Since Liz and I are working my run fitness, I was really happy to find a new 5k race on the same course that I PR'd in March.
I PR'd the 5k in March; then again at Nationals (last month).
My plan consisted of completely new strategy: Go out as hard as I can and see what happens. The 5k is short enough where you don't have to hold back. Of course, there are consequences. If you don't hold back, well.....it's a lesson in pain management. If you do hold back, you wonder what you could have done.
I chose the lesson in pain management.
For the first time ever, I looked at the other runners and decided to line up in the front. I chose a nice little spot behind the guys that looked super fast. Yes, I was totally judging people based on their looks.
The countdown started.
The horn went off.
I immediately regretted lining up at the front.
Once again, I had no pace goal or time goal. I was really hoping to PR. I checked in with my pace at the half mile, 1.55 mile, 2.5, etc. For the most part, I race by effort.
I ain't gonna lie. This 5k really hurt. I was in pain before I even reached the turnaround.
I kept saying to myself, "Just hold this effort. Whatever the pace is, just hold the effort. Once you hit the turnaround, that's when it's really going to count."
I kept my eye on a woman in a tutu. All of a sudden, I realized I was catching up to her. I focused on her with the goal of catching and passing her.
If you race 5ks regularly, you'll notice a difference in how people race shorter races versus longer races. Anyway, MY experience is that in a half marathon, if you pass someone during the race (not the end), they won't really fight you on it. You can catch them, pass them....and you don't really see them again. Everyone is pacing their own race. (That could just be because historically I'm a middle of the pack runner.)
In a 5k, if you pass someone....you are racing them. As soon as I passed the tutu, I felt her on my shoulder. I really really wanted to shake her off.
I started pushing the pace a bit more. I hit the turnaround and saw her about 3 cones behind me. That's when I saw another woman cut the course. She was about 5 cones behind me and sure as shit.....she turned around and was now ahead of me.
None of us like cheaters. I don't know her age group. But there were not many women in front of me. She very likely took a podium spot from someone because of what she did.
The last 1.5 miles is about guts. Nothing else. What do I think about?
"12 minutes, and it's over. You can do this for 12 more minutes."
"With a half a mile, I want you to go as hard as you can."
"Your legs will do whatever you tell them to."
"OH GOD I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE."
The cruelty of this course is that it is an out and back along the top of a dam. Perfectly flat, but it's a mental course. You can see the turnaround from the start and the finish from the turnaround.
I knew at the last bend that I had a half mile left. That's when I thought about all those half mile repeats I'd done at ridiculous paces.
I can do this. I know I'm super close to a PR.
Quarter mile.......I can now see Mr. Tea (who wanted to see me race since he missed my season).
I can't smile. I can't wave. I just need to focus. I'm staring at that DAMN finish line, which doesn't seem to be getting any closer.
That's when the clock comes into focus. I'm going to break 27 minutes. For the first time ever, I'm going to break 27 minutes, but it will be close.....painfully close.
I start running with everything I have left.
When I cross the finish line, I'm dizzy. I can't even stand.
I knew I was really close to breaking 27 min. Did I do it?
Mr. Tea came up to me. I still couldn't stand up. He said, "YOU DID IT. You broke 27 minutes! 26:51!"
Wow. I did it. I'm *in* the 26's now.
We walked back to the car.
That's when I found out that I was 3rd F40-49 and 26th overall (male and female) out of +500 runners. (I'll have to double check that 26th later. I'd really like to know where I was among women. There were not a lot of women ahead of me.)
My first running podium......and I left the race.
Who would have thought that I'd finally podium TODAY????