A few Fridays ago I did a night 5km for fun with Salty. It was a money race so we figured best case we go out get in a hard run and come home with some money. Worst case we have fun with the track start and finishing under the lights with a bunch of HS XC kids. I figured I would go out conservative and just stay behind whoever was in first and then see how I felt towards the end and if I had a kick. But we showed up and the weather was actually cool from the storms that had just rolled through and that little spark ignited with the maybe you could actually run fast tonight thought at the back of my mind. Salty had similar thoughts, but I pretty much gave up on that during the extremely sluggish warm up that revealed though it was cooler it was still muggy as heck.
But Salty found a few pennies and insisted this was a good sign, and we returned from the warm up to a rainbow before changing into our racing flats and heading to the track.
Got in the strides and then lined up on the track with a ton of young HS runners. I had no clue what the course would be like. We started on the track and it looked to me like we would run 100 meters before making a sharp right out of the track onto the road. Turns out we actually ran a lap first and placing ourselves on the left side of the track worked out well. Went out smooth and was content to settle in with the boys around me until about 100 meters when I saw a local gal ahead of me and my competitive nature got the best of me and I decided to push to take the lead early and hopefully hold it.
Despite upping the pace I was having fun. They were playing Beyonce's Single Ladies and as we exited the track I danced a little after seeing a boy ahead jamming. I settled in with a few guys. I heard a spectator ask where all the women were as I passed. I shouted "right here" and joked with the guy next to me that I realized I had short hair but I thought the sports bra gave me away. Despite joking around a bit and being careful over the few speed bumps in the first mile we reached the mile split in 5:26. Whoa :) Not sure if they were in the right place, but I felt good so I just rolled with it.
I did my best to pull up with a few guys and pass who I could over the next mile. Early in the second mile I got boxed in by two young guys and after getting kicked a few times I finally asked for some space and they both split wide and I pulled ahead of them. Feeling bad for my "bossiness" I encouraged them to stick with me, but they fell off.
The second mile was on streets and a bike path of sorts, not perfectly flat but no real hills. I took water at the aid station and passed the second mile in 5:55. I knew based on the 2 mile split that sub 18 was possible so I focused on my form and relaxing. But clearly I had slowed way down. I did my best the next mile to pick up the effort as I knew if I ran another slow split both Salty and KG were capable of catching me.
The next mile you head into the woods on a bike path and by then it was dark. A few small rollers in here and I worked on catching some boys but was careful not to slip as it was a bit damp on the path. Somewhere in here was a turn and I risked one glance back and noted I had a pretty good gap on the ladies and felt comfortable I had first in the bag as long as I didn't let up.
As we headed back towards the track we had to cross one road and unfortunately the volunteers controlling traffic did not have much power over the antsy drivers and they shouted at me and the guy next to me to "watch out for the car", so we swerved wide and I joked with the guy next to me asking if it would be rude if I had replied "Isn't that your job?". I let the guy next to me pull ahead as we headed onto the track. I didn't notice the clock on the score board until I had a little over 100 meters to go. Poor math skills told me I might be able to eek out a PR and I hammered in, but it was a bit too far and I settled for a 17:53 win. The guy I was with at the car crossing ran 17:43. I should have gone with him! I was working hard, but I definitely did not lay everything I had out there. Granted the goal was to have fun and I did, but that little spark was saying, told you so!
Looking at the results I must have been a nice target for the few guys behind me, I don't know how I didn't notice the 3 or so guys that must have been breathing down my neck at the line.
Like Johnnycake I basically just ran my race at the effort that felt appropriate. It worked out well, but next race I need to get out of safe territory and really push some boundaries. This would have been a perfect opportunity to do that and I just didn't see that until after it was over. So I am getting amped up to really lay it on the line next race which is Perfect 10 miler. I think it will be a good race to really go for it and since Johnnycake and Friday Night Lights were solid I don't need the race to be a confirmation of fitness, I can risk a blow up. I know where I am at based on those races and my workouts. I am going to take a chance at Perfect 10 and see if I can't find that extra gear and really step it up. So screw the pace charts and predictors, Perfect 10 it is time to see what these legs are made of. Goal is to run sub 6 for as long as I can and try to break 60 or leave it all on the line trying to.