A few weeks ago, the following post shoed up in the facebook feed for one of my local running groups...
I haven't run a 5k race for speed... Well, maybe ever. Honestly. I set goals for myself, yes, but I very rarely run a race and try to push myself towards a specific time. I just like running. And a 5k in particular always ends up as some sort of "fun run" for me. A color run, an obstacle course race... Something where sheer speed isn't always the goal.
But recently, I had set a new personal record for a 5k while during the course of running a 6k. My Nike+ GPS Watch told me so. My watch recorded a time of 25:31 for the 5k and considering that I had a) run 11 miles the Thursday before and b) the first 3k of that course was all uphill, I felt like setting a goal of a sub-25:00 5K seemed fairly reasonable.
So for the first time ever, I set out to race for a specific time.
I could run fast, even without my dog dragging me the entire time!
After stashing all my extra gear in my car, pinning my bib to my newly acquired promotional tee, and jogging back to the start line, I was ready to go!
I usually start towards the back of the pack. Running with Rory means tangles of legs and leashes and I like to stay out of the way. Plus, at the front of the pack, all you're going to do is get passed. At the back of the back, passing people is like shooting fish in a barrel. It's all about setting your standards low.
In hindsight, I wish I'd started a bit further back than I did. I set off way too quickly and was feeling it within the first half mile. But I settled in to my normal pace, pushing myself enough to know I was going to keep my goal obtainable, but still leaving a little left in the tank.
What did prove to be my biggest undoing was hydration! I'm horrible about being well hydrated in the morning. I had had some water the night before, but also a big burger, tots, and a hard cider at dinner with my mom. I tend to wake up as close to the start of the race as I can manage, which doesn't leave time to hydrate in the morning. I had been sipping water carefully before the gun went off and really wasn't too thirsty during the race...
But when the water station came around at the 1.5 mile mark, I grabbed a cup, planning on taking only a few sips to wet my mouth, and moving on.
Those few sips were the straw that broke the camel's back. And I was the camel.
As soon as that water hit my stomach, I went from happy-go-lucky runner to runner who's contemplating vomitting as a reasonable choice. My stomach started sloshing and moving around like it was doing the electric slide. And I do NOT like the electric slide.
I struggled through the next few miles, which of course included the only hills on the course, alternating between trying to just mentally tough it out and considering stopping to toss my cookies.
I finally came around the final turn, feeling miserable and saw the official race clock:
24:45... 24:46... 24:47...
I kicked in whatever I had left, my stomach going up and down more than an overworked elevator and pushed myself to try and cross that finish line...
It was still a PR I suppose, although since my GPS watch only recorded the distance as 3.04 miles, it's not an official one. But I crossed the finish line of a 5K race in 25 minutes and 5 seconds.
I'll take it.
There were some issues with them logging my time in to the official results, but once we got that fixed, I ended up 4th in my age group. Truth be told though, it was the same weekend as the Women's Half Marathon here in Nashville and pretty sure all the fast broads had taken that route. I certainly wasn't up against the Varsity team. But I had come reasonably close to obtaining my personal goal and I would have to settle for that.
There's still time for me to hit that sub-25 minute mark though as racing season is just ramping up here in the South and I'm definitely much better suited for colder weather. Thanks for teaching me how to run in a blizzard, Michigan. Now I just need Tennessee to teach me how to run in heat wave.
And in case anyone else was wondering, YES.
If you pay my race entry fee, I will wear your shirt. Just consider me your own personal NASCAR covered in corporate logos.
One side note: DONUTS. I'm sure they seemed like a great idea at the time, but post-race a Krispy Kreme was NOT on my to-do list... Although I wouldn't mind one right now!
Until next time...