This was a really tough course, but I was pleased with my results. I was hoping to run in the 16:15 - 16:20 range on this course, but between the difficulty of the course and probably going out a little too hard, I wasn't quite that fast today. I do think that this race was at least as good as the 16:12 I ran in the Rockets 5k back in February since that race was on a flat course and had perfect weather.
The temperature at race time was 76 degrees and it was bright and sunny. I got a really good start off the line and was actually in the lead for the first 100 meters or so. I was surrounded by a bunch of high school kids at the start so I wanted to get out quick and not get caught up in traffic. The race started on the west side of Minute Maid Park on Crawford and headed out over the Elysian Viaduct, just like the start of the marathon. About 1/4 - 1/2 a mile into the race we went up the first big hill. Going up the hill on the Viaduct was quite a bit tougher than going up it in the marathon. Sesar Figueroa had a small lead over Sean Wade and Colin Carroll and Vaughn Gibbs. There were a couple other guys between them and the pack I was in. I went through the first mile in 5:15. With the hill in the first mile, I probably should have tried to go for about 5:20 the first mile and then pick it up from there, but I was right in a big pack with Joe Oviedo, Joe Flores and Tom King among others. The course continued down the hill at the end of the viaduct and we basically U-turned as soon as it flattened out and came right back up a nice steep hill. On the downhill I tried to put a little distance between the guys in the pack I was with and I passed one of the guys ahead of me and caught up to another one. At the u-turn I was in 6th place and 5th place was right in front of me. I could see Vaughn Gibbs about 10 seconds ahead of us. I thought I might have a chance of catching him sometime in the last mile.
As we went back up the hill heading towards the 2 mile marker, the guy in 5th place pulled a little ahead, but I was saving my energy for pushing at the top of the hill. Shortly after the top of the hill I passed him and was in 5th place. I went through mile two in about 10:37 (5:22). At this point I was kind of out in no man's land. Vaughn Gibbs had put some more distance between him and me from the turn around and the sun beating down wasn't any fun either. Shortly after this the last guy I had passed and another guy went by me, but I was determined to try to stay with them and not mentally give up. I stayed within striking distance, but they pulled a couple seconds ahead of me over the next 1/4 - 1/2 mile. As we were going down the hill back into downtown, I knew that I needed to push it if I was going to have a chance at catching either of these guys in front of me. I caught one of them with about 1/4 mile to go and I didn't want to look back or give the guy any hope that he might be able to come back and catch me. I passed the 3 mile mark at 16:02 for a 5:25 mile. I knew I was almost in and the guy in front was a little too far ahead, but I didn't want to get caught at the end so I ran as hard as I could down the tunnel. I sort of stumbled going down the ramp about 3 different times, but was able to avoid wiping out. The guy in front of me beat me by about 4 seconds and afterwards I found out he was in my age group so I only got 2nd in my age group. Vaughn Gibbs was about 17 seconds ahead and Colin Carroll beat me by 30 seconds. Sean and Sesar were the only people to go under 16:00. Sesar won in 14:51.
I ran 21 seconds faster than last year on a much tougher course so I was pleased with my race. My next race will either be the Dad's Day 5k in 3 weeks or the Run Wild 4th of July 5k.