When is a PR not a PR?

June 10, 2006

When it’s run on an uncertified road course, of course.

Last night was the Fremont 5K, the second race of Project IMPROVE (Improve My Personal Records that are Old and/or Very Embarrassing). This race went better than the previous one even though I got outkicked for the win by Kyle Smits, whose college PRs at Georgetown represent a level of fitness that I will never, ever attain. My time was 15:03 (rounded up from 15:02.3 according to road race convention), which is better than my college 5K track PR of 15:06. But the course was changed this year (new feature: uphill finish to avoid construction!) and hasn’t been certified yet, so perhaps I’m still stuck with the 15:06. Or I could defend the 15:03 based on the testimony of race organizer Brian Oster of Pro-Motion Events, who writes: “While it’s true we didn’t have time to certify the new route prior to the race (the final version wasn’t approved by the City until late last week), I went over it twice with the wheel and can guarantee that — assuming that everyone went the correct way — it not only wasn’t short, but was actually 10-12 feet long.”

I pride myself on being a smart racer, and sometimes that pride is actually justified. The Fremont 5K includes a 5 x 1K Briefcase Relay in which a phone book-containing briefcase is passed like a baton, and I used the relay exchange zones to check my 1K, 2K, 3K, and 4K split times, thus getting more frequent pace feedback than I could get from the mile markers alone. The splits were rather pretty, too: 3:01, 6:00, 9:03, 12:02.

After the race, my entourage (L and her sister) joined me at the Olympia Pizza and Spaghetti House II in Wallingford, where I celebrated by ordering a baklava sundae. The guy sitting next to us, who ordered the same thing, must have overheard me yapping away about the race. When my sundae arrived, he said as he rose to leave, “That dessert will add 15 seconds to your 5K time. I used to run under 14 minutes … but look at me now!”

Thanks for the nutritional tip, dude. Remind me to show up at your next birthday party so that I can return the favor.


  1. The scary part is, through 3k you were hitting about the same splits as the NCAA meet last night. (And you didn't fall too far behind at 4k.) Even scarier: the 10k splits were notably faster.Despite prevailing wisdom, I think it's harder to run fast on the road than it was on the track, so this is almost certainly a higher-quality performance.

  2. Congrats on your new PR! I definitely would have rounded down though… 🙂

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