Phil Doganeiro 3 Bridge 5k Race Report
I definitely decided to race this after hearing there would be money again. The money involved is right in between "worth-it if it's close enough" and "not worth it if it's a flight/long drive" fork the 5k. For the half, the $ starts at $2,000, so I figured there would be a couple of pros (there were 2) who would shoot for that, and only top 3 win money in both races. The 5k starts a bit more meager at $750, then drops to $500 and then to $250. I think that is worth it for being a 20-minute drive, so even though I'm in very average to below-average shape, I couldn't fathom anyone making the trek for that type of money, so I assumed I'd have a shot with an okay time.
Race started off up the first hill and then into the main bridge over Clearwater with me in 5th/6th place, as I opened with a 5:09 mile, and the lead group came in at 5:03 or so. By the time I hit the top of the bridge, my pace had sunk to 5:16/mile, while they seemed to be still trucking along in front of me (I'm in 5th still at this point). Once the bridge crested, I think the pace up such a long bridge finally got to everyone, so even though I didn't speed up per se, they broke apart as a group except for the top two guys. In the first half of mile two and at the turn-around I caught two runners who were huffing and puffing, and I was feeling taxed, but still okay. I was now in third and figured this would be my goal finishing spot, but the guy in second absolutely fell apart the moment he hit the big bridge again. I passed him as if he was standing still, and then felt aspirations of catching first! Well, I definitely underestimated the bridge a bit here, and should have pulled off my pace, which had dipped down to a 5:05/mile overall average. Even when I crested and had the massive downhill down the backside, I was still losing seconds on the downhill! The first place guy threw down a bit here just to create some serious seperation (he ended up by winning by over 50 seconds) and so I just put a gap between myself and third and decided to hold that and stop pushing so hard. I knew my sprint-speed was great, so if I maintained a 10-second or better leader at minimum, I'd be fine as we were less than a half mile to go. I never needed the sprint, so I just coasted to the finish and to $500! Sometimes I'm very thankful not too many speedy runners live in this area.
I felt fine after the 5k- maybe a little queasy from the humidity/heat. The guy who won turned out to be a 14-flat 5k runner as well as a 3:55-miler as recently as April, so I wouldn't have gotten him on my best day, so that certainly gave me some solace.
I definitely hate this course. There are just so few hills/bridges to train on down here that it makes a course like this a nightmare. I just rarely/never practice inclines or declines, so I'm just out of breath immediately. It's such an odd feeling to feel 'out of shape' when running a slow pace. I guess I can focus a bit more on that on some treadmill runs.