Last weekend, several of my friends were off running a 50-mile trail race and various marathons, so I feel a little wimpy talking about my 5K. I have learned that while I enjoy racing up to the half marathon distance, I don’t really like racing marathons and sometimes I feel like a lesser runner because of it. Saying “A 5K” when people ask what you’re training for sounds underwhelming, but enough about my distance insecurity.
This was the first of three 5Ks leading up to my goal race in May, and I was looking forward to running the distance again. I had talked with my coach about it, and the “strategy” was to go out hard and see what I was able to do. Last year’s time was 22:28, and I wanted to go sub-22.
I could rattle off the names of several women in town who run faster than I do, but I didn’t see any of them when I picked up my number. I started to think, Could I actually win a race? Then I saw my friend Jamie, who is much speedier than I am, but she’s been injured. Next I saw Pam, who also usually beats me, but she’s been dealing with injury as well. I visited the potties, had my Chocolate Cherry Clif shot, ran an easy mile, and it was race time.
It was a gorgeous, sunny morning. I’m not the most well-traveled person, but I believe that Southern Arizona in the spring is one of the most beautiful places in the world. I tentatively took my place directly behind the starting line. I like racing with men, but sometimes it’s nice just to compete against the ladies. The course was simple: three loops around an outdoor mall, complete with quick descents and steady climbs.
The first section was a fast downhill, and I went for it. I was in the lead, and it was strange and exciting. I was wearing my Garmin, but I wanted to set my pace by feel for the most part. I was able to entertain thoughts of winning for about three quarters of a mile until I was passed by the eventual winner. Someone who has more experience leading the pack might have tried to catch her, but it was still early and I wanted to keep running my own pace. I think it was a smart move, because she ended up beating me by almost two minutes.
My Garmin beeped at 6:21. I question the accuracy because it was another twenty seconds before I crossed the mile marker and it was also a second faster than I have ever run a stand-alone mile. A couple of other women passed me before we headed back to the steepest downhill section of the course. I surged past one of the women on the decline, but she overtook me again once the course flattened out. Jamie passed me around the mile and a half mark. By this part of the race, I was starting to feel the strain of my fast start. I though about running off course to shop when I passed Ann Taylor (a clothing store, not a person). No, not seriously – they weren’t open yet 😉 I started catching up to the walkers and had to weave through some of them.
My second Garmin mile split was 6:52, which was a lot closer to what I was expecting. This time the incline leading back to the street felt much steeper than before. I started to hear shouts of “Go Caroline,” but I didn’t turn to see how close she was. My mental DJ selected Linkin Park’s “Bleed It Out” as I tried to stay strong for the last half mile. Jamie was no longer in my sights.
My Garmin showed 7:13 for the third mile, and I felt like throwing up by this time. The last part of the race was uphill, and I dug in. I was starting to pick it up as I approached the finish line, and then I heard an announcer say ,”This is going to be a race to the finish.” Somehow I was able to squeeze out a little more and finished less than a second ahead of Caroline. I was fifth overall with a time of 21:55. Even though each mile got progressively slower, I was happy with my race. Sometimes you need to go out hard and test your limits.
I ran a couple of cool down miles, refueled, and chatted with some friends. I also met a few new people whose names I recognized from past race results. There was a “Fun Photo Booth” set up, so some of us grabbed some goofy headbands and got our pictures taken. Free race pictures were posted on Facebook later that day, which is always nice. Out of respect to everyone who was out for an enjoyable morning of shopping that morning, I decided to head home and keep my sweaty self out of the stores. Thank goodness for anntaylor.com.
Race data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/279932298