This race is quickly becoming a tradition for New Year's Day. Each year that we have lived in Arizona, my wife's sister and family have come to visit us after Christmas. My brother-in-law, who is an excellent runner, and I have done this race two years in a row now. It's great to have an opportunity to run with him when he comes (even though it's hard to keep up). On one of our runs, we were talking about our goals for this race. He was hoping to run under 18. I have been hoping to run under 19 for months now, but have so far been very unsuccessful. And with the December I had (nearly 2 weeks off with some strange rib pain, and a few more days off with a cold), I really wasn't expecting much at all. But, I love running races, so I was excited for it anyway.
I got a new watch for Christmas into which I can program my target times for each mile, so, with encouragement from my brother-in-law, I programmed splits for a 19-minute 5k, mostly just to test out the function, but also thinking how cool it would be to really run those times.
The course is pretty flat except for a minor hill going out of the park near the start, and where the trail goes under a road at about the 1 mile mark (you hit this hill in the other direction at about mile 2 since it's an out and back course). Leaving the park, I was in 4th place, just a short distance behind my brother-in-law. A short while later, I was joined by 3 gentlemen with whom I stayed with until the turn around. At this point, they all took off. I didn't let them get too far ahead of me, but based on my experience last year, I thought I'd be able to catch them before the finish. There was no one very close behind me, but I did see a large group of runners approaching after I had turned around. This group was lead by several young guys, who looked like they might be pretty quick. This struck a little fear in me, because I really didn't want to get passed by anyone else.
There weren't any mile markers beside mile 1 (where I was 12 seconds ahead of my target time, by the way), so wasn't sure how I was doing on time. I was just trying to get to the finish line as fast as I could. As I entered the park, I could see my brother-in-law making the final turn to the finish, and the 3 guys who passed my not too far behind him. When I hit that turn, I could see the clock, and saw that it was still well under 19 minutes. I had no idea I was going so fast (with this target time setting, I wasn't able to see the total time for the race). I crossed the line at 18:46, only 12 seconds slower than my PR. Unbelievable! I was exhausted, but already thinking about when I'd be able to fit in the next 5k.
I ended up finishing 7th overall, and a little surprised to be 2nd in my age group. Turns out that the much older looking guy with the big, bushy beard who won the race was also in my age group. Bummer. My bro-in-law finished 3rd, and 1st in his age group. Go us!
After the race, we went over to the "Hole in the Rock," and played a bit. We all had a lot of fun.