It’s official. The 5K is definitely my favorite racing distance- period. Up until Saturday I had raced four times in 2014 and did not meet my pacing goals in ANY of them. To be honest I have been a little down and discouraged trying to figure out what’s been going wrong. I wasn’t have fun and enjoying racing. In every race I reached a point of frustration and switched from Plan A to “Survival Mode.” This is never a good feeling.
On Saturday I ran two races and I was able to stay focused and positive during both of them. I pushed myself and most of all HAD FUN racing again. *I should note that I have never raced 2 races on the same day. (Well, not counting high school/ college track meets and it actually reminded me a lot of that!)
The Spring Fling 5K- Race #1 (8:00 am in Cabot, Arkansas)
I only planned on running one race Saturday- the Spring Fling 5K. I ran it last year and it is a very well organized 5K that is part of the Arkansas Grand Prix racing series. It is about 40 minutes from my house and I drove up by myself early Saturday morning. John had a meeting at church and the kids stayed home with my mom who happened to be visiting. One of my sisters lives in Cabot and the course actually went right by her house so she planned on coming out to cheer.
Before the race some of the Cabot Cruisers got together for a quick photo op. I am proud to be part of the Cruisers this year and love all the Grand Prix races.
|Photo from Christine Bennett|
I warmed up about a mile and a half and had a side stitch most of it. Ughhh! Nerves?? I usually get really nervous before 5ks because I know the pace I need to run is fast and hard. I just told myself it would go away and to look on the bright side- this race would last 18-19 minutes as opposed to my last two races were just under an hour and a half. Racing 3.1 miles sounded SO much better than 13.1!
There were not any other women lined up in the very front of this one. But there were A LOT of fast guys. I recognized several from other Grand Prix races so I knew there would be some good competition.
|A few minutes before the start (photo courtesy of Arkansas Outside)|
Mile 1- 5:49. Last year my first mile here was a 5:45 but then I faded fast so my main goal this time around was to stay consistent. I was feeling good and knew I would see my sister soon.
|Around mile 1.5|
|Trying to stay with this local runner|
|Still feeling strong at 1.5 miles|
|My sweet sister was cheering and taking pics around the halfway point.|
Mile 2- 5:55. I was still feeling strong and told myself- only one more mile. Again, after running two half marathons recently only one more mile sounded very doable!
Mile 3- 5:58. I love the finish of this race. You enter on one end of the high school track and go around the straightaway, curve and finish halfway on the other straightaway. Track finishes are ALWAYS my favorite.
|Eyeing the finish line clock (Photo courtesy of Arkansas Outside)|
Mile 3.14- 0:45 (5:20 pace).
Total Finish Time: 18:27 (5:56 avg.) 1st female/ 13th overall. Official Results can be found here.
After the race I ran about 3 miles easy cool-down. I met up with my sister and her girls at the awards. Then I drove home.
The Doubleheader Idea…
For some reason on the drive home I got the crazy idea to race the night 5K. I had originally planned to run it with my son as an easy jog because I knew I would have already raced an all out 5K in the morning. I was feeling great about the Spring Fling finish. I had stayed focused and ran consistent splits. In the back of my mind I wondered if I could possibly run two 18 minute 5k’s in one day. I brought up the idea to my husband when I got home and he thought I should go for it. My sister (who had cheered me on at the 5K in the morning) said she would run with my son so he wouldn’t be alone. I told her I would run back and find them after I finished. (This is usually what I do when my kids run a 5k.)
So… I had a few hours in the afternoon to recover and refuel. Not sure that the chicken sandwich combo meal at Chick Fil A was the best pre race meal but they have a fun play area for the kids so that’s what we did. I did eat a banana about 45 minutes before the race (my usual pre-race meal).
The Light up the Streets 5K- Race #2 (7:20 pm in Searcy, Arkansas)
We arrived about 40 minutes before the race. There was a big bounce house the kids played in and a DJ was playing music nearby. I did about a mile and a half warm-up which included some strides. While I was warming up I could feel how tired my legs were. I thought to myself “this might be a really bad idea…” But I still wanted to go for it.
The start to this one was a little different. The front runners were younger and less experienced than the Grand Prix racers. Several young guys took off SPRINTING and then you have to pass a quarter to a half mile into the race. Still, there were some guys way out front and I found myself settled into 5th place by the one mile marker.
|Lining up at the start (Photo courtesy of Al Fowler)|
|Photo courtesy of Al Fowler|
|Photo courtesy of Al Fowler|
Mile 1- 5:58. I was still feeling pretty good at this point. This course makes two 1.5 mile loops before the final finish stretch so I knew I would be passing by John and the kids again. I was carrying a little flashlight which was starting to annoy me. Last year it seemed to be pitch black during this race so I really liked having the light but this year the race started just at sundown so I didn’t really need the light. I ended up throwing it to John when I passed him at 1.5.
|ditching my flashlight|
Mile 2- 6:04. Yes, I was starting to slow down. I did pass one of the guys in front of me around the two mile marker and I was closing the gap on another.
Mile 3- 5:56. My fastest mile of the race? Right around mile 2.8 I had glanced at my watch and decided to start my final kick. I needed to pass the guy in front of me and this was my best shot. I started sprinting as hard as I could. It worked.
Mile 3.09- 0:33 (5:56 avg.)
Total Finish Time: 18:32 (5:57 avg.) 1st female/ 3rd overall. Official Results can be found here.
Then I jogged back to find the kids. Abi was first and she was moving. She gets so focused and serious- my little mini me!
|Abi around mi 1.5|
|Abi kicking it in at the finish|
Then I ran back to find my son and my sister. They made a great team and had so much fun!
So proud of my racing crew and very thankful for the CHEERING crew. My youngest sister, my mom and John watched the younger kids, cheered and took some pictures while the rest of us ran. It was definitely a team effort!
Post Race Thoughts
Racing two 5k’s this closely together and with such similar splits showed me that I am stronger than I think. If I had that much in the tank left to run a second 5K almost as fast as the first one then I should probably be pushing myself a little more. I tend to make excuses for myself mid race and I think that’s what I’ve been doing in my recent races this year. Saturday reminded me that racing can be fun. I am so glad I was able to run both of these 5k’s. I really think this is my favorite race distance and I am looking forward to focusing my training on them again this coming summer.