Race: Race For Hope 5K

Posted on May 6, 2013 | 2 comments

Wall of Hope

This month marks Mom’s 27th anniversary (month) with glioblastoma multiforme (Grade IV/the worst brain cancer). She’s now more than doubled the average lifespan for those afflicted and continues to go strong.

Pre-race hugs

Back when she was diagnosed in 2011, some of her friends discovered that the brain cancer research race was just a few months away  and in DC. They became team captains, recruited a bunch of folks, we raised a lot of money, and the Race For Hope 5k has become a yearly tradition and will continue to be.

This year, Mom was fresh off an appendicitis so she was unable to run like she did last year, but was able to provide some much-needed encouragement at the finish. I’m certain that she’ll be spotted sprinting down Pennsylvania Avenue again next year.

My race… Running has been an afterthought as I’ve been focusing on the bike racing thing, which has been a mixed bag. I’m getting about eight miles in per week, which is barely enough to consider myself a runner. I know, you’ve heard this story before, but a fact is a fact and it’s very much worth mentioning because cross-training really does work better than most would lead you to believe.

In the middle of last week, I stepped onto the track for the first time all year to do a mile time-trial; I had no idea what the outcome would be, but it’d guide me in selecting a pace for the race a few days afterward. The result was staggering. My GPS says 5:07 and the track said 5:30. Considering traffic, I’d say it’s safe to assume my actual time was somewhere between the two. Regardless, even the “slow” time is at least 20 seconds faster than I thought I was capable of. If it really was sub 5:10? Damn. I’m approaching my high school abilities (4:43 best) without running.

And then my allergies hit. Both Thursday and Friday I should have stayed in bed. I didn’t, and think I only prolonged the suffering. As of Friday, I wasn’t running the race. Miraculously, I began to feel quite a bit better on Saturday. By Sunday morning, I was near 100%. Sitting here Monday, I’m back to about 90%, which means running yesterday likely wasn’t the best thing for my long-term health, but I digress… I was good enough to race yesterday.

With a sub-6 handily under my belt and my adult PR being a 6:02 pace (18:47) about four years ago just before my hamstrings blew up, I decided that I’d shoot for sub-6 and see what happened. My last 5k was 19:08 back in November. Over the past couple of years I’ve slowly approached where I was when I was in my “adult prime,” but I was still a good bit off and with no speed work under my belt this year, I was probably getting a bit silly, but what have I got to lose? If there’s ever a race in which to pain yourself for a short bit to see what you’re really made of, this is probably the one… That pain is immediately minimized when you glance around at the survivors and realize how happy they’d be to trade shoes.

So sub-6 it is. Funny I should end the last paragraph on “shoes.” I’ve used the same pair of racing flats for around six years now. They likely only have about 150 miles on them as they’re solely (no pun) used for racing, but they’re old… Without taking a good look at them, I laced up and hit the door. Upon arriving at the race, I noticed there was a lot of loose gravel in the right one. I empty it and in doing so “see the light.” The light that is a result of a four inch separation between the upper and lower on the outside of my foot. Ugh. I don’t think it made much of a difference running-wise, but I made my way to the concierge at The Willard and wrapped my foot in packing tape. Duct tape would have been way classier, but beggars can’t be choosers. I now sounded like a box being cut open with every step, but I felt more confident that my shoe wasn’t going to continue to rip into two.

Sequoia this, Dad

The race begins and I make my way toward the front. In having done quite a few charity races, I know there’s a lot of folks up front who shouldn’t be and the traffic will cost me precious time. Not today. I find some open road with about 20 folks in front of me, check the watch to zero in on my pace, and hit cruise control. After about half a mile, I found myself running comfortably with another man. We were clearly working off each other so we began to chat. The conversation was about as meaningful as one can be at 5:55 mile pace, but I did manage to apologize for my clicking shoe. Like me, he actually liked how it was keeping the pace. We ran together another mile or so before I pulled ahead. Mile #1: 5:56. Feeling good.

Mile #2: 5:51. In last year’s race, this is right where I began to lose my strength. This year, I felt great despite the headwind shooting across the pool in front of the Capitol and straight into us. Others clearly didn’t have the strength that I had and I began to pick them off. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… And then I fell comfortably into a gap that I would hold for the rest of the race.

Mile #3: 5:49. Negative splits? Hell yeah. This feels good. Except it doesn’t. It hurts like hell. And then I see Mom and the crew, realize how little it really hurts, take a peek around (nobody close, front or back), and continue to cruise to the finish for a finish time of 18:25 (5:55 pace). 15th overall and 2nd in age-group (the 1st guy was top-3 overall so he doesn’t count… hehe) Note: Races are usually a bit longer than the prescribed distance due to traffic, not taking the absolute best line around each corner, etc. (that explains my miles all being faster than my “overall race pace”).

An adult best by 22 seconds and a minute faster than last year. Hell yes. My first time running a sub-6 5k since high school. It’s looking to be a great running season, which I’ll continue to train for primarily by cycling. Next goal? The 17s. At that point, I’ll need to pull out my records and see what my “youngster best” was.

My next race is possibly a training criterium this Wednesday in Greenbelt followed by a road race in Poolesville on Saturday. I need some sleep and Claritin…



  1. I thank you so much for everything this week, especially the Race for Hope. I am keeping a smile from ear to ear knowing how nice it is to have a daughter and son run like the devil to make me happy and to support finding a cure. I am happy about all those that donate, ran, walked and participated in any way. Love you all!

  2. Happy 27th Monthiversary Mrs Collins!

    Mike, you definitely look leaner in the face than I remember in the first picture.


  1. i a m m i k e . o r g | Race: Race for Hope 5K - […] Posts from previous years: 2014, 2013 […]