Going into Saturday’s race I was confident I would break 20 minutes, in my mind it was a matter of by how much. I know the course of the Peeper 5K, it is one I have run several times before. In fact, it was the first race I ever ran back in 2003 when I first started running. It’s a seemingly flat course if you drive it, but when you run it there are a few little rises, that when you’re trying to run your fastest time ever can really seem challenging.
On Saturday morning I stepped out of bed and immediately knew my legs weren’t fresh. I was hoping they would feel light and fresh the way they did the morning of the Red’s Five miler, but that was not the case. I had an easy week mileage-wise, only 25 miles prior to race day with two days off. But for some reason when I set out to run my warm up I just didn’t feel the way I like to feel before a race: fresh and ready.
This is where I tried to really reign in my thoughts. I acknowledge that my legs didn’t feel fresh, but made the decision to focus on the fact that I am prepared and strong. My thoughts went something like this:
My legs aren’t fresh. Seriously. I took two days off!
OK. Sarah. Let that go. Ok. I acknowledge that I feel like my legs aren’t fresh. But I choose to focus on the fact that I am strong.
I am strong. I am fast. I am confident.
I’m the strongest I’ve ever been. This race is mine to win.
Lots of self-talk happens pre-race, during the race and then post race. I think sometimes it may actually be out loud…I must look a little crazy.
So anyway, the race started. The gun goes off and all the kids sprint out as fast as they can for the first 100 yards. I always get a kick out of those kids and their enthusiasm. It was pretty clear I was the only woman up front. I didn’t really like that. I like to come from behind, not necessarily take the lead. But I decided I was going to run my own race and if that meant leading from the start line then so be it. There were no mile markers which kind of threw me a bit. There have been in the past. I know the route so I kind of have an idea where the mile mark is and I’m pretty sure I ran the first mile in 6: 30 since I heard a Garmin bleep right around when I thought we hit the mile mark. That first mile felt sluggish in my legs but by the half way point my legs were feeling better.
The course is an out and back with a turn around a cone 1.5 miles out from the start. I like this. I like being able to gauge how far I have left and who else is behind me. I took the turn and didn’t see another woman for a little while. I wanted to hold on to my lead, but at the same time run my race. If that meant they caught me then so be it, but I was going to do my best not to let them. There were some rollers in the second mile and the toughest hill came with 3/4 of a mile left to go. The great thing about the out and back is that there were a ton of our friends who also ran the race and as I passed by cheered for me. So fun!
I didn’t glance at my watch again until I thought I had about half a mile left. I saw 16:xx and new that if I ran a six minute mile for the last 800m I could break 20. I tried to keep my pace strong and steady and really push when we turned into the corner and glanced at my watch 19:03. I did my best to push into the finish. I felt strong, but spent. I had run my warm up from around the start line to that turn in 50 seconds so I knew I could run it faster than that. As I approached the finish I saw the clock clicking towards 20 minutes. And then I crossed in 19:46! I was the first female and 11th overall. You never know who is going to show up on race day. The women’s course record is 17:24, I’m glad that I was able to run my fastest and win. I’m $150 richer for it! Haha:)
Breaking 20 in the 5K was one of my big running goals for 2014 and it feels really good to reach that, especially with 15 seconds to spare.
Quite possibly the coolest thing about this race is that this was the first race I ever ran. Back in 2002-2003 when I first started running and set out to run a marathon as my first race a friend suggested I at least run a 5K and 10K first. Well, this was the 5K that I ran. And I finished in 22:26. It was pretty sweet to come back and run 19:46…and win.
Have you ever gone back to race your ran a long time ago and done far better? Did you race this weekend? How did it go?
I love connecting with readers! You can contact me here:
Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com
Daily Mile: dailymile.com/people/scanney