If you don’t like race reports that are filled with smiles, happiness, flowers, exclamation points and excitement then you should probably read something else. I raced a 5k for the first time since July this morning and it was, simply put, awesome. The 5k has always been my favorite race and also the distance I have the most success with. I’m well suited to the race physiologically and I much prefer a 20 minute suffer fest to the drawn out ickiness of a marathon.
I woke up nice and early and took my time getting to the park. Rather than eat oatmeal I ate an english muffin with peanut butter and drank some coffee. I had plenty of time to digest and made it to the race site with roughly an hour to warm up and get myself in order. The race was held in a really nice park in a suburb south of my house and it was also a race I’d never run before.I was a little nervous because I’ve had a rough couple of training weeks, but they happen and I know not to take them too seriously.
I warmed up with some friends and was surprised that my legs felt pretty good. My watch was basically out of batteries but I was shocked when my friend Christeen said our warm up mile was 7:50 pace because it didn’t feel fast at all. I was really excited to be out racing and had a feeling I’d do well.
Before the race started I copied Aron and took a gu before the race started for a little extra pep. Yes, it was only a 5k, but it was still a race and I still wanted to do well. I noticed something funny during the race– I was really excited and nervous! I had butterflies in my stomach and I could feel my adrenaline starting to surge. It’s been awhile since I’ve had that feeling and it even took a second to recognize what the heck I was feeling!
The gun sounded and we were off! Like usual I started off way too fast but luckily my watch was hanging in there and I was able to reign myself in. I felt really good right off the bat– breathing was under control, legs felt speedy and I was just happy to be out there.
I came through the first mile in 7:03. Yeah, that’s kind of fast. In fact, I believe that is a 1-mile PR for me. Yay! Only not since it was the first mile. I quickly decided I better slow myself down or I’d be risking all kinds of ickiness in mile 3 so I pulled back slightly and cruised through mile 2.
The second mile of a 5k is always the hardest– there’s still much suffering to have, but you’re starting to feel that first mile. I came through the 2nd mile in 7:30 was was also pleased with this but I started to feel like garbage. Labored breathing, crampy stomach, heavy legs. You know, racing!
I started mile 3 and started to feel very, very tired. I pulled back for the first half of the 3rd mile because I wanted to save a little for the finish. I don’t know if it was stupid or smart, but I think it ultimately saved me from completely dying toward the end.
Mile 3 was like any mile 3 of a 5k– difficult. I started to feel the first few miles and just kept repeating to myself over and over, “be strong and courageous, be strong and courageous.” Ryan Hall had a really great article in Running Times about the intersection of his faith and running. Now, I’m not now, nor will I ever be Ryan Hall, but I kind of get what he was hitting on. I felt like God was with me and reminding me to have courage and be strong during this mile. It doesn’t really matter how I do in a race, but I also know God loves me and that running fast makes me happy so maybe he does? Anyway, I kept repeating this over and over and was pretty cheery about the whole thing. I even smiled during Mile 3.
The last .1 of a mile I just gave it everything I had and crossed the finish line in a PR time of 23:35 good enough for 3rd in my age group, 45th overall and 15th woman. I think most of the truly fast women did the 10k, but whatever. I’ll take it.
I am so excited that I finally PRd. It wasn’t by much (my watch actually said 7:30 pace which is a 20 second PR but that’s not what the race clock said so it doesn’t count) but it was a PR. More than anything, though, I’m proud of the way I raced. I really gave the course everything I have and have zero regrets with my race strategy or the way it played out. Negative splitting is ideal, but I ran how I ran and I’m proud that I had the courage to keep going.
I also had fun today. There were tons of happy runners out enjoying the perfect spring weather and although not everyone PRd I think everyone had a lot of fun. I went in to the race with high expectations for myself and I wanted to do well but I also didn’t put so much pressure on the race that I collapsed under its weight. It’s nice that all the early mornings, tough long runs and tempo runs paid off.
Overall, a great race, a great time and I’m so glad I was out there.