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Race Result

Racer: Steve Smith
Race: Plaza America 5K
Date: Sunday, April 14, 2002
Location: Reston, VA
Race Type: Run - 5 km
Age Group: Male 30 - 34
Time: 0:16:58
Overall Place: 7
Comment: Ouch!

Race Report:

Plaza America 5K Race Report

By the Heart
I wanted this race. It's a hometown race, and there was a $500/$250/$150 prize money as well as $125 for first Reston resident. But more than I wanted to win, I wanted to race hard, the entire race. I wanted to get into that zone of fast discomfort and stay there, no matter how serenely comfortable slowing down appeared.

In the end this was the hardest consistent effort I've ever put out, hands down. With an average heart rate of 178, and a high of 184 (MHR ~194, I think, but I'm not sure).

By the Mile
The race starts slightly downhill before turning, hitting a small steep hill, two quick turns, and onto the meat of the course with some rolling hills that gradually climb.

Mile 1.0: 5:10

The course continues along rolling hills and mile 2 ends just before first big hill. There is a water stop about 1/2 way thru the course. I try to get water, spill. Try again, spill. Yell "Thanks anyway" at the top of my lungs before turning the corner to hit

Mile 2.0: 10:40

From here, the hills really start. One big guy before making the last turn, and then two hard hills. The last hill is a bugger that goes from mile 2.5 to about 2.8, with the last 300 meters relatively flat.

Mile 3.1: 16:58

By the Mind
Not much from the mind in this race; I didn't want to race smart, I wanted to race my hardest, throughout the race, with my heart. I wanted it to be as mentally challenging as possible. I was a bit confused, however. Part of me wanted a fast group that I could hang with, to push me physically. Yet part of me realized that in most triathlons, I'm racing the clock as I don't generally know where the competition is relative to me. What age group is the race leader in? Did someone in my age group get way ahead of me in the swim?

Problem solved, easily. As I toed the line, I spotted Ted Poulos of Maryland, the only pre-registered person who I knew could beat me. I also spotted a couple of fellows that looked remarkably Kenyan or Ethiopian, and some wiry young dude that looked like he ran 4:20 miles for breakfast. No one from Reston, however.

We start, the north Africans and Joe Youngster take off, and I fall in behind. I'm feeling okay, but they're out for a Sunday stroll at this point. After about 3/4 mile, I realize that these guys are *way* out of my league, and I settle into a solo effort that will last until mile 2.5. This is the hardest part of the race for me. I have to keep this intense effort up in the absolute solitude of my own footsteps. I hung in there; I think I faltered for a brief moment at 1.5, unnecessarily giving up 5-10 seconds, but I caught myself and pushed the pace back up.

By the Hills
At the 2nd mile, I heard them yell out splits for someone behind me (My only inviolate race rule: NEVER look back). At mile 2.5 Ted Poulos caught me. He ran 55:02 at the CB-10 miler last weekend. He gained a few meters on me, surged slightly, and I responded. He gained a few more meters and surged again, I responded, now about 8 meters behind. When we crest the final hill, I take 50 meters to collect myself (ouch, that hurt), and started to regain the 10 or so meters Ted had on me. I got fairly close, with-in one second at the finish, and I gave it everything I had. There was nothing left, not even a second.

By the Finish

I didn't see my time when I came in. I couldn't really see straight after finishing, bent over, gripping my knees with my palms. Ted came back and we shook hands. I was really glad he caught me and reeled me in. Without him, I wouldn't have broken 17:00. God how I love this sport, how I love racing
*with* people.

By the Schwagg

Great post-competition food from Vie de France, Whole Foods ... cases of Odawalla bars (I took home 8), pizza, hot dogs, cookies, danishes. Alas, I was heading out for a 12-mile long run, so I had some sports drink. For an inaugural event, this thing went off like clockwork, a first class race.

By the Competition

I have to admit, when I saw only 65 people registered in late March, I thought I had a chance at the Big Prize ... Yeah, right. In all honesty, I had about as much chance at winning this race today as I do at winning the Big Game lottery. Check this out (edited) preview of the field from the local running report (hey! That's me chasing down Ted about 50m from the finish! ugghh, my form exploded!).


"Andre Williams cruised to victory at Pike's Peek 10k in 29:40, and won the Rockville Twilight 8K in 24:39. More recently, he ran 14:13 at the 2000 Olympic Trials for the 5000M. Kenyan masters runner Simon Karori was named Runner's World Master's Runner of the Year in 2000. Just last year he won a track 5000M in 14:12. Another Kenyan ..." Sheeesh!

Holy smokes!!!! Check out the winning times:

1 783 Andre Williams 30 Arlington VA 14:45
2 793 Reuben Chesang 39 Durham NC 14:51
3 837 Chris Banks 24 Springfield VA 14:51

One of the Kenyans came in 10 seconds after the photo finish, while the last one dropped back "easy" to finish at 16:04. He had nearly a minute on Ted, who had merely a second on me.

I finished 7th.

I knew everyone ahead of me.

I was first Reston resident.

Mission accomplished.

It was only when they posted results that I realized I broke 17 (a first). It's so stupid how breaking an even number really makes me smile, but smile I did. I thought again how glad I was Ted showed up, and reeled me in. And it was only then I realized that another Restonian was just behind me, about 30 seconds, to take 8th place. Steve Ward; I remember seeing his name as a Restonian that beat me by a minute in my first race of the year, a New Year's Day 10k.

By the Moula
$125 check for First Reston Male
$50 gift certificate for 2nd Age Group (last Kenyan in was in my bracket). Not a bad day's work!

By the Goals
1) Race hard, throughout. Check; I faltered twice, once around mile 1.5, alone, and once just before Ted caught me, because I knew he would. Both times I regained my composure and hung in there.

2) Take Best Reston Male prize. Check. I figured I'd focus on goal 1 and this would take care of itself. It did.

3) Win any footrace I find myself in at the finish. Nope. Sacrificed to goal 1. If I'd run a smarter race I could have beat Ted.

4) Run a 16:52. Almost. This was my best guess at my finishing time. Given the hilly course and my lack of track workouts, figuring out pace was hard. If I hadn't slacked briefly at mile 1.5, I would have made it. Another, minor, casualty of goal 1.

Bye Bye