Yesterday was the 3rd running of the Firecracker 5K in Reston, VA, presented by Potomac River Running Store. I was on and off about this race up until Tuesday. My recent brushes with injuries was a main cause of concern, since I didn't want to re-injure myself this early in marathon training by running a 5K.
After my run on Tuesday motning, though, I was fairly happy with how both my PF and calf issues had healed. My PF still gives me some very slight discomfort, but the calf issues seem to have subsided. So I went and registered in person at packet pick-up on Tuesday and made the decision to treat the race as speedwork. The plan was to run the first 1/2 mile at 5K pace, do a 1/4 mile jog, and keep that cycle up for 3 miles, then sprint the final .1 to the finish.
When I woke up on Wednesday, though, the weather was rather nice, considering the heat we've been getting lately. I got to the site at 7 AM for the 8 AM gun time, and took a 1.3 mile run to warm up on the middle third of the course. It was after that warmup that I made the call - I was going for a PR today.
The first issue was the crowd - over 1600 runners shoehorned onto a small 2-lane side street, which narrowed to one lane right after the mat. I tried to go as far forward as I thought necessary, because there's always a bunch of people who line up too close to the middle. The gun went off, and I still had to do a lot of dodging, but made it through the first quarter-mile just fine. We turned right, onto Baron Cameron Road, and that's when the first hill came. Another quick right onto Reston Parkway was even more uphill. Since I was on my home turf, I run that road 2 to 3 times a week, so this was a piece of cake. The wheezing and huffing I heard around me made me think others didn't think the same.
At about the 3/4 mile mark, it was a nice down-slope, to a right on Sunset Hills Road. My Garmin said I did my first mile in 8:12, but I didn't hit the 1 Mile mark until the Garmin read 1.15 miles, 9:02 pace. Mile 2 was downhill-to-flat, and I covered that in 7:45. Mile 3 was by far the toughest part of the course. We made a turn at about the 2.5 mile mark onto Cameron Glen Road (at which point I was clocking a 7:50 pace for mile 3), and was met with a nice hill. Making our way back to Reston Town Center was mostly flat with a slight upslope, and the last 1/3 of a mile was tough. But when I hit the 3 mile mark in under 24 minutes, I knew I was gonna shatter my 25:59 5K PR.
I crossed the mat with the gun time reading 25:48 and my watch reading 25:27, 3.18 miles. Gun time alone got me a shiny new PR, and if my Garmin time holds, that would be a 32-second improvement from the 5K I ran in 22-degree temps this past Thanksgiving.
I plugged the time into the McMillan Running Calculator to see what they predict my marathon time to be, and I got 4:08 - all of the other calculations were very close to my other race times from 2012, so I'm really hoping that I can come close to a 4:08 in October. Training for a 4:15, so we shall see.
EDIT: Official finish time: 25:31, 464th overall out of 1729 finishers; 335th out of 772 men; 42nd out of 102 age group 45-49.