After my 5k a few weeks ago, I was planning to back off racing that distance until we had some better weather. But I got a lot of encouragement to do a few more, even if they’re just for fun, and use it as speed work. So at the last minute this week, I came across another 5k near our house and signed up.
- Stay positive and have fun!
- Hold back just a little in the first mile
- Maintain a steady pace
- Break 21 minutes
I knew it was going to be hot and humid again, but since it’s been consistently warm the last two weeks, I was hoping my body would be more prepared. I stepped outside and was pleasantly surprised to find a bit of a breeze masking the 72 degrees and 99% humidity. I jogged almost 2 miles to the start line, barely breaking a sweat and feeling encouraged. What a difference from the last 5k, where I was already struggling to breathe in the warm up jog!
As we lined up, I tried guessing who would be a good pacer. I’m always amazed at how difficult it is to gauge this! All body types and sizes were lined up behind the 6 minute pacer, and I could only pinpoint one all-muscle girl who looked like she would fly!
As we took off, I purposely held myself back to find a comfortable pace, a lesson I learned after sprinting out in the last 5k and feeling zapped 1/2 way through. I gradually increased my pace and found a group of similarly paced runners as we thinned out. Success! Mile one beeped at 6:34. This was really close to the time of my first mile last time, but I felt so much fresher and stronger.
Another perk to this race- there were 2,000 runners (as opposed to 200+ in the last one) so there were a lot more people (and spectators) to distract me and keep it interesting. I focused on two or three women ahead of me, and tried to catch them one by one. That solid muscle girl was no where to be seen. Having people in sight really helped me push myself to hold the pace. Mile two was a few seconds slower, but still where I wanted it, 6:42.
As we started the last mile, I found myself using spinning cues and positive coaching messages (“keep your upper body relaxed, feel the rhythm, push hard-you’ve got this!”) They are so engrained in me right now! I knew I could hit my sub-21 goal if I held the pace. Mile three was actually my fasted mile at 6:32.
The course was nice and flat until the final tenth mile, when we went up and over a bridge and down to the finish line. There were finally lots of people cheering and I used their energy to sprint the remaining stretch at 6:17 pace.
That’s 23 seconds faster than the race two weeks ago. I’ll take it! It made such a difference to go in with less pressure on myself. I was even thinking of ignoring my Garmin and running on feel, but I did check it at each mile and probably at least twice between miles. My cheering squad:
I heard L and daddy at the finish, and was informed I was the second overall woman (behind Muscle-girl who ran a 6:05 pace!), and first in my age group. So we hung around for the awards (a medal) and then they headed home on the bike and I finished my (not very) long run day with another 5 miles, for a total of 10. I still felt strong and finished the last 3 miles at 7:46, 7:42 and 7:32.
Thanks to those of you who encouraged me to keep trying! This was only my 3rd 5k (ever), so I definitely feel like I’m learning a lot from each one, and I’m starting to understand the joy of racing this distance!