Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nicolet Bay 5k Race Recap

Isn't it funny how a plan can go completely off the rains - but you can still, more or less, end up with the outcome you wanted? That's exactly what happened during this year's Nicolet Bay 5k race. Although I ended up falling off my race plan pretty early - like within a few steps off the start line - I still achieved two out of my three race goals, which were:

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!

Mile 1
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

Mile 2
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.

Mile 3
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. 

My race results:

Time: 21:14 (new PR!)
Pace: 6:50 min/mile
Gender Place: 2*/403
AG Place: 1/58
Overall Place: 10/622

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?

- ST

*Based on gun time


  1. Congrats, Sun! I have found that I race better when I race by effort instead of watch splits...I tend to get really focused on the numbers instead of how the run feels.

    Celebrating Cino De Mayo chilling with my new puppy. Hubby is gonna make margaritas with dinner :)

    1. I'm the same, Laura! The perfectionist in me tends to panic if my splits aren't exactly on pace so sometimes it's better to not know :)

      Margaritas sound delish!

  2. WELL DONE, my friend!!!! That's so awesome!!! Congrats on the win and PR! I love that you always go back to finish up with your mom. If ever I can convince my mom to run a 5K with me, I will do the same thing. :)

    1. Thank you! And you must convince your mom to do a race with you - and Betty, too? Three generations running together! :)

  3. Mmm...your pre-race breakfast...my kinda carbs! :) Great job, Sun! You did so well! That's so amazing that you were able to pull off a PR after a start that felt a little fast for you. Way to stick it out! I love races where you get to see the other runners as you turn around...nothing more motivating than watching hundreds of people trying to catch you haha! The watch thing is a tough one. I feel like I need it for the beginning to avoid going out to fast/slow, but then I tend to get distracted with it too much in the middle portions. Homemade chicken burrito bowl for Cinco De Mayo today! What are you having!?

    1. I agree - a watch during the middle miles can definitely be distracting. I sometimes look at mine too often - and then get really sad when I see that I've only gone like a tenth of a mile since the last time I checked. Ha!

      A chicken burrito bowl sounds great! I'm leaning toward making a spinach and cheese quesadilla for dinner. A friend recently gifted me with a jar of mega hot verde salsa and I think it will be a perfect pairing :)

  4. I was thinking about you the other day and wondered how you did.
    WOW! That is a super fast first mile, I am totally impressed by you! CONGRATULATIONS!!!! #2 is so awesome and a PR to boot:)
    Great job you are seriously one super fast runner!!

    1. Thanks Kristy! It was a fast start to mile 1 - if only I could maintain that pace throughout the race! ;)

  5. Congrats, what a spectacular recap. I found my best races have been by effort (I use to wear a HR monitor to gage it), but this past year I've been sticking to the watch with mixed results (I like my numbers). Great picture of you and your mom!

    1. Thanks Jenny! I've never used a heart rate monitor but it sounds like a great tool to race by effort. Congrats on your 8k over the weekend!

  6. Most recent race takeaway? All races aren't about time, some of them you just need to have FUN!!

  7. Most recent race takeaway? All races aren't about time, some of them you just need to have FUN!!

    1. I agree, Sue! I'm hoping to have one of those races in a few weeks :)

  8. Congrats on the PR speedy! I totally go out too fast in 5ks - I always do, and I know I shouldn't but I always get caught up in the crowd!!! Actually my PR Is probably the one time I didn't....probably should learn from that but I doubt I will! :)

    1. I agree - blame it on the other runners! Haha :) It's so hard to let the group go - and have confidence you can catch them in the latter part of the race.

  9. excellent job sun! that is a great time! i tend to go out too fast too but really in a 5K it is balls to the wall the whole time so there's that. :)

    1. Thanks Nikki! That's a good point - 5ks should hurt! :)