Finish Time: 19:15
Average Pace: 6:08/mile
So this past Saturday I ran the Vinings Downhill 5k - a race that is advertised as the fastest 5k in Atlanta due to the net elevation drop of 200 ft from start to finish. While my opinion is that the course is a bit more rolling than the name suggests, it ultimately lived up to its reputation. This is a fast course.
Everything pre-race was smooth... you can tell the organizers know what they are doing. There was abundant parking for the event. Volunteers were everywhere - from the road leading to the start area, to the parking lot, to the well-staffed tables for bib pickup and registration. There was also a good amount of space available to warm up before the race. And lastly, the event started on time. All good.
Mile 1 (6:11 pace)
I decided to line up about 5 rows back from the start. I knew that I'd finish relatively fast but I didn't want to line up with the elites and HS track stars that were surely destined for sub-16 minute finishes; I know my place in the running world. This was probably a mistake because the race starts with the sickest downhill ever... I'm talking super-fast, buggy-eyed, arms flailing, I hope I don't trip and fall type stuff... and it was a bit difficult to maneuver around the people in front of me who clearly should have been in the back. After a few side steps I passed these folks and glanced down at my watch to see that I was running a 5:02 pace. Yea, no kidding... I just checked my Garmin Connect to confirm this - 5:02 pace! The downhill was sick and lasted about half a mile. After that, the next half mile was uphill - A little over 100 ft of gain over half a mile. On it's own that doesn't sound too bad by Atlanta standards, but it was a tough transition from such a steep downhill. Needless to say, the uphill slowed me down a bit, and I got through the first mile in 6 minutes and 11 seconds.
Mile 2 (6:15)
From an elevation standpoint, Mile 2 was full of very small rollers. For the most part, it felt pretty flat (this is also confirmed by Garmin info). So this mile was pretty even from a pacing standpoint. Halfway through the second mile they had the one and only water table setup. It was at this point that I met up with basically everyone I know. At least six of my running friends were all within a few strides of each other. While it was cool to be close to my buddies, it became an issue when there were only like 2 kids handing out water cups... ONE. AT. A. TIME. So what happens when there are more thirsty hands then there are water cups being handed out... Yours truly ends up empty handed when trying to get a drink. I eyed a cup, went to reach for it, only to get (unintentionally) intercepted by my friend Juan. I then try to make a mad sweep for the cups on the table... the result - I lose a couple of seconds, knock over at least 10 cups, and still come up empty handed. Tragic, lol! But whatever, it's only 3 miles... water is overrated right?
Mile 3 (6:02)
Basically all of mile 3 is a gentle downhill. Here, I find my stride and am comfortably running at an even 6 minute pace. This was, by far, my favorite part of the course. Not only was it a gentle downhill the whole way, I think there was only like one or two turns. So I pushed here... I knew I was pushing because my heart-rate hit 200bpm. Honestly, I didn't even know it could get that high. Sidenote: I have a new max heart-rate to go by now. Still, I felt very comfortable all the way through the finish.
I knew I had a good race but was surprised to get a 3rd place AG award. My finishing time was 19:15 and good for a 37th place finish (out of 1,397). I was very happy with this, especially considering the competitive makeup of the field. The post-race awards, food, and swag were all top notch. All of my friends had great races and stayed healthy - Thank God for that! Oh and I have a brand new 5k PR!
Until next time...