As always, let’s just skip straight to the good stuff mkay?
23:47 chip time. #PRcity.
Overall – 90/1031
Females – 23/595
Age Group – 6/175
But now let’s back up and start at the beginning. Thursday’s workout was just hard enough that I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to be too sore/tired come Sunday morning. And then Friday I woke up feeling like I was getting sick. You’d have thought I was prepping to run a marathon the way I rested from Friday night until Sunday morning, but better safe than sorry right? I drowned myself in OJ and carbs Friday night, went to bed as early as possible and slept in and then rested as much as I could on Saturday. It worked like a charm and by Sunday morning I was feeling great, aside from the whole nervous about running a 5k thing. I knew before the race even started that I was going to PR, it was just a matter of how much. Since I like to set my sights nice and high I was aiming for sub 24:00. Anything sub 24:00 would be ok in my book. 23:59:99? Yup that counted. But after my time trial on Monday pointed towards a predicted time of 24:01 I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do. All year I have been riding this high of improvement, and then at Hartford I went out too fast and paid for it later in the race. Go out too fast in a half marathon there is plenty of time to self correct, but go out too fast in a 5k and you’ll pretty much want to die for 3 miles. So what was I going to do? Give it my all and just hope I could pull it off or play it kind of sort of a little bit safe and then maybe kind of sort of a little bit regret not pushing so hard.
I woke up SUPER early on Sunday morning. In fact all I did was change my 5:05am (I like random numbers) “F*ing Early Train to PR City” alarm from Hartford to Sunday instead of Saturday. Yes that is actually what I named my alarm. I need all the extra reminders I can get to convince me to leave a warm bed on a cold morning when it is still dark out. It took me about 5 extra minutes of scrolling through hipster-gram before finally getting out of bed. Thank goodness for a puppy that is happy to get up no matter how early as long as there is breakfast involved. I, on the other hand, moved much slower eventually forcing myself to eat a bagel with butter and brew some coffee that would help convince Ralph to wake up. One thing that always gets me pumped and ready no matter what is music so I popped in my headphones and had a little impromptu living room dance party. Each race I have done this year has brought different mistakes, and this time I was determined to do everything right. Eating enough before the race. Leaving enough time for bathroom visits both before leaving the house and once we got to the race. Taking my inhaler with me. And you know, actually using it. Having enough time to warm up. I think I got too prepared because I ended up getting the race start time wrong by 30 minutes. I thought it started at 8am but the gun didn’t go off until 8:30am. At least I wasn’t 30 minutes too late.
It was cold (40ish degrees?) at the start but I was dressed in my lucky spandex shorts, neon yellow compression socks, a long sleeve UA heat gear top and my trusty Nike “speed skater” jacket (it’s a tight fitting hooded jacket that when zipped up pretty much reminds me only of this). I wore gloves and the jacket for my warm up but ended up ditching them for the race and I’m glad I did. Two warm layers together would have been too much. I had every intention of doing a nice easy 3 mile warm up followed by some quick pick-ups to warm up my legs but at just about 2 miles I realized it was 10 minutes to 8. At this point I still thought the race started at 8am so high tailed it through some trees and back to the start where Ralph was waiting and told me I was wrong about the start time. I was both relieved (to have more time to do pick-ups) and annoyed (all warmed up and had to wait another 40 minutes). The whole time nerves are just accumulating inside of me and I bounce back and forth between, “Sara you are going to crush this race” to “Sara I really hope you don’t totally screw up this race.” The biggest question in my mind was the asthma, I took 3 puffs from my inhaler before starting the race but I was still afraid running fast and breathing hard would put more cold air in my lungs than my body could handle.
Finally it was time to line up. I’ve gotten in the habit for smaller races, of lining up right behind the start. Or at least behind anyone who looks like their going to win the whole race, but close enough to the start that if they decide to use gun time instead of chip time, the two times don’t end up being that different. That, and I’d rather have people pass me for the first mile than have to dodge people and get slowed down. I made that mistake in Cape Cod and won’t make it again. The guy in charge of timing came up to the start and after giving us the usual “how’s it going?”, says “Anyone going under 20 minutes, toe on the line. Anyone over 20 minutes, take 5 steps back.” Put me in the camp of people taking 5 steps back because sub 20 was not exactly my goal for the day. Next year? Maybe. Eventually? Only time will tell. But today? No and thank you. “There will be two commands, ‘runners take your mark,’ and the gun. If the gun does not go off I will say, ‘bang’.” But the gun went off and then so did we. I tried not to get caught up in the rush of runners but when I looked down at my watch sub 7 pace was starting back at me. So typical, I take off from the start and then spending the first mile forcing myself to slow down. The 1st mile marker came up before my watch hit 1 mile, but even still I was running much faster than planned. I wanted to be running just above 7:45, maybe 7:50 at least for the first mile but I was already taking off around 7:35 pace. Sure it doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s only 10 seconds a mile right? But I just wasn’t sure I should be pushing that fast. The race was literally flying by and I’m not sure what I was even thinking about other than just stay strong don’t run too fast. I watched a few girls take off past me but it wasn’t a big deal. Sub 24, that’s all I wanted was sub 24. Sub 24. I passed the 2nd mile marker still holding around a 7:35-7:38 pace. Two thirds done and no turning back now, I was going to have to hold on to this pace whether I liked it or not. The course was relatively flat with a few gradual inclines, nothing I would even call a hill but I wasn’t exactly coasting either. At one point I was literally shoulder to shoulder with this one guy and I couldn’t tell if I was matching his pace or he was matching mine but it kept me pushing for a good quarter mile.
Before I knew it we were in the final stretch. I had held onto my pace the whole way, and I was about to not only hit my goal but crush it. The usual feeling of running-so-hard-I-think-I-might-throw-up was starting to set in and all I wanted to do was be done with this race. I held on as hard as I could and pushed as hard as I could with out losing my breakfast across the finish line and then blazed past all the volunteers, jogging until I felt relatively back to normal.
I had done it. I had set a scary goal for myself and then I had smashed it. I did exactly what I came to do, run under 24 minutes and end the 2013 race season at my best. Ralph and I hung around for a while waiting for the official results to be posted. I devoured donuts, water, and lemonade elated to have just finished the best race of my life. 6th in my age group, it’s not exactly placing but it’s a huge jump for where I’ve come from. Basically it was an awesome race, and I couldn’t be any more proud of my time. I’m kind of disappointed that the season is over, but happy with all the progress I’ve made and looking forward to a few weeks of easy running and mileage building.
Even if it is on the bore-tastic treadmill.