Like most road racers I laced up the shoes this morning to get in a July 4th 5k. Coach was not on board with doing another key race so there was no taper, we were just training through it. Despite that I wanted to shave at least one second off Flag Day and get a sub 18 5k to my name before we start ramping up the mileage for the marathon this fall. I won't be doing another 5k until at least November so I really hoped I'd be able to step it up a notch and come in under 18.
Holy crap was I nervous this morning. Despite knowing this was just a 5k and that even if I did poorly it didn't matter I was keyed up. I felt like I was going to vomit the whole ride there despite my husband trying his best to distract me. Once outside the car in the fresh air I felt a bit better. But still a bit nervous as I went through my pre race warm up rituals. Finally at the line I started to calm down a bit.
I decided to go sans watch today. I had a really bad race here last year(and a less than stellar tempo this week) and I am sure half of it was running so hard the first mile and having an awful split despite of it. My goal today was to run aggressively and keep my head in the race the whole way. I had hoped at least one consistent mid 17 5k gal would be there but unfortunately she was out of town. Thankfully though SG who lives locally and runs the race every year is a solid low to mid 17 runner here and I made it my goal to stick to him like glue until I couldn't hold on anymore. He warned me before the race he might not run that quickly today so I took that into account as we rolled out the first mile. The pace felt too easy and I pushed a bit ahead of him as he scolded my to stay calm, that the guys just ahead of us were going to go out in low 5s and we would pass many of them in the 3rd mile. I cooled off a little bit but aware as a female runner jumped ahead I didn't pull off the gas enough to let her gap me by much.
Before the mile marker we passed her and as the timer shouted out 5:37 SG informed me the actual mile was a bit further on and we were more like 5:45. Fine by me although a little more cushion would have been a mental boost 5:45 would get me what I needed. I wanted to hit the 2 mile at 11:24 to know I had it "in the bag" so I worked the next mile and pulled a bit ahead of SG as we passed a group of four younger guys who went out too fast. Hit the 2 mile split at about 11:32 and knew I needed to get to work. I took water at the stop and dumped it over my head as I pushed. It felt like I was fading a bit but I just tried to hammer and relax my upper body as coach instructed from the sidelines.
SG passed me and the people who had come out to cheer were all cheering for him as he is a local and known well. I did my best to stay close to him but he is a high mileage guy and just plain fast and I couldn't quite hold onto him. One more young guy from the Solon area reeled me back in during the last half mile. I started to get a stitch below my ribs and just tried to will and breathe it away, no time for pain right now, I knew it was going to be close. Without the watch I had no real concept of how much further it was, the last stretch all looks the same. As I cruised over the last small hill I realized this was it and started to hammer as hard as I could. I could see the clock at 17:25 ish and mentally thought it has to be less than 100 meters to the finish I know I can run 100 meters in 19 seconds just push push push! Passed the clock at 17:50 and the mats were just a few steps beyond so I am assuming around 17:52 will be the official time *update: official time says 17:46.9 but I am pretty sure they switched me with the kid who beat me and I should be 17:50.1* Hopefully I raced through over those 3 mats, I had assumed the clock was the finish, but post race noticed the mats were actually a few steps beyond. I really have no idea what happened after that clock I was just glad to get that sub 18 and be the first female across the line!
I made the mistake of sitting down to try and get my chip off and my right hip flexor locked up on me, can we say painful? I think maybe just too much caffeine (coffee and a gel) mixed with not the right balance of electrolytes and water because my left bicep also cramped up. Walking around a bit seemed to loosen it up so hopefully just a fluke. Super stoked to meet another goal, hopefully I am solidly over the bad race slump for awhile. The main goal is obviously Columbus so let's just hope I haven't used up all my good race mojo on these short races :)
Hope everyone has a great 4th!