I have seriously been bitten by this running bug. I can tell it has gotten me because after having been forced by injury to take time off, I found it difficult to not run. Every day I think about running, and even on days when i ran early in the morning, by afternoon I wonder if I should run a little more because I am feeling good. Of course, that is exactly why I ended up with an over use injury in my heel and ankle. I have cut back dramatically though, just like I should have, so hopefully it will allow me to go forward now without all the pain.
Today was a 5 K run in a nearby town. It was a fairly small event, and didn't have too many people. I liked the course though because it was mostly flat and shaded. As I started the race I did as I normally do, and that is locate someone about 20 feet ahead of me, and slowly gain on them until I catch them. Then look for the next victim. Today however I caught the gentleman and never got past him. The guy I was targeting turned out to be in the 70 - 74 year old age group. It took me a while to catch him, and when I did we started talking a bit about the race. For a few minutes I was actually ahead of him as if I was going to move on, but he never relented. About the second mile he slowly started to pull ahead of me. I checked my watch and saw that my pace was way too fast right then, so i just held my own pace and let him move on ahead. At the final half mile he was a little ahead of me. I waited until the last 200 yards or so before I picked up my pace, and in the end he beat me by one second.
It was fun to have a distraction in the race. We talked occasionally, and when one of us pulled away the other got to focus on catching up. Mostly it was me doing the catching up, but it made things more fun.
In the end, I ran a new PR of 28:22 for the 3.1 miles which came out to around 9:05 per mile average. I think the last 5 K I ran around 9:09 which was my first race, so that was a new PR by default. I am really impressed at how close I am to getting below the nine minute mile average. The fact that I had some sprint left in my legs at the end was a nice bonus. Maybe I can get under the nine minute mile mark yet.
Running a 5K in the 28 minute range when you are in your 40's gets you nothing. The gentleman I was pacing myself with however took second in his age division. So, I have that to look forward to if i can just keep this pace that long.