Why start the year with one race when you can start with two? After the Icebreaker indoor races, I think it's safe to say 2017 is off to a fine running start!
I originally planned on only running the 5k distance on Friday evening. But when a friend from the gym asked if I'd be interested in doing the marathon relay on Saturday, I couldn't say no. I've always loved the relay because of the camaraderie between teams and high-energy atmosphere.
With my off-and-on foot issues, Coach Matt and I weren't quite sure how the races would pan out. I set my expectations pretty low figuring the races would serve as a rust buster. I'm still working on building fitness, but the races - especially the 5k - could serve as a training benchmark.
The 5k Race
This was my first time doing a 5k on a track, and I was super excited to give it a try. Before the race started I looked at a pace chart to see the lap splits I needed to hit to get within range of my goal time. Without any hills, uneven roads, wind, etc. to get in the way of racing, this would be a great race to make a PR attempt.
However, in my current state I would not be making a PR attempt so I lined up midpack to avoid the temptation of starting too fast. I was fortunate to find my groove within the first lap or two of the race, and knowing it was only 11 laps was somewhat comforting - I knew all I needed to do was keep running.
One thing that made the race really fun was being able to see all - or at least most - of the runners during the race at some point. Coach Matt lapped me several times and it was exciting knowing he was leading the race. I also got to see Mom several times during the race and was happy to cheer her on during those laps.
Since I wanted to save my legs for the relay the next day, I didn't kick and only did a small surge the last half lap of the race. I'll admit I was a bit disappointed when I saw my time but recognize it was the first race of the year. I also realize I need to learn how to hurt again during a race!
The Marathon Relay Race
This race is always a favorite of mine. It was my 6th year doing the race but my 1st time running as a member of a mixed team (two guys, two girls). Our team name was The Y-Blitzers - named after a class we all take at the Downtown YMCA.
When running this race in the past, it's usually been for a fast time and podium finish. This year was different in that my team was just looking to finish without focusing on a particular time or place. So instead of short two-lap intervals like I usually run at this race, we decided to split up the distance so we all ran three intervals: 12 laps, 8 laps and 4 laps. In a way it ended up being kind of like racing a 5k, 2-mile and 1-mile all in one afternoon!
I was a little concerned the 12-lap segment would feel terrible after running the 5k the night before but it turned out I had nothing to worry about. Shockingly, I actually ended up running faster than I did at the 5k race. I guess it just shows I definitely could have fun that 5k harder!
The 8-lap segment ended up being the toughest. My legs were super stiff and heavy for the first 4 laps and I never got to the point where I felt like I was cruising. I was sure glad when I was done with that one - and even happier when I was done with my final 4-lap segment!
Overall, I think it was a great weekend of running. If it was a test of how things are going so far this year, I think I definitely passed. Although I still have work to do in terms of speed, I'm making progress. And that's a fantastic feeling :)
Tell me: How is your running/racing going this year? Do you feel you're on track with your running or other fitness goals?