Yesterday’s 5K could have easily been a total disaster:
- For starters- I had taken two weeks completely off running until Tuesday- just days before the race. I had 3 not so great runs and decided to run this race at the last minute. No speed work (and practically no running) does not usually produce a high quality 5K! I did have lots of elliptical time so it wasn’t a total loss…
- Two of my children started throwing up in the middle of the night- hours before the race. (Yes, this happened in March right before the St. Patrick’s Day 5K as well.) John had planned on coming to my race but with two sick kiddos he stayed home to hold down the fort. I would have stayed home as well but I knew this race offered a cash prize and I was gunning for it! John told me he could handle the kids. He wanted me to win!
On Tuesday one of my running buddies told me about a nearby race that was offering a cash prize to the overall male and female winners- $100 each. I looked up who was already registered and did not recognize any of the names so I figured why not! The race itself cost $20 but if I won I was at least up $80. Plus, I’d never actually won cold hard cash before so the thought of winning any amount was exciting.
The entire drive to Newport (about 45 minutes from my house) I tried to tell myself I did NOT have the stomach bug. I would be fine. My legs were fresh. My body would remember how to run a 5K. My last form of speed work was the 5K I ran 3 weeks ago. I did not expect to run as well as I did that day but I hoped I could at least manage a race in the 19’s.
I jogged two miles warm-up with 1 minute at race pace just to get my heart rate up. A 6 minute pace felt hard. Really hard. How was I going to maintain that pace for even a mile- let alone 3? It was already 85 degrees and humid.
As I was stretching a guy who recognized me from The Stride to Prevent Suicide 5K last month, came up to me to make small talk. He had beat me by a few seconds and asked what my goal time for this race was. Then he informed me that there would be some good competition. He told me “Kristen” was racing and she ran in the 19’s all the time. He said Kristen never lost a 5K. I walked away feeling a little defeated before the race even began. Why did I wake up early and leave two sick kids at home to run in the heat- all to get beat?? I heard the negative thoughts seeping in and I immediately told myself to STOP! I could do this. I’ve got years of racing experience and I’ve run good times. If you’ve never lost a 5K then you haven’t run enough of them! Even elite runners have lost their share of races. Harder competition makes you better. I told myself to suck it up and get it done. I wanted that $100! I was determined to have a good race. I prayed that God would carry me these 3.1 miles.
The gun went off and we were off. It was a very simple out and back with just a small add-on at the end. I was in 5th or 6th place by the half mile. The first female- “Kristen” was in front of me but only by a few feet. I stayed back, trying to find my pace. It was a fast start but I felt surprisingly strong. Nothing like my warm-up.
Mile 1- 5:58. This is my fastest first mile of a 5K since college. I knew I would positive split and slow down but I didn’t care. I knew “Kristen” would not be able to maintain this pace if she had never broken 19 minutes. After the mile marker I started to feel the pace slow down a little (6:15- 6:20) and I knew it was time to make my move. I couldn’t afford to slow down below a 6:10. I still felt strong so I decided to pass Kristen. When I pass someone in any race I like to pass them hard. I want them to be intimidated by the speed and not even try to keep up. Is that mean? No, it’s basic race strategy and absolutely necessary in a race as short and fast as a 5K. When I passed her I was running in the 5:30’s and I held onto that pace for a bit. I knew it would probably come back to bite me in the last mile but I just hoped I would have more left in the tank than she did. I honestly didn’t care about what time I got. This race was all about placement!
Mile 2- 6:10. At this point I was 2nd overall but right behind me was the guy who had recognized me from the other 5K. I could hear him breathing and I told myself that Kristen was right there with him. I actually had no idea how much of a lead I had on her but I didn’t want to give myself any reason to let up or get discouraged. It was better that I not know and just keep running! In my head I started counting down laps around a track. I told myself that the $100 was mine. I just had to hang in for a few more minutes! My quads were burning!! Surprisingly enough, my knee was not an issue.
Mile 3- 6:18. The guy right behind me passed me in this last stretch. At a big turn I turned my head to see how much of a lead I had on the second place female and I knew I had it. I just wanted to finish this thing!
Mile 3.12- 0:47 (6:26 pace). Worst tenth of a mile ever. I really had nothing left in the tank. Usually I have a much faster kick but when that guy passed me I was just ready to be done with it.
Total Time: 19:15 (6:10 avg.)
|Need I say more?!!|
|Besides the race t-shirt, all participants received a bag of corn tortilla chips too!|
Immediately after the race I congratulated Kristen for a good race. She really pushed me and I learned a lot from this race strategy-wise. (FYI- She finished around 19:50.) Then I called John before doing a mile cool down.
I came home to a pretty sick house. Ashton threw up for the first time in his life- several times. Poor baby. Hopefully this is just a 24 hour thing.
I took an ice bath when I had a few minutes and iced again later. Still in limbo on my knee situation. It seems to be better on lower mileage runs as well as runs at a faster pace. 5K’s seem to be the right distance for me right now. My next one is in 2 weeks. I’d love to be able to train for it better but it will depend on my knee situation. I am getting closer to the 18’s…. Hopefully I can get my knee in gear and do it!
So back to my first line in this post- this race could have easily been a disaster- or not have happened at all. I am so glad I went ahead and ran it. When it seemed like nothing was going in the right direction it all came together at the right time. Before the race I prayed that God would carry me through to the finish and I know he did. Sometimes I think I put too much burden on myself. I’ve done the training and I know what to do. All the little worries and obstacles are nothing to Him. I ran my fastest 5K in over a decade when I least expected it. During the race God calmed my nerves and gave me complete confidence in my ability and potential.
Have you ever been pleasantly surprised at an outcome of a race?
Do you usually race for time or placement? Do you have different strategies for both?
Kids and stomach bug- would you race?