Wednesday, September 28, 2022

2022 Aruna 5K Race

This past Saturday, I ran the Aruna 5K race at the University of Illinois arboretum. The race was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 (due to COVID). It's a nice cross country course with only one big hill. The rest is rolling terrain, interspersed with fairly flat sections that are very runnable. The course is a double loop so you hit that big hill twice. The weather was nice, maybe a little warm (sunny, high 60s, slight breeze). During my warm-up, I was optimistic that I'd perform well. I was rested and ready to run hard. My new Atreyu trail shoes were about to get their first real test (and only second run). We had a little rain the night before the race so the grass was wet and there were a couple of muddy spots, but nothing too terrible. Most runners had road shoes (and the eventually winner wore Nike Vaporfly Next% race shoes). 

When we lined up at the start, looked to be about 150 runners (final tally was 153 finishers). As usual, when the gun went off, the kids and young runners took off hard sprinting down the wide grassy course. I was determined to stick with my pre-planned Stryd power target of about 310 Watts (ended up with an average power of 306W). I let the kids run themselves tired, caught them within 1/4 mile, then focused on maintaining my rhythm and power target. There were a few strong runners ahead of me that I knew were long gone, but a couple around me that seemed I could challenge. With a two-loop course, it's nice to hold back on that first loop and see how everyone is doing at the mid-point. By the 1.5 mile mark, I had passed a few runners and no one passed me. By mile 2, it was getting difficult to keep my effort up and my watch occasionally warned me that I was going below my power target (295-320W). OK, push a little harder! With about 400m to go, I tried to "sprint to the finish" but it was more of a "don't slow down" effort. 

I finished with a time of 22:33, good enough for 8th overall and 1st in my age group. Not too bad! I wanted something closer to 22:00 flat, but with wet grass and the big hill (twice), this was a respectable time. Back in 2019, I ran this race in 22:05. I'm happy and still injury-free. My Atreyu trail shoes worked out well. They are light weight and also had just enough extra traction to handle the course. I'll be back in 2023 and I'll push harder to break 22:00. Next race is the Illini Homecoming 5K on October 9 at the university quad. No trail shoes needed. 

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