With a week to go until the USA Half-Marathon Championships, I entered my fourth race in five weeks, the Doughboy Challenge 5k. I know it wasn't ideal for my training, but I like to have fun and be a little less structured if I'm not training for a marathon, so I decided to give it a go.
The race takes place in Murfreesboro, which is the home of The Middle Half, my first ever half-marathon and a well-run event. While checking out the course description, it seemed really similar to The Middle Half: flat and fast. Micah Tirop won the last race last year, so I knew I wouldn't be able to take it too easy. Ideally, I was hoping to run my usual 10k effort but also toyed around with the idea of running two miles a little more controlled before finishing hard.
For my warm-up, I ran the course and there really wasn't a single hill, with big signs at every turn. My Garmin read 3.12 miles, which is dead on for a certified course. The water stops were even already being set-up, which at a race or two I've run in Nashville can't even have their water stations ready DURING the race. I was feeling ok on the warm-up and while the weather was a bit humid, it was only about 70 degrees.
I talked with Micah briefly at the line and a few minutes later, we were ready to go. A bunch of small kids lined up at the front, so I had to dance around them when the race started and a minute later, Micah pulled up on my shoulder. We started hammering pretty early but after about 1k, he backed off the pace a good bit and I only relaxed slightly. It felt like I was running sub 4:40 mile pace, so I was surprised when I went through in 4:46. I tried to stay in that same rhythm and went through the next mile in another 4:46 and closed in a 4:45 to finish in 14:47 on my watch, but with a 14:49 as my official time. The effort was controlled but the pace felt harder than I wanted, considering I am hoping to run close to 4:50 per mile at the half-marathon next week. Micah finished about a minute behind but he's been more low-key this season and while he was tearing up the scene last year, he's been a bit more busy with other things lately. But he's definitely a tough runner and an even nicer guy.
I watched my friend Chris Hanson finish up and we did a cool-down together before heading to the awards. The awards started quickly and had some decent post-race food with fruit, bagels, yogurt and smoothies from one of the smoothie places in town. All finishers received a Doughboy medal and in my race packet, I got two really good Progresso dinners that were gone less than 48 hours later. I don't care about getting stuff like Chap-Stick or sports creme samples, but I always enjoy the food!
The Doughboy Challenge is definitely a race to head to if you are looking to run a PR or are just looking for a run race experience. Since I plan on running the USA Half-Marathon Championships again next year, I probably shouldn't run this race in 2013, but I'll probably listen to the voice of non-reason and go for it again.