Navy Yark 5k 2015 – Race Recap

by Sara on June 8, 2015


I came, I raced, I did not conquer.  I ran an all out terrible race {strategically speaking} but I came out the other side knowing without a doubt where my fitness stands and what I need to work on to get better.  In short, it humbled me in the best way possible and it was exactly what I needed.

If you needed any indication that I was making a last minute decision to run this race, you just had to take one look at my outfit.  I raced in leggings.  Yes leggings, as in tight synthetic fabric mixed with spandex made into pants that cover {almost} your entire legs.  Leggings are great, I love them, but I’m a shorts girl all the way and you better believe that part of my night-before-the-race ritual involves shaving my legs in prep for competition.  Tuesday night there was no prep, there was no outfit picking out and instagram photo taking.  I barely even remembered there WAS a race the next day, I had gone to the gym tuesday night and rode the stationary bike for 40 minutes then came home and murdered {read = did more than a measly 10 crunches} my core.

Oh no, I was definitely planning NOT to race on Wednesday afternoon.  I had bigger plans, and by that I mean I wasn’t feeling like I was in great shape to begin with so back to back races would probably be a pretty dumb idea.

Signing up for this race is always a no-brainer, it’s free for anyone who works at the Philadelphia Navy Yard {#jobperks} and the most incline on the course is a speed bump.  The only downside is it’s the first week of June and starts in the middle of the day so there is a pretty high potential for being miserably hot and humid.  Except two years in a row we have gotten a magical break in the weather.  That’s right I woke up Wednesday morning {also National Running Day if you remember correctly} to a pleasantly chilly and overcast day.  I posted a quick pic on the Insta and was then reminded about the Navy Yard 5k taking place that day.  All of a sudden I went from, “No way no how am I ready to run this race.” to “The weather is perfect, what if by the time Sunday rolls around it’s super hot and I kick myself for not just going for it today.”

So into my gym back I threw the most haphazard and last minute race outfit, a towel and some shower stuff and texted Ralph on my way out the door to work.

“I think I’m going to go for it and just race today, what do you think?”

“Feeling up to it?” He replied back

“I don’t know.  Packed my bag just incase.”

“Can’t hurt to just try for the first mile and see how you feel.   Treat it like a tempo run and don’t go out full speed.”

“You think I should?”

“Yea why not the weather is perfect and it would be a good judge of your speed for Sunday.  Try to hit around 8:45 – 8:30”

“Oh screw that, If I’m doing this I’m going all out.  8 minute pace or bust”

By the time I got to work I had made up my mind, I was running this thing and I would just give it my best shot.  It psyched me up a little bit, to be racing again, even if I knew it was going to take a while to get back to my best.  I hadn’t felt the pain of a 5k in so long I just needed to go through that again so I could start figuring out where I had to improve.  Just like last year, the morning flew by in a blur of emails and meetings as I tried to figure out the best plan of attack.  Most people usually get changed into race gear and then walk up to the start but I like to go against the grain {aka I always forget that they save the swag bag until the end so you CAN get changed and then walk up} so I hustled my but to the other end of the yard and picked up my bib.  I was already sweating, my heart already pounding, and it was taking everything just to calm myself down.  What the heck was I freaking out over, I just needed to stay calm.

Number acquired and race outfit on I posted one last photo, tossed my phone in my bag and headed out for a warm up jog.  My heart was still racing which made me feel out of breath when I shouldn’t and I actually had to stop and give myself a pep talk.  I was also waiting for my Garmin to get satellites so win win.  I am not in PR shape.  My goals were to not go out too fast, and to try to run negative splits.  {also not to throw up, that’s pretty much a given by now} I wanted to have a strong finish and a smart race more than anything.  I’ll be happy to come in at 25 minutes at this point.  Just do 25 I kept telling myself, you’ll be fine with 25.  I did about a mile and a half warm up, a few quick strides and I was feeling ready to go.  I was actually feeling fresh, maybe too fresh, because I hadn’t run since Sunday.  It was going to hurt, I knew that, but I could keep going.  I could push myself.

Here goes nothing.

The Race
“On your marks, go!” was all it took and we were off.  I lined up way too close to the start line, the course is chip timed but like most races age group awards are calculated off your gun time only.  This usually leads me to getting super close to the front, but off to one side so I am not in anyone’s way when they surge past me.

I felt good, people were flying by me left and right but I knew I was doing the right thing by not getting caught up.  I knew the course well and I knew where I started dying last year and that I didn’t want to feel that way.  But just like last year I went out way too fast and 1 mile in I was already dying.  Just after the 1 mile point you make a 90 degree turn onto a sidewalk which heads directly towards my office building.  I actually thought about not finishing the race and just running as hard as I could back to work.  That’s how much I knew the rest of this race was going to hurt.  My first mile was an un-maintainable 7:45 pace, and my second mile had slowed down to a respectable 8:06 pace but that 3rd mile I had run out of energy.  I had gone out way too fast, I was going to pay for it for the next 8 minutes and 45 seconds.  Once I realized I could not quit I slowed down so I could catch my breath even just for a few seconds.  I have no idea what kept me from going forward at that point, I just kept moving.  I wanted it to be over.   The last mile stretches on for what feels like forever, and you think its flat but after many nights running around the yard you realize it’s actually the slightest of slight inclines.

It took everything in me to keep moving and I managed to finish around 25:30 which is far from my personal worst but is definitely not my ideal time.  I grabbed a bottle of water from one of the volunteers, jogged past the finish for about a minute or until my stomach decided to settle and then stopped to catch my breath completely.  I had done it.  I had run one of the worst races in years and survived.  Oh and I take some really flattering finish photos huh?  You tell 100% that I am out of energy at this point.


The Takeaways
Let’s start with the positive, my form felt better than it has for any race in the past, my cadence was just about perfect, and there were points in that last half mile that I pushed through pain like I have never done before.  I raced without the help of music and I was super proud of how much I was able to push at the end.  The only thing holding me back was wanting to keep my breakfast in my stomach, which I think is a fair goal to aim for.  I also ran without my trusty compression socks, but that had everything to do with my lack of outfit prep.

Negative, I’m not as fast as I want to be, but I also went out way too fast and could use a little more practice on my race strategy.  At least now I know exactly where I stand and what I need to work on.  I have done zero speed work, and minimal miles since my half marathon only a month ago so the fact that I was able to go out and merely survive a race that hard should be reason to give myself a few pats on the back.  I now remember what it’s like to take a ride on the 5k pain train and I’m ready for the next race.

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Liz@NovelRunner June 14, 2015 at 10:33 pm

I wanted to do this race when I heard about it (a few friends did it) but then I realized it was only for people who work at the Navy Yard! Even if you didn’t race as fast as you hoped, you still got in a great workout and that’s what counts. I think you actually look pretty lively at the finish line, compared to how I usually look! 🙂

Sara June 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm

It’s true it was a good workout and I felt great the rest of the day knowing my run was not only over, but I gave myself a nice hard “speedwork” session.

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