(I’ll add some more pictures to this post when they become available.)

Beating my 5K PR (personal record) continues to remain elusive. I anticipated that today would be the day that I could break the 24:21 time (7:51 pace) I attained at my first 5K back on April 7, 2012. Well, it didn’t happen. Here’s how the race played out:

I did a short, easy pre-race run with Neil, a friend I met on dailymile. (The encouragement and insight he has provided since I got into running has been invaluable.) In doing that pre-race run, I got my legs loosened up and my heart rate elevated. I checked that off my list.

Then, I took my position at the Start line at the front of the pack. (There seems to have been a couple hundred runners.) The path was about 10′ wide which makes passing difficult when runners cluster together so I wanted to get up to the front. I checked that off the list.

The gun was fired a couple minutes past 8:00am and we took off. That’s when I made my big mistake. The front pack was filled with teenagers and 20-somethings. They hit it hard and I tried to stay with them. (One of the most interesting parts of a race is the minute after the gun is fired. Everyone is crowded before the start and then as everyone begins to run, it takes a lot of mental effort to keep from tripping over each other and find your personal running space.) I did well for the first mile. But, then I noticed the clock at mile 1 and it said 7:15. I began to panic a little because I knew that I was in uncharted territory. I’ve never run that fast.

Maybe it was partly mental but in miles 2 and 3, I began to fizzle. I stopped to walk a couple of times for no more than 5-10 seconds … but I had to walk. Bummer! About half a mile from the finish line, I felt like I was depleted of energy and I stopped for the second time. A runner, who I’ve never met, gave a word of encouragement as he passed. “Don’t give up now! You’re almost there!” I resumed running and booked it to the finish line.

One of the highlights of this race was halfway through when I ran past the crowds. There was a lot of cheering going on for the runners. Those cheers didn’t do anything for me. But, then I saw Kim, Zach, Sean, & Joseph. They clapped, smiled and yelled out words of affirmation and encouragement. It felt awesome! It made me feel like I could have kept running … well, almost!

I’m unsure how many runners were in my gender/age grouping. I was in the male/40-44 group. For the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals, I was only up against runners in this group. I was pleasantly surprised that my finish time of 25:22 (8:10 pace) got third! It’s my first medal and hopefully won’t be the last.

After the race, my wife took a picture of Neil and me. He’s in the 35-39 age group and took first place with a time of 19:17 (6:13 pace). Too fast for me … at least for now.