Sunday, October 5th, 2014 marked the first attempt at a sub-16-minute 5K for me this fall. Several other Roadkill runners including my wife and myself all drove out to Syracuse for the flat and fast Festival of Races. I had run this race four years ago, and tied my PR of 16:24 then, and knew I was in good shape this year. The morning of the race was brisk and the chilly weather encouraged me, as I tend to race best when it’s fairly cold.

The previous few weeks of training had gone very well. In early September, I hopped in the Ovarian Cancer 5K on a whim, and ended up finishing 2nd just a few seconds behind Kenny Goodfellow in a season best of 16:20 despite still being quite sore and fatigued from the Oak Tree Half Marathon the week before. The following week, I ran 6x 1000m + 6x 200m in 3:14 and 33 average, then raced the first Pete Glavin Upstate New York Cross Country race, which went pretty well.

Feeling slow

After PGUNYXC, I felt confident enough to bump up my training a bit. The next week, I conscripted Josh Perks to run a very hard workout with me, one that would prove to myself that I am capable of running under 16 minutes. The plan was to run 2x 1600m, 2x 800m, and 4x 400m, all at 5:08 pace or faster. Our first 1600m was the slowest in 5:03, and then we sped up from there. Overall, we averaged 4:56 per mile, and ended with a 67-second last lap. My mission was accomplished, and I was confident that I was in 15:50 shape.

The week after that, Dave Rappleyea and I ran 6x 1000m on a rolling paved path in 3:11 average (15:55 pace), and that weekend raced the McQuaid Alumni Cross Country race. The course was reasonably flat and very quick for a XC race, and is also only 3 miles instead of 5 kilometers. I ended up running well to cross the line in 16:08 despite a slow third mile.

Kicking hurts

The first week of October,I had come down with a cold, and that showed in my workout. Josh Perks and I did 6x 800m on a cinder track, and I only averaged 2:34. That’s still 16:00 pace, but it felt much harder than it should have and I was struggling to hit that pace. Two weeks before, I had run 2:29 and 2:27 after running two 5-minute miles. Still, I was confident going into the weekend and had formulated a game plan for Festival of Races. I needed to average 3:12 per kilometer, or 5:08 per mile, in order to break 16 minutes. Josh and I arranged to go out in 3:05-3:10 for the first klick, and try to stay as close to 3:10 as possible after that.

When the gun went off, Josh and I stayed close and covered the first kilometer in 3:06, and came through the mile in 5:05. I was feeling good and my cold did not seem to be affecting me. The second kilometer was a bit slower, but still on pace in 3:12. I came through 2.5k in 7:56 and knew I could only run a 4-second positive split in order to break 16 minutes. Josh was a few steps ahead of me here, so I pushed every step of the way and tried to catch back up to him. The third kilometer was even slower yet in 3:17, but I was still one second ahead of pace. I summoned every ounce of strength and willpower to stay with Josh, but somehow the fourth kilometer destroyed any hopes of running 15:59. I split a 3:25, which made me 12 seconds off pace, and meant I had to run a 2:59 last klick to have any chance of accomplishing my goal.

Even though I knew sub-16 was out the window, I wanted to still run well, so I pushed and started kicking from 600m out to run a last kilometer of 3:16 to cross the finish line two seconds behind Josh in 16:16. While not what I was hoping, this is still a certified road 5K PR.

After looking through the results, too, I noticed that almost every single person in the race ran the second 2.5K 20+ seconds slower than the first. The course is pancake flat, so the only explanation is that the breeze, which was a tailwind on the way out and a headwind on the way back, made everyone get out a bit fast and slowed us down after the turnaround. According to Weather Underground, the wind speed was 9.2mph at the time of our race, and gusts that day were up to 20mph. While I don’t remember noticing the wind, it obviously slowed times across the board.

Making up for my missed goal, Ashlie ran an incredible 25-second PR of 21:15 the day after running 15 miles! She is in the best shape of her life and is indubitably going to run out of her mind at the Monumental Marathon on November 1st!

Ashlie running like an animal

Men’s Results
Women’s Results

Next up is the Finish Strong 5K in Greece on October 18th, and Scare Brain Cancer Away 5K in East Rochester on the 25th. With any luck, I will be writing about breaking 16 minutes for one or both of those races!

Categories: Matt's Blog


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