Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Racing 5,000 Meters

8 minutes, 50 seconds into the race:

Ok, here it is, you're in 3,000 meters, and you're going to drop out.  Just drop out dammit! You're a longer distance runner anyway.  Your body is going to shut down.  Just get a workout in and call it a day!  Who cares about the 5,000m?  You are not feeling good...

I felt as if I would fall over if I kept going...


May 13, 2013
Swarthmore Outdoor Track Invitational
Location: Widener University

The warm-up was always relaxing.  I preferred doing it alone, as I always do.  I needed to stay in my own head.  Sometimes things can get a bit crazy out there.  I could see my breath in the crisp cool air of the night.  It was quite cool out, almost cold.  I yearned for a hat but didn't bring any.  Fortunately I had a pair of gloves with me that I wore pretty much up until the start.  And no, the reason for me wearing them is not for comfort, but more for preventing the body from wasting energy trying to keep itself warm.  Cold weather is good for a distance race, but its important to not lose energy trying to keep from freezing.  It was quarter till 9 O'Clock in the evening.  This race is always late.  For some goddamn reason they run the 5K as the last event of the day.  I couldn't really eat anything substantial during dinner-time, so I snacked on some pretzels and peanut butter and washed it down with a bunch of water.  Fortunately, the meet was running ahead of schedule, so the 5K would start approximately at 9:45.  There were 3 heats(about 25 runners in each heat), and I was in the fastest one this time around.  I have never gotten into the fast heat of this race.  Time to get on the pain train.
As always before a 5K, doing strides are essential. I did a few and felt pretty good.  I had my Nike Victory Track Spikes on which probably had only a race or two left in them.  Doesn't get better than that.  They are completely molded to my feet.  I wasn't as nervous as I usually was.  Well, I was nerved up, I suppose.  But my mind was calm.  My mind had already accepted that the pain would come, and that it was ready for it.

I lined up with 25 men, some who were club runners like myself and the rest were collegiate runners.  I lined up as #15.




I sprinted to get a solid position and as close to the inside lane as I could.  I was in the 2nd lane.  Dammit.  We all jostled for position like wild animals.  I then sprinted past a few guys and locked myself on the inside lane.  Then someone shoved me.  Thanks for the boost.  34 seconds for the first 200 meters in.  Not too fast.  I relaxed on the next straight -away and let some guys go by me.  What was that, a 69 for the first lap?  Somewhere along there.  I wasn't wearing a watch.  I wanted to run this race by feel.  1000 meters in I hit 2:55, so I was running a solid 4:40 pace.  I think I hit mile 1 in 4:40 or 4:41.  I then began the journey.

The journey of suffering, that is.  I believe, that if you run the 5K right, it can be just as hard if not harder than the marathon.  Ok, well maybe not harder, but it certainly can be fucking excruciating.  It is a different type of pain, yes, but when you are running at your maximum aerobic capacity, you feel as if you can't go on, just like in the marathon when your dead legs tell you can't go on.

It's already hurting.  After 4 laps already?  My stomach wrenched in pain.  My breathing labored.  I was suffocating, gradually.  Jesus, RELAX!  Get through the next few laps.  Break up the race.  Stay on pace, dammit!

I pushed through mile 2 and began to fall off pace a bit.  I went as hard as I could without having to stop.  Or did I?  7 1/2 laps in, I felt it.  The desire to drop out.   

Ok, here it is, you're in 3,000 meters, and you're going to drop out. Just drop out dammit! You're a longer distance runner anyway. Your body is going to shut down. Just get a workout in and call it a day! Who cares about the 5,000m? You are not feeling good... 

An instant passed and within a split second I felt I had lost grasp.  I felt like it was going to happen.  My body was not ready to go on, no matter how much I tried.  I felt as if I would fall over if I kept going...


...but then it happened.  I passed the 3K mark in 8:50, and my legs pressed on for dear life towards the 2 mile mark.  I must've passed through 2 miles in 9:26 or so.

Focus!  Concentrate!

I had 4 1/2 laps left and my body did not want to keep going.  But my mind concentrated on the runners ahead who had gapped me.  I locked my eyes on those ahead, and I started to catch them, one by one.  Others who were in pain and slowing down.  I surged and then coasted by them with 3 laps remaining.  I was starting to make my move.  Keep going, dammit!

The pain got no more worse, but I felt like I had so little left.  Would I have enough??

800 METERS TO GO!  12:33 on the clock.

800 meters, dammit, that's all you have left.

I surged around the track for yet another grueling lap as my lungs went into oxygen debt.  1 1/2 laps to go, my body screamed to stop. Jesus, just hang in there!!!  I caught up to another runner but he passed me back.  I could see another runner not too far in front of him. 

13:45 with 1 lap to go!

I dropped the hammer like a son-of-a-bitch and surged all out, holding nothing back, and passed the 1st runner who had passed me earlier.  The other runner was still ahead.



200 meters to go.  Everything felt blurry at this point.  I could still see the runner ahead, reigning him in.

Just a little more...

At first I caught him at the beginning of the last straightaway, but then my legs gave out with 75 meters to go, and he passed me back.

Well I guess that's it, I'm just not a kicker...

..Ah, there it is!

The right leg extended out a bit furthur, the arm swing a bit more powerful, as I beat my competitor to the line.


I gasped for air.  I bent over.  More than exhausted.  It didn't sink in yet, that I had beaten the guy in the final sprint.  It didn't sink in yet that I had run 67-68 for my last quarter, and run a new PR of 14:53.

It was a great kick.  And I'm proud of it.  Even though I hadn't won the race(final results listed me as 19th out of 78 total of all 3 heats), I had beaten my opponent in the final sprint.  I do not have the reputation of being a good kicker, and there are many races where I have PRed, but lost in the final sprint.  This one, I can claim as a victory.



  1. Glad you didn't let the demons win. They always try, but demons be damned!

    Nice PR and a solid season. CB was a fluke per the wind, so you would have been 3 for 3 had there been good weather.

  2. What an awesome read dude. Great story telling. Felt like I was watching it real time. And what makes it even better is to know that runners as amazing as you are suffering like us slowpokes. Truth is, you're willing to suffer a lot more and that's part of what makes you the better runner. Congrats. Tremendous race.