Celebration 5K is an annual Independence Day 5K run in Jacksonville, Florida. While I had never run this race, the running store that puts it on uses the course for a couple other events. The course is mostly flat, shaded in the morning, all road, and by my definition, fast.
Result: 19:37, 39th overall, 5th in 30-34 age group
State of Mind: Stoked on an adult PR
Weather: 75, clear, humid, slight breeze
Shoes: SkoraCores with Injinji socks (wore a mid-weight pair for a little extra padding with the ultra minimal Cores)
Very quick report here—I ran this race on a whim, deciding a couple days before. Typically, I only run a few 5k events a year, never this event, but I had a stale taste in my mouth from not hitting my goal time two weeks prior in Run for The Pies where I had aimed to break 20:00 and hit a 20:02. I wanted to average 6:27 or faster per mile, and hopefully eke out my goal.
Originally I was going to go out and watch one of my top runners give it a go, then maybe run the last mile with my wife, but in the end it was the other way around as the runner decided to go on a quick 3 miler by pacing me. We had done this before, three years prior in a beach 5k. The runner in question had planned to help me break 20:00 that day and do it for the first time in his life himself, but I didn’t have it that day, wasn’t quite ready, and he went on his own. During this particular race, he stayed with me, jogging a few steps ahead, and making sure I stayed on pace—not the pace I planned for, but rather the pace he planned for me. At practice on July 3, he had said “You can run 19:38.” Well, he got me there.
Conditions were great for a July, Florida morning, and while it was humid, the 7:30am start time, made things comfortable. I was a bit nervous about using my Cores, I had never raced in them before, but the decision paid off.
I ran most of the first mile myself, with my runner deciding that he wouldn’t race all out somewhere in the middle of it and running back to me. I tried to be steady, to stay on pace, but first miles, whether as a spectator or a competitor, can get away from you. Thus I went out in 6:07. I wasn’t burned out or tired, but I knew that when one pushes a 5k, that the second mile is the mile that matters—guts and excitement will pull you through miles one and three, but mile two is all you. Thus the presence of a supportive, friendly face, one that picked competitors for me to pass and told me to do it, beside or slightly in front of me, made the mile manageable. At times the things he said cracked me up inside (they were my exact words, uttered during races and conversations, being tossed back at me).
Mile two clicked through at 6:25. I hadn’t noticed the shoes one bit. The softer RO2 soles of the Cores, the same soles that worried me for a road race, had been of no detriment, in fact, I never thought about my feet beyond landing pattern and form. Instead this was a race where I thought purely about the race. I pushed through mile three, a slight uphill, a turn from a side street I had run on hundreds of times on to a main road, and confused thoughts in my head. With about 200 meters left, I thought hmm, at 18:30, I should be able to just break 20:00—um yeah, my typical 200 in a workout is a consistent 33-36. Mile three was 6:31, a slight drop in pace, but I was on track, even if I didn’t understand it at the time.
My runner, who was kind of enough to offer me water (I didn’t take it) and to pour water on head (I may have uttered an unkind phrase at that suggestion) pulled off for the last .1, meeting me after the finish, and after :32 seconds, I finished in 19:37, the fastest I had run in 14 years, the fastest since my senior year of high school. Stoked, we talked for a minute, cracked a joke or two, and then I ran the course backwards, first jogging my nephew in and then jogging my wife in, high on the joys of feeling young even when not.