5Ks are, by far, the worst distance out there. It’s short enough to be considered a hard pace race, but long enough that you still need to be wary of going out too fast. To place well you need to be prepared for your legs to be burning, your lungs to be collapsing, and your chest to be tightening throughout the entire race as your HR creeps up to its max. You can’t hold back and wait to reel people in like you can during a half or full marathon. Essentially, the 5K is 3.1 miles of all out pain. As a friend said, who wants to run at a vomit inducing pace for that long anyways?
After a solid 2 week recovery and 2 week easy training block to get back into training after Placid, the Boordy 5K was the next race on the schedule. I’ve never heard about the event prior to this year, but I guess it was previously an XTERRA trail race that was taken over by Charm City Run. They call it a “trail” race, although the “trails” made up about a half mile total, while the rest was an out and back on paved road. Either way, I’m down for any race that hands you a wine glass when you walk in and offers top finishers free wine.
The race took place at 6PM at Boordy Vineyards, which is a Vineyard and winery in Baltimore County. It’s a nice little place that usually has live bands play and you can bring a picnic, sip wine, relax, and listen to music. A group of us met at Fallston High School and drove to the Vineyard. After getting my packet (I was special enough to be bib number 69), we did a quick warm up and met up with several friends that were also racing. There was an awesome turnout by Arena Club members and other friends from the Harford County area. The gun went off a 6PM, so we go into the corral around 5:50, placing ourselves just up front in the second row of runners.
With a quick “runners set…” the gun went off and we went. And we went fast! I immediately pushed up to the front and led with another guy. The first quarter mile is a mix of uncut grass, uneven packed dirt, loose gravel, and enough holes to give your ankles a good workout. I was glad to be up ahead after hearing stories of people rolling their ankles because they couldn’t get good foot placement with the large pack of runners. After hitting the pavement, I ran with another runner until the turn around at the halfway point. Up until the turnaround, the course is all downhill. Our first mile was around 5:15. I knew I went out too fast and my legs were already starting to get heavy and my breathing wasn’t in control. I backed off a bit to maintain a 5:30 pace, but still tried to keep up a pace to keep up with the first place guy. He looked pretty comfortable and was starting to pull away. At the turnaround, he was about 10 seconds ahead. Despite the awful feeling of running a 5K, it was really cool to look out over the vineyard and see the sun starting to set over the rolling hills.
The awesome part of out and back courses is that you can see where everyone is on the back portion. I noticed the third place male was a good 15-20 seconds behind me. I felt comfortable enough that I could maintain this pace for the remainder of the course, so I just hoped the guys behind me didn’t have strong kicks at the end. Another fun part of out and backs is you get to see all your friends running as well. I saw Courtney running and she looked strong. She was sitting in first for females. I also saw Aimee from Charm City Run and a couple other Arena Clubers. We exchanged high-fives and awesome jobs and it definitely gave me a push up the hills. (Remember, the out portion was downhill, meaning the back portion is uphill).
By the 2 mile mark, my pace slowed to a 5:38 and the first place guy was pulling further ahead. I took a quick look behind me and didn’t see the third place guy, so I just tried to keep my pace and hope the guy up front would start to slow. Around the 2.5 mile mark I started to kick it a little more and made up some ground on the guy in front, but realized there wasn’t enough race left to catch him. I looked back and saw that my 2nd place was pretty much set in place, so I slowed down a little bit. My legs were destroyed and chest was tight as ever. I looked at my watch and saw 17 and hoped that I could push to get a PR (previously 7:16). Around the 3 mile mark I looked at my watch and saw 7:10 and realized it wasn’t possible, so I just cruised to the finish chute and clocked a 17:22 5K. Not too shabby for minimal speed work this year.
After crossing the finish, I returned my timing chip and gave the official my bib and got some water and just collapsed to the ground. I was pretty dizzy and wheezy. I sat there and talked to the first and third place guys. It turns out the third place guy graduated from the same high school as myself and ran for the same coach. We got some good stories in and watched others finish. A couple minutes later I saw Courtney cross the line (a new PR for her post surgery) and Val and Kim followed close behind. Courtney ended up getting 2nd overall female and Val won her age group. After finishing, we went over to get some food and met up with Kim and Val for a picnic and wine. The wine was delicious. The band that was playing (The Dan Haas band, I believe) was also good. The weather was perfect. It started to cool off as the sun set over the beautiful vineyard and it was cool enough that there weren’t any bugs around. I threw off my shoes, laid back, relaxed, enjoyed wine, and just had a really good time. Overall, it was an amazing race and an even better post-race.
At the awards ceremony, we were each given a glass for placing overall. Val, Courtney, and myself received free bottles of wine for placing overall and winning our age groups. With the sun set and the wine gone, we packed up and headed back home.
The Boordy Vineyards 5K was truly an amazing race. I felt like crap going into the race, but came out feeling awesome. Despite my hatred towards the 5K distance, I was still able to push myself pretty hard and come out with a good result. It wasn’t a PR, but it was close enough. It was interesting to see that, despite no speed work all year, my 5K at Boordy was still faster than my 5K at the Adam Thompson 5K earlier this year. The Arena Club and Charm City runners all had phenomenal performances in a pretty tough field of runners, so congratulations to all of them. Now, I get to sit back, relax, and enjoy my free wine 🙂 Cheers!