Saturday, March 12, 2011

Race review: Dash Down Greenville

Even though I left a bunch of time on the course, I lowered my 5K PR by 32 seconds, finishing in 19:23.

I got the PR I expected, so I did win in that regard. Officially I was 61st of 3808, 12th of 263 in my age group -- higher overall by about a dozen spots but lower in my age group by a couple places than the previous 2 years. M35-39 is no joke.

My tendinitis eased enough to let me get a couple of jogs in this week, but there was nothing remotely close to 5K race pace. I had a good feeling going in that I'd get a PR, but that was just from having a better race plan, not any physical factors.

I started a couple rows back from the starting line and took off like a shot. So many folks were behind me that I worried about getting run over, having been on the other side of that fence before as the one running people over. Toward the end of the opening straightaway I actually felt a little breathless.

As we turned onto Caruth Haven I finally had a little elbow room and settled into my pace. I'd blasted through the first mile in 5:51, a few seconds faster than my 1-mile PR. After climbing the hill on Southwestern and turning onto Skillman, I headed into what was supposed to be an appreciable headwind. It wasn't that bad -- at first.

But somewhere around the halfway point of that mile-long stretch, it suddenly dawned on me that it was starting to warm up in a hurry -- and oh by the way, don't forget that you've got the wind in your face, regardless of how strong it really is. The wind became a crosswind on University, as I started to feel the effects of how little and how slow I'd been running since Cowtown. Is it possible to bonk a 5K?

Fortunately the final turn back onto Greenville came soon enough, and even though a couple more folks zipped past me, I put together enough of a kick to come in right around the time I'd been aiming for. If it's a little cooler next year and I'm a little more appropriately trained, maybe I can have a crack at 19:00.

With a train station just 2 blocks from the starting line and a bazillion folks gathering for the parade, I won't dare drive to this race. But it stuns me that DART continues to show no interest in running extra trains to handle the early birds. This is one of the biggest events in Dallas every year. If you think you're getting on the Red Line south of Bush Turnpike, forget it.

Once you've made it, you'd better get up front if you plan to run this race like you mean it. For a lot of folks, this is either their first race or the only one they'll do all year, so there's a stunning ignorance of protocol. Walkers, strollers, folks with dogs... it doesn't bother any of them to line up right at the front. There was a dude in front of me who wasn't even wearing a chip!

Some of the problems could be alleviated if the folks running the show would just fork over the few extra bucks to close all lanes of Greenville for a few minutes to get things properly underway. The entire course is too narrow, but at least this much would help.

With all this said, it's still a fantastic event, both for the beneficiary (North Texas Food Bank) and the people-watching. This bit is going to get old really soon (if it hasn't already) but I most enjoyed seeing this one guy's green T-shirt that read simply:


6:11 pace last .11

It's a 5K; you get a shirt. Otherwise, the post-race refreshments were pretty standard, and of course there was beer. Thanks to my quick finish I actually beat the line this time, but I passed anyway.

Tyler Azalea 10K, Mar. 26.

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