After my really tough 18-miler yesterday (8 of the miles at goal marathon pace and 6 of the miles faster than goal marathon pace) I was feeling tired, but good overall.
When someone mentioned that there was a 5k today I was doubtful that I would do well and wasn't sure I wanted to do it, but then I knew racing on tired legs has training benefits, that a 5k would be a decent fitness gauge, etc. So I decided "Woo hoo! Let's do it!"
I didn't have a lot of time to stress and there wasn't much to do to prepare. I had done my usual recovery routine after my long run yesterday (Fluid Recovery, stretch, roll, ice bath, compression tights, healthy breakfast, eating well, and drinking lots of water) so I knew that all I could do was sleep, get up, and run the best I could.
After a decent sleep I did my usual core work out and then ran to the start of the race (just under five miles) for a warm up. My legs felt tired, but I could feel them loosening up over the five miles. Josh had gone on a long, very hilly, trail run the night before so he was not racing, and Shane was sleeping at a friend's house so he wasn't racing, but Ryan (14) had signed up to race as well. Josh and Ryan drove in to the start and arrived just as I did. I put on a jacket to stay warm and we got our numbers and had fun chatting with friends.
This race, the Swift Creek 5k, starts up a canyon. It has lots of downhill, although there is a decent climb in the middle of the second mile and a smaller hill towards the turn to the finish line. They shuttle you up to the start, and the problem was that once we got up there, it was freezing! (Although we saw a moose which was super cool!) I shivered and shivered and shivered. I jogged around and did a couple of strides in hopes of warming up, but my teeth were chattering even as I was jogging. I knew I would be fine once we started racing, but I felt really "tight" since I was so cold and I was a little worried that between that and having tired legs from the day before that I may not be able to run 3.1 fast miles.
Despite the shivers and a little doubt, I was smiling and calm overall. I didn't really have a plan except to run as fast as I could, and I decided right before we started that I would start my Garmin but not look at it until I crossed the finish.
We took off and about 12 people passed me in the first few hundred feet. I could feel that I had taken off FAST, and my goal was to feel for a pace that felt fast, but also felt like one that I could maintain for the whole race without bonking. After about half a mile I realized that I was in for three miles of hurt to get the result that I wanted and wondered if I had it in me today. I told myself I could do it and would do it, and I actually started to feel better as I got into a groove and kept pushing on.
Within half a mile I started passing some people back and I fell in with a young guy who made it very clear he did not want to be passed by a girl. He would try to block me and was being a big pain. I could have sprinted around him, but didn't want to waste the energy and decided to just bide my time. The road was dirt and there were a lot of rocks, bumps, and ruts, so I really had to watch my step. I was also being conscious to run the tangents.
My Garmin beeped for one mile and we were nowhere near the one mile marker on the course. Josh always says how great my "internal Garmin" is, as I have a really good judge of distance run without any aids, and I knew that when we finally had gotten to the first mile marker on the course that the first mile had been long.
In the second mile of the course there is a decent uphill climb. It sucks! I pulled back my pace a little bit (by feel) and the guy I had been running shoulder to shoulder with blew past me up the hill. I was glad just to have some space and not have him right by me. I got to the top of the hill and surged and then took advantage of the downhill, and quickly passed the guy right back, and never saw him again.
Again my Garmin beeped for two miles a considerable distance before we hit the two-mile marker (and the same thing happened with the three mile marker).
The last mile of the course is out of the canyon, on the road, and mostly flat, with a small uphill with about a quarter mile to go. I picked off a few more people in this last mile. At this point every muscle in my body was screaming to stop or at least slow down, but I willed myself forward and did not let myself ease off the effort. I felt my pace slow on the uphill, but then turned the corner and saw the long (longer than hoped for!) straight away to the finish line. I gave it everything I had left - sprinted for all I was worth. I was running in to the sun so I couldn't see Josh, but I could hear him whistling and I loved knowing he was getting to see me cross a finish line.
I finished as the first female and third overall, with an official time of 20:18. Both of the men who had finished ahead of me told me right away that their Garmin's had read 3.22 miles, and sure enough, mine read exactly 3.22 as well.
My splits were 6:07, 6:31, 6:17, (and 6:24 average pace for the last .22 miles), with an average pace for the race of 6:19 a mile.
I was happy for the win, but I was most excited about how I ran this. Being able to run the splits I did the day after such a fast/tough 18-miler and at the end of a tough training week overall was a big confidence booster. Also, being able to push myself mentally and run strong was a big confidence booster as well. This was a very hard effort and on this day, I truly feel that I ran this race as hard and as fast as I possibly could have. I finished knowing I had not held back and had given it all I had that day. That feels really good!
Lots of my friends ran very well today and Ryan set a PR of 23:xx. I got a set of hot and cold water bottles, an ITUNES gift card, and a medal for the win, and we all got shirts.
We didn't get any pics, but here is a short video clip of me crossing the finish line.
I also used this for Adam's Sweat Your Thorns Off Virtual 5k. :)