5k’s hurt. They hurt bad. Yet every time I sign up for one and in the days leading up to the race, I always seem to forget. I think in my head, “It’s only 3 (.1) miles.” And I am not nervous. I am just excited for the racing atmosphere and the possibilities of (age group) podiums, PR’s and running fast.
Then right before the race starts, I always remember the pain that I am about to bestow upon myself. My stomach turns to knots and my legs all of a sudden feel like lead and I freak out! I mentally revise my race plan to be more conservative and I remind myself that I haven’t tapered and I bike 25 miles yesterday and I ran 10 hard miles Sunday and, and, and….whatever other excuse might apply.
Then the gun goes off and I am running. And I am inevitably going faster than I should be so I pull back, but not as much as I would if I were sticking to the newly-revised-conservative-race-plan. I am now running a fast (for me), but manageable pace and I am going after that goal time that I started with….
This is exactly how my last 5k went down and yesterday was no different. But let’s back up a little first…
I arrived at Furman University’s campus at 7:30 with plenty of time to park, find Char and Jesse to give them their race bibs and get in a solid warm-up. Everything was going just as planned and we even had time to get in some strides after our steamy 1.5 mile warm-up. Then as we were heading over to the start line, there was an announcement that the race was being delayed by 30 minutes. Yikes! That’s a long time, considering the temps were already in the mid-70’s and climbing quickly. By 8:30, we should have been finished, not just starting!
We went back to our cars, drank some Nuun, chatted for a bit then decided to do another warm-up mile before heading back over to the start.
Finally at 8:30, and 80*, we lined up at the start with nearly 1100 other runners…
You already know how the mental game was playing out at this point…
After about 1/2 a mile, I settled in to a 6:55 min/mile pace, which is right where I wanted to be. Jesse took off and I was quickly separated from Char. I stayed on the inside of all of the turns and just slowly picked off people that had started too fast down the hill.
Other than one small hill just after mile 1, the first half of the course was pretty flat and the pace didn’t feel labored until just before the half-way point. I was seeing paces between 6:50 – 6:55 and tried to hold it there. Once I hit 1.5, I suddenly felt that I-am-going-to-vomit feeling that comes when you are pushing your body really hard. Char pulled up next to me and I was happy to see her and feel the push of her pace. We fell into stride, like we have for so many hundreds of miles together.
It was hot and when I saw a water stop ahead, instead of flying through it like everyone else in front of me, I slowed a little to grab a cup and throw back a mouthful of water. At the time it didn’t feel great, but I am so, so glad I did this.
In the next 1/2 mile I was still feeling puke-y and was getting cranky at a guy who kept weaving in front of Char and I. I muttered something to him about running straight, then followed Char’s lead as she pulled around to pass him.
Shortly after, we hit the 2-mile point and my watch beeped at 6:57. Then all of a sudden, I was feeling strong again (the water?). I pulled away from Char and continued to pick people off. I even saw Jesse up ahead and tried to slowly reel him in.
At 2.5 we hit the biggest hill on the course. It wasn’t long, but was steep enough to break my stride and I saw 7:0x min/mile on my watch for the first time. I pushed hard up the hill, then tried to regain my stride once I got to the top. I was very grateful for a guy who gave me a little “great job up the hill” as we crested it together.
In the last 1/2 mile, I caught up to Jesse and tried to talk to him, but couldn’t get anything out. He told me later that it sounded like I was really laboring as I was trying to talk and he thought I was just breathing that hard! He fell into stride with me and we pushed through the last 1/2 mile together before turning into the stadium. Mile 3: 6:56. The turn into the stadium brought a nice downhill and a view of the finish line. I picked it up as much as I could and left Jesse, but not for long, as he came sprinting past me in the last little stretch and beat me by 4 seconds! Final 0.1: 5:54 min/mile.
Overall Chip Time: 21:24 (6:54 min/mile). Overall Gun time: 21:32.
First place in my age group, 116 overall, 13th female.
I don’t really know my 5k PR, but this is the fastest time that I have run that isn’t in a triathlon. And since tri race distances aren’t usually certified, it is hard to tell if any of the faster times were on courses that were actually 3.1 miles. I am very, very happy with the time! It is 18 seconds faster than the one I ran in May, in much cooler temps, on a course with a similar profile.
This confirms the feeling that I am getting a little stronger and faster, thanks to some aggressive speed workouts over the last couple of months. It also makes me a little hungry to go after that sub-21:00…despite that the distance hurts so much!
I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day & lots of fun with family and friends! I hung out at the race to get my award and watched the pie eating contest (hilarious and gross), then celebrated with a long walk with my neighbor and our dogs, a 3 hour nap and a great dinner + fireworks with friends last night!