A. Run a new PR
B. Run a 20:XX time
C. Not get passed by any women after the first mile
Let's rewind to the beginning ...
Before the race
I woke up about three hours before race start, took a shower and ate breakfast - a banana and apple cinnamon pop tart without icing. Mom and I arrived at the race about an hour before the start and took a 20-minute walk to check out the start and finish lines. Then we visited the bathroom, checked our bags and headed back to the start line. I started my warm-up but ended up having to cut it short because there were too many people milling around the area I was trying to run. I was nervous about not getting in any strides but didn't really have a choice.
A welcome distraction from the usual pre-race nerves was running into my coworkers Michelle and Lisa. Michelle snapped a quick selfie of the three of us before we wished each other luck and lined up.
Selfie by Michelle!
While standing on the start line, I reminded myself - run your own race and do NOT go out to fast!
And ... of course I went out too fast. My plan was to run the first mile at 6:49-6:50 pace and, depending on how I felt, either hold onto that pace or drop the pace for miles 2 and 3. I also planned to divide the 5k distance into quarter mile segments to help stay on pace.
However, I wanted to stay within range to potentially place in the top 3 women so when everyone else went out fast, I had to as well. I ran the first part of mile one at 5:40 pace. And soon after felt like dying. It was a depressing way to feel knowing that I still had the majority of the race in front of me. And I was only the 4th female about halfway through the mile.
Luckily, I was able to tuck behind a few runners and regroup mentally. I decided to toss my quarter mile segment plan out the window and instead focus on effort throughout the rest of the race. As soon as I did this, I was able to make it past two women in front of me and into the 2nd female position.
Already feeling the fast start to the race
I really paid the price for my poorly paced first mile. But, at least there were things to look forward to such as the turnaround point. And then I knew I would get to look for Mom, as well as Lisa and Michelle. Getting to see all the other runners as I made my way back after the turnaround was just the boost I needed to get through this rough patch. Getting cheered on by other runners and being told I was the 2nd female helped me stay motivated to keep on pushing.
This is the point that I really had to start reminding myself of all of the training I did leading up to this race as well as playing little games with myself, such as you only have to make it to that tree 20 feet ahead. I couldn't hear any footsteps behind me so knew I must have a decent lead on whoever was in 3rd and also couldn't see the woman in 1st so knew I probably couldn't catch her.
As I ran past the place where we started the race, I knew there was only about 0.25 left in the race. I had trouble working up a decent kick as I neared the finish line so pretended I was running a fast lap in Y-Fuse. There were a few times in Fuse this spring that I practiced running so hard that my legs went numb by the end of the lap. So even though my legs felt like jelly during the end of the race, I knew I could push through to the finish line.
With my 2nd female plaque and AG medal!
Although I didn't run quite as fast as I hoped, I was pretty pleased with how I did. It actually made it extra satisfying to know I was able to push through the challenges after a fast start and still PR. The struggle was real - but well worth it!
As always, I ran back on the course to find Mom and run her in. She had a great race and finished strong!
Now a few days removed from the race, I have a few takeaways that I'll use when planning my upcoming races. The first is that I really don't race well when tied to a watch. I race my best when focusing on effort and using my natural competitive streak to fuel the miles. The second is that I need to learn how to avoid going out too fast so I don't burn up extra energy within the first mile. It would be much better to save the sprint for the finish!
A gorgeous new medal to add to my collection!
My questions for you:
- What do you think - race by watch splits or race by effort?
- What are your recent race takeaways?
- Random - but timely: How are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?
*Based on gun time