Why the Fear of Finishing Last Resulted in the Best Race I Ever Ran

5K eh? No problem… only this particular 5K, as part of the Red Hook Criterium, was a lot more serious that I’d bargained for when I signed up for it eight weeks earlier.

Before the Crit, my 5K PR was a very modest 25:26, earned just two weeks ago at the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Eileen C. Dugan Memorial Run. I placed 68th out of 260 overall, or 8th of 20 in my gender/age range. Either way, I’m sitting comfortably in the top half.

A quick glance through my NYRR finishes, and I am also usually in the top 50%, with some fairly modest times. So when I looked at the 2013 and 2014 results for the Red Hook Crit’s 5K, I was a little taken aback by how fast the whole field was. How would a 25:26 time fair?

In 2012, I’d have placed 107th out of 112 runners. In 2013 I’d have finished 196th out of 198 runners, and in 2014 I’d have finished 142nd out of 145 runners. Definitely not in the top 50%.

Let’s be completely honest, no one wants to be below average, and being in the bottom half of anything feels like failure. But is that important?

So I ran the race of my life, nabbed a PR of 23:36 whilst I was at it, and finished a respectable 119th out of 134 very fast male runners.

Red Hook Crit
Lap 2, of the 1.25KM loop

Definitely the best race I have run so far. Next year, I’ll break 23 mins.


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