This fall, I had one goal and one goal only: to run under 16 minutes for a 5K. Everything I have done since June has been with that singular goal in mind. In June and July, I increased my mileage to 80 miles per week, and following a mediocre Boilermaker 15K, I initiated started running hard workouts targeted towards being able to cover five kilometers in less than 16 minutes.

The first 5K of the season was a fitness check at the Bergen 5K in August. Having only completed a few workouts, I wasn’t expecting much. I realistically assumed that I could run in the 16:30-16:40 range if I had a good day. After running very even splits, I wound up finishing in 16:25, which buoyed my confidence and motivation for the fall.

Lean wolf leads the pack, baby!

At the end of August, I ran the Oak Tree Half Marathon, which is a very hilly race in Geneseo. Originally my goal was to win, but an appearance by Kip Tisia, Kenny Goodfellow, and a slew of other fast runners nixed that. Plus, four miles in, my quads started to cramp, so I shut it down and jogged in for 7th place. One week later, my legs were still sore, but I jumped in the Ovarian Cancer 5K with Kenny, Ashlie, Dave, and Derrick to support our teammate Heather Bailey Ostrander. Despite not having high expectations, I ended up running only three seconds behind Kenny in 16:20. Given this progression, I would only need four more races until I broke 16:00!

French fried taters, mm hmm

Getting out fast

Next up was the Syracuse Festival of Races, an event that is primed specifically for producing fast times. As it is the National Masters’ 5K Championship, there are a lot of fast guys there. Fast old guys. My plan was to hang with Josh Perks, and outkick him with my younger, faster legs at the end. I stayed with him for 3 kilometers, and then he used his older, faster legs to stay ahead of me through the finish. However, I was able to run a new certified road 5K PR of 16:16! Still on my way!

After that, I targeted the Finish Strong 5K, which has historically been a very fast race. This year, however, they introduced a 15K option, and apparently all of the fast people chose that distance, and I was left to fend for myself in the shorter race. Running all alone into the wind, and passing the pace car several times, I broke the tape in 16:52, nearly one minute short of my goal. Temporary setback!

The last race I had scheduled was the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5K in East Rochester. I had participated in this race last year, and knew that the course was pretty flat and usually attracted some big names from the area. Luckily, this trend continued as Kenny Goodfellow, Josh Perks, Derrick Jones, and Zach Rivers all lined up with me, along with many others. I went out hard with Kenny and Zach for the first mile, then we started to string out. I tried to stay with Kenny, but couldn’t quite close the 3-second gap he had opened on me. Knowing Josh was right behind me gave me sufficient motivation to keep from settling into an easier pace. I managed to stay ahead of him, and once again finished 3 seconds behind Kenny in another 16:16.

Looking scary anyway

Upon reading this, you might think that I am disappointed, distraught that I did not achieve my only goal for the second half of this year. Truth be told, while I do wish that I had been able to run a 15:59 on the roads, I realized that it just simply wasn’t in the cards. I trained as hard as I could, stayed healthy, and gave 100% in the majority of my races. Road races are not necessarily the best venues for chasing times, as the course, terrain, weather and competition can all affect performances. All I know is that I ran two 16:16s, which is the fastest I have ever run on a certified course, and picked up more prize money than I ever have before. I showed that I can be a contender on the local level, and discovered some additional nuances of training that I can incorporate into my next cycle. So for now, I am content with my training and my times, but now the eye is on running fast on some track 5000s next spring.

For now, bring on the base miles!

Categories: Matt's Blog


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