Result: 17:37, 1st place overall
Pre-race (Race Day): Cold (for Texas) morning, only 42 degrees F, but warm enough to only wear a singlet and shorts. After a slow warm up my legs felt heavy so I decided to run the first mile semi-reserved; keep everyone within striking distance but be sure to not burn out early. As I head to the starting line with 5 min to go (small race), I see about 5 guys wearing racing flats but only two people look fast enough to be competition (neither of these guys happened to actually be competition, they just looked the part). The longest recorded national anthem plays and the wind picks up while I regret my decision to not wear my gloves.
Mile 1: Gun goes off and I stick with my plan. Two older guys shoot off the front, one wearing a Decker Challenge half marathon shirt (he shall henceforth be referred to as Decker) and one wearing a No Excuses Running singlet (he shall henceforth be referred to as No Excuses, as an offhanded note, how freaking cool of a name is No Excuses Running for a running club, also, shout out for putting on a monthly Vern's No Frills $1 5k, you guys are awesome), but I stick with the slower pack, there's no way these older guys can keep this pace up, right? I'm in third and have two high school XC kids on my tail (two of the people wearing flats) around 1/4 mile in when I start to realize the gap that's forming between Decker and No Excuses and the rest of the field. I decide it's still early, but I need to keep them in check, even if I don't reign them in I don't want them to pull away. From mile 1/4 to 1/2 I stayed at an even pace with Decker and No Excuses, dropping the (presumably) XC kids before slowly reigning Decker and No Excuses over the course of the next mile.
1 mile split: 5:46
Mile 2: Just after catching them we take a turn onto a very narrow sidewalk. Decker is in lead while I bring up the rear. The pace is pretty slow but I'm not complaining since I had just caught them. Around mile 1 1/4 is where things get weird, I get tired of the pace and decide to pass in order to push the pace. But, before I even step off the sidewalk the cyclist who is leading the race all of a sudden crashes onto the grass with his bike and another bike beside him. I couldn't see since we were single file and I was in last (I'm also short so I can't see over people) but presumably there was a bike in the middle of the sidewalk that he tried to take off the path of runners while remaining on his own bike. He did not remain on his own bike. We are now running without a leader and I decide there's no way I can push the pace now I don't even know where I'm going. Decker, who is leading, also decides there's no way he can push the pace either so we slow to around 6:15 pace. I sit back and around mile 1 1/2 the cyclist catches back up and we take a left onto a wider road. At this point Decker pulls aside and No Excuses takes lead. He re-ups the pace to 5:45 and we're back to racing.
2 mile split: 6:02
Mile 3: We drop Decker somewhere around the 2 mile mark. Around mile 2 1/4 No Excuses takes a wide turn seemingly as if to say "any help with the pacing?" Which is fair, I had not shared any pacing responsibilities at all so I didn't mind helping out. However, if I'm going to share in the pacing then I'm going to push the pace. I pushed to what felt like 5 s/mile faster, but looking back at Strava was actually about 15 s/mile faster. About 4 blocks later I notice I'm alone. About two blocks and two turns later I run by a water stand where someone cheers for me and then I hear nothing, presumably meaning that No Excuses has dropped the pace substantially. At mile 2 1/2 I take a right and get a good look behind me and can see that I have a ~50 m gap between me and second place. I really didn't plan on making a move until mile 2 1/2 so now I'm caught off guard, but I decide I can't let his gap go to waste so I start to pour it on. The gap widens enough that the cyclist starts talking to me about what's going to happen after I win. I understand that the gap was substantial, but still. Bad mojo to talk about winning before it actually happens. He tells me he's got a Go-Pro on the back of the bike and to smile when I cross the finish. The heck? Dude, I'll focus on winning, then I'll give you a smile. That's what post-race pictures are for. He ended up being right though and I ran across the finish, lifting my arms, because for the first time in over 7 years, I was victorious.
Finish: 17:37, first overall, 5:29 final split
Post-race: I forgot my love of 5k's. After running so many 10k's, 10 miles, and half marathon, this felt like a light stroll through the park. When we took the turn at around mile 2 1/2 I knew it was mile 2 1/2, but it felt closer to mile 1 1/2 because it just didn't seem that far. I think I'm capable of running around a 17:00 with good competition, but like I said, this was all about winning and I really did not care what my time was. It did however happen to be a post-HS 5k PR which I will take any day of the week. Hopefully my legs don't hate me too much after this one since I have the Austin half marathon coming up in a week!