I'm beyond thrilled with a smile that will stay on my face for days. I circled this specific race today earlier this year as the race I would try to run my first sub 19:00 5k and I smashed that goal by finishing in 18:24 in the EVO's and I took 2nd place overall.
Before I provide some details on the race, I ran in my Evo's. Yes, I ran in the Evo's and ditched the Nike's.
I didn't say much earlier this week but late last week I switched back to the Evo's and only ran in the Evo's this past week. I knew I was going to go all-out for this race and I just couldn't allow Nike to play any role in my performance. Now, this PR is significantly faster than my previous 5k PR of 19:10 so I guess I'm not faster in Nike :). But, being serious, the difference, which is why I switched back to the Evo's, was my ability to control my body and I had better balance in the Evo's. While the Evo's do provide protection and are not the same as barefoot, they do allow enough ground feel for my feet to communicate with my brain which, in turn, allows me to control my stride much better.
As for the race, the first place winner finished in 18:02 and we are both 41 yrs. old (another major score for us old folks :). The third place finisher was 24 yrs. old and finished in 18:58 and too see his face to finish behind too old guys was classic but he was a really cool kid and I told him, "with age, comes a little bit of wisdom."
This was the first race that I actually exercised discipline and ran my own race and followed the game plan set out by my coach. The plan was to split the 5k into 6x800 meter segments and too hold back the first mile as much as possible. My goal was to run "even pace" and make the last mile my fastest mile. My 800 split times were pretty close at 3:03, 3:04, 3:06, 3:05, 2:59, and 2:55. I'm proud of myself in that I was able to exercise a high level of discipline and not chase after the lead pack during the first half of the race. I stayed just behind the pack and at the 1 mile mark, I was in about 12th place but I stayed to the plan and at the 1.5 mile mark, I started to pass folks and at the 2.0 mark, I was in 5th place, at the 2.5 mile mark, I was in 3rd place, and shortly thereafter, I moved in 2nd place all alone. I could see the first place finisher in sight but no way I could catch him but I had a comfortable lead on the 3rd place finisher so I knew all I had to do was relax and sprint toward the finish.
I had a discussion with the first place finisher and we both talked about the hellish 2nd mile which was straight into the wind. Once the wind hit me, I knew it was going to be around for about 1 mile until we changed directions so I switched my mind set to hill running and shortened my stride and relaxed even more. No need to battle Mother Nature because she always wins. The first place guy is also a sub 3 hr. marathoner and he said the 5k is the toughest race of all the races and he said he runs all distances. I said that's interesting and asked him why and he said, "because you can't make a mistake in the 5k as there is not time to correct a mistake." He is right about that because once you hit the oxygen debt zone, it's all over as there isn't enough time to relax and recover.
As for my body, I feel great. No pain or, even better, no injuries, and my feet feel awesome. Now, I did see several pair of Vibram's :). I saw at least 6 runners with Vibram's and I overheard several of them telling other folks about the advantages of running barefoot, how great the Vibram's are, how cushioned shoes are terrible, how they corrected their form/technique in the Vibram's, etc. I just smiled. There was no reason for me to jump into the discussions but just hearing that was a thrill. That would have never happened a few years ago. And all these runners were younger so I'm confident we will see a different generation of runners.