I just finished my 5k race this morning and I set a race 5k PR of 19:08 (. . . my group 5k PR is 18:45 but it was a flat course). The good news is I feel great. The bad news is I left too much in the tank and I easily could have run :20 - :30 seconds faster. This is my 4th 5k this calendar year and I'm still working on my 5k race strategy. However, I'm getting closer to understanding hot to attack a 5k race.
Today I separated the race into 3 parts: initial 1 mile, 1.0 - 2.7 mile middle and 400 meter finish. I finished the first mile in 5:54 which was perfect. Then, I ran the next 1.7 miles in 6:19 which was good considering there was a .6 mile hill that we had to loop, then I ran the last 400 meters at 5:42 pace. However, this is where I was too conservative. I should have started my surge at the 600-800 meter mark as opposed to the 400 meter mark. For my next 5k race, I will start my final surge at the 600-800 meter mark.
This was a popular race and the faster runners showed up. I finished 18 overall out of 300+ runners and I placed in my age group, taking 3rd place in the 40-44 age group. I raced in the Nike Katana Racr3's and I feel great so although I'm a bit pissed because I could have easily run a sub 19:00, I'm happy with the overall performance. I could easily go out and do another run so I know I feel good.
This race further confirmed the difference for me in running in racing shoes vs. minimalist shoes like the Evo's. It is easier to run the same paces (and faster) in racing shoes and the racing shoes delay leg fatigue which is key in a 5k race, especially late in the race.
I spent some time speaking to the guy that finished 3rd overall (16:07) and he gave me some great advice on 5k racing strategy and he confirmed that I need to start my final surge at the 800 meter mark as it is too late to surge at the 400 meter mark in a 5k.