This is a great race; the name isn’t lying. I don’t know why I love it so much because the downsides are pretty big downers and the upsides aren’t all that great. It’s fast, it’s flat, it’s always the Friday closest to the first day of summer, but the post-race food isn’t free, and honestly that doesn’t surprise me — it definitely has the “for profit” vibe. A friend was going to have her wedding at this church and they actually wanted to keep any flowers she brought in for the wedding for Sunday’s services — is that even a thing? Come on.
That aside – this race has my PR, which is why I returned. I knew I wasn’t going to PR, but I thought I could definitely make a strong effort. After a rather humid race 8 weeks ago in Virginia, I thought I could drop another minute. Overall my goal was to see what I could do, but I still had a plan. I thought I could nail my first mile around 7:30, then focus on dropping the pace. I know my struggle is keeping my first mile in check, but I thought I could be smarter this time.
That’s how far I was away from going under 22 minutes in the 5k. Just three measly seconds. I laid in bed last night thinking about what I could have done to drop those three seconds – I ran the tangents, the course was extremely flat, I… took two water stops.
I know, I know. What runner who’s decently trained in races of distances through the half marathon takes water stops during a 5k? I don’t even utilize water stops during my half marathons until at least the 5th mile or 6th mile.
I shouldn’t be disappointed. I stopped my watch about a second after I crossed the mat at 22:03. Unfortunately this race was sort of chip timed, as in it was based off the gun time, but it took your chip time when you cross the finish mat… so I can only judge what I have off my Garmin, which I started at the mat even though I was barely trotting (and I was in the front three lines of people!) and stopped after I got the energy when I finished. My time based off of the gun was 22:07.
So, no I shouldn’t be disappointed. I dropped 12 seconds from my previous best in April and now I can officially say I’m faster than I was in high school by 2 seconds. I should be so happy (and I am) but just thinking of that last straightaway when I finally saw the clock ticking at 21:40’s and trying to get under, I was sprinting in under 6:00 but I couldn’t make up for lost time. I was so close.
Overall, the race was pretty good. I think I’ll do it again. The goodie bag suited me well – free travel coffee mug from a local law firm (I love me some travel mugs), a bright green shirt (which I’ll never workout in because it’s cotton), and a fancy pen (love fancy click pens). The chip timer wasn’t there when I picked up my packet on lunch so I had to get it before the race, but they were really quick about it. And you know what? I’m glad that they weren’t ready because picking it up at the race made me run into my high school cross country coach!
I absolutely love that woman. She got me on the right path in high school, was my biggest supporter next to my Mom, and basically gave me the strongest love for running. I continually reflect back on my time with her in high school during my training. Ironically, I was thinking about her prior to running, too. I thought If I PR here and go below 22, I’m emailing her. I don’t care that we haven’t talked in a few years, I want to tell her that I finally did it. And instead, here she was in front of me. We chatted briefly (her husband was running) and agreed to meet up after the race to catch up.
I was already nervous before the race because my hip/groin still bothers me when I walk. It tends to hurt a little to put all the weight on my left leg and bend down (such as putting on pants) and I was convinced that it was going to throw me into worlds of pain after the race. Plus, my runs just haven’t felt stellar lately. I made the decision that if it bothered me during the race or put me in extreme pain after the race, I was going to see a sports medicine specialist. During my warm-up however, I was pain free and felt just okay. My throat was dry and sore from the humidity and heat. Not the set-up to a race I was hoping for.
The course was boring, but very flat and perfect for a PR. I’m a little disappointed at the chip “timing”, but I know better for next time. I always get stuck behind slow pokes so this time I made sure to wedge my way closer to the front so I could see the front line runners. I figured that was good enough until the girls next to me were talking about running 28:xx — come on. So I spent a lot of energy during the first straightaway dodging people and trying to get behind speedy boys who were clearing the path for me.
After the first half mile, I noticed the other high school cross country coach on my left and I was feeling pretty good. I recall her being extremely fast when she races, so I was feeling great about passing her. The first mile ticked and my watch had me at 6:44. No shock, I always go out too fast. And even when I know I’m too fast and I think “I should slow down so I don’t die!” my mind immediately thinks, “What if this is the pace you can hold the entire race? It’s only three miles. Just go.” and I keep going.
Mile two hit me hard. I decided I was going to stay with the pack or pass people, but not get passed. I tried to maintain the sub 7 pace but my stomach was telling me otherwise and I had to slow back a bit in order to keep my pre-race snack down. There were a few times I thought that I should jog it out; I felt that awful. Instead, I kept trying to remind myself how much 5k’s hurt and to just suck it up. At about mile 1.5 I saw the water on the opposite side of the road, away from where we were turning. My split second decision to grab a cup probably cost me those sub 22 seconds. Or maybe it kept me from running a worse race? We’ll never know. When mile two beeped, I was disappointed: 7:24.
At this point I basically gave up hope of getting low 22’s. I felt terrible. My legs were hurting and I wasn’t sure if I was going to pass out or have heatstroke. There was a second water stop and I grabbed a cup, tried to take a sip but it went up my nose and at that point I gave up on the water thing. This was when some little high school girl passed me and I was not about to let that happen. I debated shouting some motivational thing as I passed her again about pushing each other but she didn’t seem like the type to be receptive of it, so I didn’t. About 10 seconds after I passed her she let out a terrifying warrior cry that made me jump and look behind me, plus the guy next to her say “What the hell was that?” I thought she tore her achilles it was so terrifying. I gave it my best push to the final straightaway now that I knew it was close to being over and finished mile 3 in 7:14.
My kick is one of my strongest traits. As I was running in the last .1, I was passing people left and right. Not many people in this race had any kick. As I got closer to the clock, I kept trying to read it but my ugly run face and terrible vision weren’t helping. Surprisingly, I had stopped looking at my watch during the last mile so I had no idea where I was. When I finally saw the clock, it was nearing 21:40 and I knew I could make it if I found another gear. I heard my old cross country coach cheering for me on one side and James on the other and it was incredibly motivating. The thought crossed my mind as I started running sub 6:00 that I might throw up after I stop running. This might be that race. I saw the clock when I crossed at 22:07 and then remembered to stop my watch: 22:03.
I didn’t throw up, but I don’t know if I’ve ever felt that terrible after a run. Why do you have to hurt so much, 5k’s?
I caught up with my coaches post race and enjoyed a beer. Sass is currently pregnant with her second due in August, but wants to run the Grand Island Half next May for her 40th and said she’d loved to get weekly runs in with Cheryl and I once she starts again. I can’t even express how happy I’d be to run again with her.
So the overall good news is the PR, no pain during my run, and even into today no additional pain afterwards. I also got 3rd in my age group, which was totally shocked based off the results from last year and the fact that I’m now a part of the dread 25-29 age group — ew. I received the awesome award of a beer mug, which currently has coffee in it. I have another 5k in two weeks so I’m going to attempt to test out a few things in that run: more forefoot running and a steady 7:00 mile from the start.
Sub 22 is happening this summer. I need to sign up for some more 5k’s… the rest of my races are 10k and 15k right now!