Why so long since my last one? Well, here's the thing: I don't like to lose and I don't race for fun. When I race, I train hard and I race to beat my previous times. After that last 5K almost three years ago, I truly knew in my heart that I was never, ever going to run faster than that. It was everything I had to give. So I stopped running 5Ks and started running longer distances, because hello automatic PRs!
Of course, that ended up slowing my paces way, way, waaaaaaaaaaay down and further convincing me that I would never run a fast 5K ever again. But time has a strange way of humbling you (*ahem*, me) and showing you (again, I'm talking about me) the error of your way of thinking. This year has been all about re-framing my goals and seeing things in a different light. (Let's call this "maturity," rather than "getting old," shall we?) I'm not running anything shorter than a 50-miler at PR speeds these days, but I have found most of this year's races to be incredibly satisfying and/or terrific learning experiences. Case in point, yesterday's not-my-fastest race, which was one of the happiest finishes I've ever had!
|You might have already guessed from the name of the race that the theme was Superheroes! No, I did not run in the cape, but it did provide a nice little photo opp at home.|
I honestly had no idea what sort of a time I should even set as a goal. My previous 5Ks have run the gamut from around 30 minutes down to 23:34, so my pretty-sure-I-can-do-it goal was under 27 minutes. My hope-I-can-do-it goal was 26, and my damn-I'm-faster-than-I-thought-I-would-be goal was 25. I really, really hoped I could hit 25, but the idea of running an 8-minute pace seemed a little outside my current reach. I haven't run 8 minute miles since the last time I ran a 5K!
I did a really nice, thorough warm up, which is something that has become increasingly important the older I get. I used to just give it a little half-hearted walkaround, but now I make sure to run for a good ten minutes or more, plus a handful of dynamic stretches. By the time I finished warming up, it was time to line up and run - perfect timing!
The nice woman from the walk over lined up a little ahead of me, as though she knew I wanted to try and keep pace with her. She was wearing a racing jersey, so I sort of figured my chances of staying with her were somewhere between slim and none. The announcer counted down and we were off!
I went out on the conservative side of hard. I didn't know how my legs or lungs were going to feel and I didn't want to die at Mile 1, so I didn't push it too much. Less than a quarter mile in, though, I knew it was going to be a great day. I felt amazing!! My legs were turning over effortlessly and my breathing settled into a rhythm very easily. Wow!
As we rounded the first corner and everybody was finding their paces, I got passed by a few people. I didn't worry about it. I had my eye on Port-o-Potty girl and she wasn't too far ahead of me. I focused on relaxing and running hard. I reeled in a kid who had gone out too fast. Next up was Hot Pants girl. I felt good and this effort wasn't too much to sustain. I refused to look at my Garmin just in case I was actually going very, very slow, but I felt like I was flying.
At Mile 1 there was a balloon arch and timing clock - nicely done, RD, I totally appreciated knowing my split! - but I couldn't quite make sense of the number I was seeing. I was apparently running a pace in the high 7s and frankly, that didn't compute. I haven't run that fast in years and I certainly wasn't expecting to do it now! I checked my Garmin and the number was the same. Holy cats, this was exciting!
I felt competitive and it felt good. I reeled in more people who had gone out too fast. I was gaining on Port-o-Potty girl. I wondered if maybe there wasn't going to be a mile marker at Mile 2 because it was taking a really, really long time to get there. But, no, that was just my perception. There was another timing clock at Mile 2. I couldn't really do the math, but it was somewhere in the 15s, which meant that I was still somehow miraculously holding a sub-8 pace.
I passed Port-o-Potty girl. I passed Green Skirt girl. I passed Comic Book Shirt girl. I found myself at the head of a small pack with a big gap between me and the next group of people and I heard my son's Track coach in my head, "Catch up to them! Make them do the work!" I caught up. I picked off two teenage girls. I felt 100% certain that I was going to vomit. This was too hard, and I really wanted to slow down. But you know what I wanted more? To not slow down, so I kept hammering it.
The Mile 3 clock came into view. I was so close I could taste it! A woman who had been on the back of my hip caught up and moved ahead. I looked at her and wondered if she would be the difference between third place in my AG and fourth place. I joke all the time about being the Queen of Fourth Place, but it wasn't good enough for me just then. I had more in the tank. I pulled ahead as we rounded the final corner into the finisher's chute and gave it everything I had. One of the teenage girls went flying past me. I choked back happy tears when I saw the clock because I had not even let myself think of a number this low, but there it was anyway:
Official Finish Time - 24:19Overall - 63/692AG - 2/70