This morning’s 5K race was so. much. fun.
I went into today’s 5K with two goals:
1. Race a PR
2. Break 21 minutes
I only accomplished my first goal but I am totally okay with that.
There were a number of factors working against me today:
1. The roads were slushy and riddled with potholes after all the snow we received.
2. I only got two hours of sleep the night before.
3. It was freezing cold.
4. It had been 6 weeks since my last race. (Racing is basically my main source of speed work, so if it’s been more than a month between races, I can expect to run a relatively much slower time.)
Regardless, I wasn’t racing for any kind of prize today. For perspective: The first male finisher completed the course in 14:30 and the first female finisher completed the course in 16:52. Obviously this is one of the most competitive 5K road races in the state of New Jersey. The event attracts top high school/collegiate athletes and even a few Olympians with almost a thousand runners in total. First and foremost, I went into this race with the expectation of getting a great workout plus a rare, exciting opportunity to race with some of the fastest runners in the state. I’d run this race three times before and I never felt more prepared than I did today.
I’ve decided that I need to stop racing with my iPhone. I think for me, personally, it is too clunky, cumbersome, and unnecessary for a 5K race. I realized that, if I truly want to improve as a runner, I need to stop relying on music to propel me through a race. I want to train myself to get my head in the game. So today I just ran with my humble Garmin. The starting line was actually not too freezing, since I was sandwiched in with almost 1,000 other excited runners.
I was completely prepared when the siren went off. I really missed my favorite 5K playlist for about the first 30 seconds of the race. And then I got over it.
My goal pace for this race was 6:45. I hit my first mile in 6:38 which was a perfect split. I was feeling pretty good and running with a really nice pack (a few men in their 30s/40s and several female high school runners). I lost a disappointing amount of speed in my second mile, which turned out to be a 7:00 even split. Once I made it over the course’s lone hill, I really threw myself into my third mile. And then I threw up (four times).
I hate when I get sick, but it’s completely unavoidable when it happens. The best I can do is slow down and just puke while trying my best not to get any on myself or (God forbid) any other runners. I lost about 20 seconds in the final stretch of the race when my pace slowed to around 7:30, but I still finished relatively strong with a third mile split of 6:49 and a final time of 21:12, which is a thirteen second 5K PR.
I obviously have a lot of room for improvement here when it comes to holding it together throughout the middle of a race. If I had hit that 2 mile split as planned, I would have easily broken 21 minutes. Next time I race, I’m really going to hone in on that second mile.
Overall, I finished 179th out of 893 total runners. I was 32nd out of 467 female runners and 8th out of 42 runners in my age group. There was a lot of snow stuck to the tree branches in town; it was melting and splattering runners left and right, which made for a rather lovely distraction. The community energy at this race is first rate. I’m so lucky I got to experience this kind of event with such a huge, dedicated group of runners. Of course, I also appreciate the sweet finisher’s medal, which doubles as a bottle opener.
Questions for the Internets:
Do you race with or without music?
What’s your 5K race strategy? (positive or negative splits?)
What’s the most unique race medal/award you’ve ever received?