Sunday, May 22, 2011
Race Report: 2011 HACC Dash York Campus 5K, or "Hey, I got a Medal!"
I hadn't planned on racing this weekend. I was going to try another longish run on Saturday to see if I could cope with the humidity better than I did on Thursday, and then lift or take a rest day on Sunday.
But, when Derek, a friend from college, sent me a text on Friday to ask if I was running in the HACC 5K on Sunday, I didn't see a reason not to, even though I'd never even heard that there was a HACC 5K on Sunday. It turned out that he'd learned of the race only a short while before I did.
I went out and died in the humidity on Saturday, running a slow 7 miles that left me feeling completely drained and sore, so I had low expectations for the 5K.
Indeed, I didn't even really feel awake when I got down to HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) to register. I figured a 27 or 28 minute race was in order, and I was fine with that. Some days I've got it, some days I don't.
A few minutes before the race we got in line. Derek runs in the low 20-minute range and started near the front. I'm not quite there, and I felt slower than normal, so I moved about halfway back in the field, which I think was about 200 runners.
The gun went off, and I had the weird experience of feeling like I was in slow motion, but also having a seam up the middle of the road and quickly passing a lot of people. My legs, as I'd predicted, felt like lead weights, but when I looked down at Garmin it said I was going 9MPH, way above my pace.
Knowing I couldn't maintain that pace for any time at all, even if Garmin were accurate, I slowed down a bit but still cleared the first mile just under 8 minutes. There was a tough hill early on the course, and it was sneaky-hot, warm but very humid, but the race directors did an awesome job with three water stations on the course (really, it was two, but we passed one of them on the way out and the way back). With the help of two cups of ice-cold water dumped on my head, I held my pace and had passed the mile 2 marker with a time under 16 minutes. As I approached the HACC campus, I thought my PR (23:43) was in reach, but I couldn't quite get get to the finish in time and ended up at 23:55, the second fastest 5K I've ever run and only my 2nd time under 24 minutes in five years of running 5Ks.
As the race director and volunteers posted times, Derek and I quickly saw that he had finished 7th overall, in just over 20 minutes, and had won our age group. But, quite unexpectedly, I took third place in 30-34 year old men's division. Of course, celebratory donuts were consumed. Congrats, Derek, on a great race! (More pictures coming later in the week.)
Unexpectedly, this was one of the most fun 5K's I've ever run. The course itself is visually boring, in a corporate park in York that I'm quite familiar with. There's nothing that can be done about that. But, despite the lack of interesting scenery, this race seemed to go by much faster than any other I'd ever run -- it felt like I was only running for about 10 minutes! I think they did a nice job mapping it out so that there were always enough turns that it never felt like I had a long way to go...I'm doing a bad job explaining that, but good job race directors! (The course was mostly an out and back, but there was a loop at the far end that cut into the longest straight stretch about halfway though -- it made the 2nd half of the course feel shorter to me than the first half. Awesome!)
I would have said this was a nice race even if I hadn't run one of my best races ever. The shirts have a cool logo on them; they had a great spread of food at the post-race celebration; the awards and medals were very, very nice (they're appropriately college-themed and have the race date and age group engraved on the back); and best of all, there was a Sheetz truck giving away FREE SMOOTHIES. I love Sheetz.
So, in short, both my expectations for the race and my own performance were surpassed by quite a bit.