So I have been doing a lot of thinking about being pretty consistently top 10% of females every race I do. Doesn't seem to matter the distance or even event, tris, ultras, marathons, 5ks you can pretty much bet on me being top 10% exactly in women. I've decided that enough is enough I want to break into the top 10%, enough of being exactly 10!
So with that in mind and a good fartlek workout on Wednesday I signed up for the Reindeer Run 5k in Lakewood this morning. I had no idea what pace I ran on Wednesday but I figured it was decent and if the weather played along I'd give it one more go to achieve sub 20.
Salty picked me up this morning and I was nervous but I felt good. My left hamstring is a bit sore and my quad was a bit out of sorts but considering I ran a 50 mile race two weeks ago I felt pretty good. Got in a good 30 minute warm up with Daisy and Salty and threw in some strides to remind my legs what fast feels like.
It was cold this morning but the sun was shining and there was hardly any wind. I'd been told this was a fast out and back course, no hairpin turns. If I was going to break 20 this was the day to do it. Lined up with Daisy and JP. I wanted to cling to JP as long as possible as she has been consistently running 19:50s this year. Unfortunately she told me beforehand her goal was to cling to Salty who was going for something under 19. Yikes. So I decided I'd just go out and see what happened.
The bell went off and we made our way around a slight curve before the crowd thinned down. JP didn't seem to be too close to Salty so I decided to just stick with her, she is a smart racer and if I could keep on her for 2 miles I'd have a shot at sub 20. I felt pretty good. Breathing was good, none of the residual exhaustion from JFK which I had Wednesday in the later Fartleks. I had Daisy right with me but there was no talking this morning. In a 5k there isn't much room for error.
The first mile seemed to take forever but I just kept my eyes on JP and tried to literally follow her footsteps, keeping my foot strikes in line with hers. No looking at the watch except at the mile markers today. I tried to tune out time and just run strong. First mile 6:14. Sweet. I was happy and wasn't worried that it was about 12 seconds faster than the overall pace I wanted. I knew if I just held onto JP my pace wouldn't falter.
The second mile brings your around the only turn and the sun made it a bit hard to see. The roads were a bit messy here but we navigated it fine. JP and I went back and forth with a gal I knew from Tri swimming here. I just stuck to JP like glue knowing I needed to keep with her through 2 to have a shot at sub 20. Mile 2 6:23.
I did the math and knew that meant I could run a 6:40 my last mile and still go sub 20. That made me extremely happy. The pace still felt good. I had to step it up a notch to hold onto JP. I let her pull a bit ahead but anytime the gap opened up I pulled myself forward to close it. We could still see Salty in the distance so I knew we were doing well. I kept telling myself that 6:40 was very doable. The pace started to feel difficult but I knew I could hold on for one mile. I didn't feel beat and knew I just had to keep my head together. I figured I had slowed down a little bit because the pace felt harder. I assumed the lactic acid was starting to take it's toll.
I was shocked when we came to a man shouting out the 3 mile split and my mile was 6:07. Holy crap I thought. Just hold on and you've done it. It seemed like a long .1 miles and I knew since there was no actual 3 mile marker that I needed to keep pushing in case mile 3 was actually farther ahead. I didn't have much of a kick but I held my pace and tried my best to push a bit harder. I looked up at the clock and saw 19 and what I thought was a 5 and pushed it over the line hoping I had made it. I looked down at my watch 19:28. Holy crap! Ecstatic I gave out a holler.
10 years later and I finally got that 20:03 monkey off my back. It feels damn good. I have no idea if I was in the top 10% but I am so pleased with the day. Official time was 19:23. 5th overall, 1st in age (by 2 seconds!). I had no idea my swim pal was so close. All my gals pr'ed or had exceptional days including age group or overall awards for Salty, JP, Daisy, and JT! It feels so good to go out on a bang like this for the year. PRing in distances from 5K to 50 Miles. Now I just need to take down that half and full marathon next year!
I am so glad Salty convinced me to go out to this race. Thanks girl!