Saturday, I ran the MoDOT Work Zone 5K in Chesterfield. I ran this race for the first time last year, and enjoyed it. Like last year, this was a small race, with decent medals, really cheap entry fee, and a course that isn’t used on any other race I run… All good things!
We started with a cool morning — about 50° or so — and just milled about until time for the race to start. I saw a co-worker of mine, and chit-chatted about how slow we were gonna be… and then he passed me on the first turn! 🙂
Since I’d run this course last year, I knew there were pretty decent hills on the course. I vowed to chug up the first one, and was able to do that much easier than I remembered from last year. I got my water at the halfway point, ran down the hill I’d just climbed, and then climbed the last hill heading toward the finish.
And as I got pretty close to the finish, I spied Darla, cheering me on with Roxy in tow. I was stunned by this, and ran over to get a puppy-snuggle on my way to the finish line. I finished the race, and found them again. Roxy was an absolute doll, and was friendly with everyone she met. Lotsa puppy kisses given out!
I did two things different — something you’re never supposed to do on race day! I fueled a little differently. When I was at Fleet Feet Friday, picking up my packet, it was time to re-stock my cache of Sport Beans, and I decided to shake things up a bit. I’ve been wanting to get some honey into my races, and while I didn’t find honey, I didn’t find some Honey Stinger Waffles. These are little flat wafers, with a moist consistency to them. I talked with the salesperson, and found that she uses those right before the race starts. I figured this was an out-and-back shortish race, so I’d give it a try.
The other new thing I tried was Gu Chews. Now, I’ve gotta tell ya, I had good results using Gu packets last year, but the stickiness and consistency kinda caught up with me, and I stopped using them. These were packets of four chews — about the size of a hotel in Monopoly — and were easy to deal with, and quick to down. Did they do me any good? Well, I don’t know, but my time sure was good!
And how good, you might ask? Well, last year’s race was 55 weeks ago (a little later start this year), and 101 races ago. Using the time from my Garmin (this race uses clock time for official time, so that’s a little inconsistent for me), I knocked almost five minutes off my time. FIVE MINUTES! That’s a huge improvement across a year’s span!
So how’d I decrease so much? Well, the story’s in the splits. My first kilometer was almost the same between the two races — 8:36.8 vs 8:35.6, a negligible difference. The last kilometer was pretty similar too — 8:41.6 last year, and 8:21.5 this year. The real tale is in the middle.
Last year, kilometer 2, 3, and 4 were 10:27, 11:23, and 12:00. This is were all the hills are on this course, and while they’re not particular steep, they are long. This year, those same three km were 9:02, 9:36 and 10:40, which were vast improvements.
I was really pleased with my performance on this race. What’s goofy is that I didn’t really feel like I did all that well, but some reflection has definitely spun my opinion. Glad I was out there!