Finish Time: 1:03:06
Average Pace: 6:46/mile
Final Place: 25th out of 5,147
On Sunday, January 24th, 2016, I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in Atlanta, GA. As most of you know, I've been dealing with shin splints in my right leg, which basically shut me down for four weeks (starting the week of Christmas). Over those four weeks, I probably ran (see: labored through) about 15 cumulative miles. Finally after several failed attempts at running where I would have to shut it down at the 0.25 mile mark, I decided to stop trying altogether. I took 10 days off where I didn't even attempt to run, and that helped tremendously. I started running again this past Monday and felt pretty good. My speed was still there, but I could tell my fitness took a hit. So after 6 days back on the running circuit, I decided to test things out and see where I stood.
It was cold as &*%$!!!! The race started and ended at Turner Field (downtown Atlanta). I got to Turner Field at 6:10, but the traffic around the stadium was nuts! With nearly 15,000 in attendance for this race (5k and 15k combined), it took me over 30 minutes to travel the 5 blocks necessary for me to park. Aside from a quick trip to the bathroom, I stayed in my car until 7:30 (10 minutes before the scheduled race start). With 10 minutes to spare, I hopped out of the car, used the bathroom one more time, and dropped off some dry clothes at the bag drop. With about 2 minutes to spare, I made my way towards the front of Corral A. I spotted a few of my friends as the national anthem was being sung. A few moments later we were off.
First 5k - 21:20 (6:52/mile pace)
The first 5k of the race consisted of lots for rolling hills, but it was mostly a net elevation gain. My goal was to start out around a 7 minute pace and see if I could pick it up as the race went on. I could see Maurya and Miguel about five seconds ahead of me. I could see Patrick; he started pretty fast, so I lost sight of him pretty quickly. The first 5k of the race was mostly uphill, but I was happily able to stay on pace. I honestly don't remember that much about the course; I just remember it being cold. It didn't take long for me to lose feeling in my fingers; as a result, I had to abandon my plan to take a gel during the race. My fingers were literally frozen stiff, and I was unable to reach into my flipbelt to remove the gelback that I stored there.
Second 5k - 20:34 (6:37/mile pace)
The second 5k had a good number of downhill stretches, which partially explains the pickup in my pace. I was able to close the gap with both Maurya and Miguel and followed them through a good bit of this portion of the course. I run downhill pretty well. I took full advantage of this section; I passed Maurya and Miguel and closed the gap between Patrick and I. Somewhere around mile 5 I actually passed Patrick... this didn't last long. He passed me right back less than a quarter mile later.
Final 5k - 21:12 (6:49/mile pace)
The last 5k of the race was mostly uphill and was all about grit. I was running right behind Patrick and was waiting for a moment when I would feel confident trying to pass him again. I knew it'd be best to wait for an uphill portion. I haven't ran this course before and was not familiar with it at all. But when we passed what used to be the Georgia State Village (now Georgia Tech dorms), I knew there would be a monster hill coming up. You can see the elevation gain below, which lasted for almost two miles. I made my push here. I was able to pass Patrick on the hill and by the time we finally reached the top, I looked at my watch and saw there was only a little over a mile left. I put my foot on the pedal and didn't look back.
The last mile or so was downhill, and I pushed through the finish line feeling strong. I crossed the finish line and reconnected with some of friends (while trying to thaw out my finger tips). Turns out they were all right behind me. Most finished within a minute of me.
When it was time for me to jog back to my car and head home, I could tell that my shin pain was flaring up again. Odd, I didn't feel anything during the race, but the jog to the car was painful. The next morning my shin hurt even more.
With that said, it's time for me to take a break. I am putting the wheels in the garage and taking a month off. Time to REST and RECOVER. No more races for me until the Peachtree Road Race. It's time for me to drop off the radar. Oh, but when I come back.... you will know! And it won't be pretty! Train up folks.