I started off 2014 by running my first 5K since 2012. I decided to run the Resolution Race in Leesburg, VA because it looked like a pretty place to run (more on that later) and wasn’t very expensive. I can’t wrap my head around paying $40 to run a 5K!
I’ve actually only run three stand alone 5Ks ever, one in 2011 and two in 2012. I tend to like longer races since I am a slower runner and it takes me a while to warm up. This year, of course, I am trying to work on my speed, so my coach thought that a winter 5K would be a good challenge for me and I agreed. Initially, we were thinking I should try to PR.
My 5K PR in a stand alone race is a 27:54, although my fastest 5K is actually from a sprint triathlon (27:42). As I said, it takes me a while to warm up and this stat seems to confirm that. I don’t know many people who have a run PR after a swim and bike. With this in mind, my coach recommended a thorough warm up routine before the race today.
She also reminded me that 5Ks are supposed to hurt:
These are meant to hurt, so if you’re running comfortably, you’re not running hard enough.
I definitely thought about these words before the race. These are meant to hurt. I also thought about this tweet I saw earlier this week about believing in myself, which has been a struggle for me in prior races (and life generally, but that isn’t the subject of this blog):
I tried to have a really positive outlook going into the race.
I went to bed early on New Year’s Eve and got plenty of sleep. I woke up feeling good and positive. I listened to some good “pump me up” music in the car. I got to the race and had no problem with checking in (I love small races for this!). I got my bib and liked the number. The pre-race entertainment was a man signing James Taylor hits and JT is my favorite artist.
Soon enough, it was time for the warm up. As I mentioned before, my coach gave me some pretty extensive advice for the warm up. What to wear, what to do, for how long. I followed it to a tee and felt awesome. Could things be going any better?!?! PR, here I come!!
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
As I mentioned previously, I picked this race, in part, because it looked pretty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t really thinking through that pretty meant hard. The race was on the grounds of an estate, which meant running on grass and gravel for a good portion of the race. Something I have basically no experience with. Race choosing fail on my part. In fact when my coach found out about this, she told me this may not be a PR course, but, of course, still to give it a go.
The race started off on a downhill across a grass field. The footing was really uneven and I definitely was thinking about my steps and worried a bit about falling. But I didn’t and soon we transitioned to running a paved road. I was thinking the coast was clear, but after only a few moments on the pavement, we started running up the driveway of the estate, which was a dirt and gravel road with several hills.
I was definitely pushing hard. I looked down at my Garmin at 6 minutes and something into the race and I was running 8:40 pace, which is great for me. Okay, I thought. I just need to hold on. First mile 8:46.69.
It was all downhill – unfortunately not literally – from there. I’m not sure if I was tired or what, but I started slowing down. And then slowing down more. And then slowing down even more. Part of this was probably being tired from starting off fast and also maybe some of the inclines, but I’m not exactly sure. The race ends running back up the grassy field hill, which I can tell you really is not an ideal way to finish a 5K.
Total time 29:26.
Suffice it to say, I was not happy. I had several disappointing race results in 2013 and I was really hoping to leave that all behind me in 2014. I have been working SO hard lately with my training and I was just so disappointed. I crossed the finish line, turned off my Garmin and then just kept walking directly to my car. I didn’t stop for a bottle of water. Nothing. Just went straight to the car without looking back and drove home.
So, definitely not the race I wanted and definitely not the race I know I am capable of.
However, after talking to my coach (she called me after getting an email from me that may or may not have used the word “disaster” as a sentence), I do think there are some positives I can take from this.
First, I think I’ve finally figured out what works for me in the warm up and I am going to use this exact pre-race plan again at future races.
Second, I had a strong first mile and I can build off of that for sure.
Third, I actually came in first in the 30-39 age group, which is a huge first for me! I don’t exactly understand it because another girl in the 30-39 age group actually came in second overall in the race, so I really came in second out of ten in the 30-39 age group, but there is a number 1 next to my name, so I’ll take what I can get!
So, thank you, Alyssa, for making me see that this was not, in fact, a disaster. Onward and upward!