Donny You’re Out of Your Element

Take Steps for Kids 5K

Just before the start of the Take Steps for Kids 5K on the Washington University campus on Saturday Melissa asked me, “So… what are you doing here?”

It was a fair question.

While a road 5K was right in my wheelhouse 10 years ago, I’ve been doing fewer and fewer as I advance in age. That’s not to say I’ve been doing worse at them. The two road 5K’s I ran last spring (including this one) were my two fastest ever. But that was last spring. My last four foot races have been:

Melissa rightly pointed out I was a bit out of my element. And as soon as we started I was inclined to agree with her. The first 200 meters were just about as fast as I’ve ever started. I was sucking wind. Sure it’s been a while since I’ve done this type of race, but I knew this was all wrong. Fortunately the leaders eased off a bit and I got back on terms.


We ran the first mile in 5:30, which was a bit slower than I expected. Just then a guy emerged from the back of the lead pack and forced the pace. I was the second person to follow the move.

One lap to go

In 3rd

Then came the stairs. Which sucked.


It took me a minute or so to recover. Around this time I think the bike who was leading our way took a wrong turn and cut a short distance off the course. Well, at least the entire lead pack went the same way. I passed the number two guy and made chase for the leader. I narrowed the gap a little bit, but it held steady at five seconds for the entire third mile. It was frustratingly close, almost like I could reach out and touch the leader, but I couldn’t close the gap. He looked back (normally a sign of weakness or lack of confidence) three times in the last half mile. I just couldn’t come up with those five seconds.


I finished second place, again. While my time of 16:37 is the fastest I’ve finished a 5K, it probably would have been a few seconds shy of my fastest time if we had run the full distance. But I’m quite pleased to have run faster than last year regardless.

Last year I had been doing speed work leading up to this race, while this year I’ve done none. One difference in my training is that I’ve been spending a lot of time doing easy runs just below my aerobic/lactate threshold. This threshold has been steadily increasing over the past 12-18 months, and (I believe) taking my anaerobic threshold with it. So not only can I now run 7:30 miles without building up lactic acid (i.e. all day), I also have a little bit more top end speed.

All by training slower (for my easy runs).

(Thanks to Melissa for the cheering and photos)

3 thoughts on “Donny You’re Out of Your Element”

  1. Bravo. For the record, I knew you were going to do really well in the race, and as Will and I walked over there, I kept pointing out to him all the college boys you were going to beat.

  2. I was number 3 in that race in the USA jersey. The way we cut the race was still very close to 5k by my Garmin, which read just a little under 3.1mi, within the margin of error of the watch, especially regarding the stairs.

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