Guest Blogger: Brandon Boucher
Another cold morning, another 5K. This race is named So Others May Eat (SOME); and it’s on Thanksgiving morning, benefiting a local shelter in Washington, D.C. Before the race, Jessica and I met up with some friends and were enjoying some good conversation and our friends’ company. We found a place on Freedom Plaza that was in the sun and we were all comfortable soaking in the warmth. The race started at 9 am and 20 minutes before the race began, I did my warm up. Starting on Pennsylvania Avenue, it was shockingly cold when you were in the shade between the buildings. I run along the road for a bit and stop and stretch and make my way back to the starting line. I line up in my appropriate time corral and wait for the start. At 9 am, 13,000 runners, who raised $400,000 dollars for SOME, started running.
As always I want to best my personal best 5k time, which right now is 20:22 set earlier this year. So I start out kind of fast. The course profile is fairly flat with maybe a small hill. From the starting area, we head east on Pennsylvania Avenue towards the U.S. Capitol Building. The way the sun was in the sky, it appears as a distant silhouette. As we head across the mall, I see the first mile marker; I look down at my watch and see that I ran the first mile in 6:18. “Not bad,” I think to myself. I have to bob and weave a little bit around runners who were starting to slow down, but other than that, I start mile two. Mile two goes into the Federal Southwest Center of D.C. This is where I start doing some math in my head. I am trying to figure out what my time will be if I hold a 6:20 average pace for the remaining two miles. “So 6+6+6 is 18. 20 Seconds + 20 Seconds + 20 Seconds is another minute. 19. 19 minute 5K. 19 MINUTE 5K,” I think to myself. But that’s only if I hold a 6:20 average. I feel good, my legs feel good, I see no reason I could not make this happen. Mile two comes up and my watch beeps. 6:21. One mile to go and I have a sub 20 minute 5K. We head east again around the front of the Capitol Building and back on Pennsylvania Avenue. “Down the street, it’s not far now,” I think. My lungs are burning and I can feel the lactic acid in my legs start to burn. Mile three passes and all I can see is the finish, a tenth of a mile ahead. A quick look at my watch and I see 19:15. I have nothing left so I don’t sprint, but I keep my pace and cross the line.
I look at my watch as I’m exiting the finishers shoot. 20:17. “That can’t be right. I was set for under 20 minutes. Where did I go wrong?” Looking through the information on my watch shows the last mile was a little slow, 6:36. But as I add up the 3 mile splits, 6:18, 6:21, and 6:36, it was 19:15 5K. 20:17 is still a personal best. I walk over to the bag check area and grab by backpack, which has a change of shoes, and some warm clothes. I start to trot back up Pennsylvania Avenue to see if I can see Jessica, the whole time trying to figure out where the extra time came in on my finish. I’m going over and over the math in my head. I run out to the 3 mile mark and wait to see Jessica. A short time later I get a call from Jessica. She was at the finish line. “Dang it, I must have missed her.” We meet up and we start to walk to the car. And then it dawned on me. A 5 Kilometer race is 3.1 miles. And the last tenth of a mile, I wasn’t accounting for. Major Doh! My math was right for a 3 mile race, just not a 3.1 mile race. Well there ya go.
Next up…Brandon takes on the Annapolis Half Marathon…this Saturday