Call me an addict, but the minute I booked my ticket to Washington to study for the bar in a nice quiet, rural place, I also looked up local races. Nothing crazy like a half marathon, but I figured the shot of endorphins a nice 5K or 10K would give me would be worth the break from studying.
When I saw the Northwest Raspberry Festival 5K Fun Run and Walk, I added it to my race calendar and got psyched for a fun race. Honestly I didn't think I had it in me to PR by myself. When I ran my first 5K in December, I had the fabulous Abby pacing me, and there were so many times during that race I thought I was going to pass out or give up. Could I possibly run even faster than that without someone keeping me going? Probably not.
Still, I told Coach Jess I'd be running it, and she'd given me a race plan and everything, so I hauled my ass out of bed and got ready. I'd also put together a kickass 5K playlist that I wanted to try out, so clearly I had to run it.
I love local races so much. I hadn't registered beforehand and arrived there at 8:15, thinking I was a bit late to register since registration "closed" at 8:45. Um... this is what I arrived to see. Everyone ended up coming right at 8:45! I didn't mind the extra time, however, since I used it to run a mile warm-up and listen to my "Race Psych-Up" playlist.
A few things I've learned -- first, warming up for short races is essential. I used to think that a warm-up before a short race would waste my energy or strength, but that's not true at all. Instead, it warms up your muscles (hence the term warm-up) and gets them primed for speed. Plus, Coach Jess hasn't steered me wrong yet, so when I had a 15 minute warm-up, I set out to get it down (it ended up being about 12 minutes).
I find that the first mile or so of any run typically feels hard for me, but my body settles down after that. By doing a warm-up, you get that out of the way and your body is ready to race!
The second thing I've learned: I'm truly in love with my current fueling. I used to have a normal-sized breakfast before short races, meaning a piece of whole wheat toast, peanut butter, and a banana. It often left me feeling full while running the race, which isn't ideal for a short distance.
Now, I've switched to my normal, everyday run fueling -- half a Picky Bar for a distance under 6 miles (AKA an hour) and a full Picky Bar for anything more than that. The fueling felt perfect for a 9 AM 5K!
I finished my short loop warm-up, waved at my mom and sister who came to cheer me on, then headed to the start line. At precisely 9:00 AM (seriously, check my Garmin!), we lined up for the "ready, set, go!"
The first mile seemed effortless. I checked my watch to see where in the mile we were and was shocked to see a pace in the 7's! Since my watch can be so inaccurate in the first quarter mile, I ignored it. Jess's plan was for me to run 85% for mile 1, 90% for mile 2, 95% for 2/3 of mile 3, and 100% for the last bit. Gauging what 85% was seemed difficult when the pace felt so effortless, so I just held on and figured I'd see what happened.
A few men passed me in that first mile, and one young girl, but I didn't want to blow myself up so I didn't try to catch up. Plus, I knew there were only three or four women ahead of me at that point, so I made it my goal not to let any other women pass me.
When the first mile beeped and I saw 7:49, I was shocked and delighted -- I figured as long as I didn't completely crash in the next two miles, I could definitely PR, but I think that I let myself pull back a bit in the second mile because I was worried I'd crash. It clocked in at 8:20. I knew I could have pushed a bit harder, so as soon as I hit 2.00, I started pumping my arms faster to try to speed up.
It helped that in the third mile, I saw the girl who had initially passed me. I flashed her a big smile and thumbs up as I passed, and she shouted good job as I surged ahead. I was actually racing?? This felt awesome.
Until I ran up the short incline leading back to the finish line. It was the last quarter mile and at that point my legs were about ready to give out. Still, I saw the third woman ahead of me and pushed hard, trying to catch up. Apparently she had more in the tank than I did, since what turned out to be a 13 year-old took off when she saw me, leaving me dry heaving in the chute with a 7:54 mile 3 and 6:32 pace for the last .05 miles. I high fived the girl for being freaking amazing after I'd bent over a trash can and confirmed that I was not, in fact, going to puke before 10 AM on a Saturday morning. If I dry heaved at the finish line, I think I ran the 5K right?
(Yes, I think the course was a bit short, since my Garmin read 3.05. I generally trust the course over my Garmin, but for a casual race like this, I'm guessing that the course probably was a bit under 3.1)
Still, this race was a huge PR for me! My splits were: (1) 7:49, (2) 8:20, (3) 7:54, (.05) 6:32 for a 7:59 average pace. For context, I had trouble running a 7:30 timed mile back in February.
|Sparkly Soul headband, Oiselle Winona Tank and Diamond Roga Shorts, Saucony Kinvara 4's, and Nike sports bra (I think it's this one)|
Post-PR -- can you tell how happy I am? I hadn't heard about my place yet -- I just honestly couldn't believe that I was able to push myself so hard without anyone running with me.
I think a huge part of it was the competitive element. In a NYC race, there are thousands of people. I'm lucky to be in the top half! But when I knew I was racing for a top 10 finish? I was able to push myself so much harder. I could set my sights on one woman to "pick off" then move on to the next, rather than being surrounded by a sea of runners. That difference felt incredibly important for such a short race.
What made this PR extra sweet?
Coming in first in my age group (19-29 women) and fourth woman overall. Ecstatic is an understatement.
Seriously, local races are the best!! This was such a great confidence booster before I take some time to focus on bar studying. Jess's concentration on easy effort mileage is making me a lot stronger (more to say about this) and still keeping my legs fresh enough to run 14 miles Sunday, 4 miles Tuesday, 15 miles Wednesday, and a huge 5K PR on Saturday.
So excited for post-bar return to intense training, and for exciting things to come this fall!!
2B Drink Winner
Congratulations to Heather, the winner of the 2B drinks giveaway! Ironically, when I announced the giveaway, I also mentioned what an awesome hill repeat partner Heather had been. I guess it was good karma since the random.org pulled up Heather's name Saturday when I ran the numbers!
Clearly people should run with me then play the lottery. Congrats, Heather! Email me and I'll put you in contact with 2B Drinks :)
Tell me something awesome that happened to you recently, whether running-related or not. Did it give you confidence in another area of your life?
What are your thoughts on easy-paced mileage -- love it or hate it?