The age groups were in 5 year age ranges which usually increase my odds of placing over the 10 year groupings. I happily accepted my 3rd place award, a running cap that said “award winner”. I only have one hat, so I found this to be a useful award instead of the standard trophy or medal.
Overall the race was well organized with a great course and competition and unique perks afterwards. I look forward to running it again next year.