I finally did it! I broke that elusive 20-minute 5K barrier and joined the “Sub-20 Club” this morning.
I had a hunch I was going to run well today. There were a few great area races to choose from this weekend. Some offered nice cash prizes, but I picked this race because it’s my favorite 5K course (Knight Park), one I’ve run numerous times over the years. I ran my first 5K in Knight Park almost 7 years ago, almost ten minutes slower (29:18) than I ran the exact same course today. It’s an extremely sentimental place for me and I’m always reminded of how far I’ve come and how far I want to go whenever I visit.
I slept well again last night. I think this might have something to do with the new iOS’s sleep-friendly, evening light setting. It was perfect race weather this morning, too (low 60s, mild humidity, light rain), so I was pretty pumped to jump out of bed.
The Knight Park course consists of two road loops around the park and today it was technically an open course (only one lane of traffic was closed off to drivers). This proved to be a bit of an issue when a car almost plowed into two runners, moments after the start of the race. It was some of the most irresponsible driving I’ve ever seen, but everyone survived.
I did not make the mistake of taking the race out too fast, like I did last week. I ran my first split in 6:24, which was perfect. During the second mile, I challenged myself to run a sub-6:40, which is faster than I’d ever run my second split. I hit my second split in 6:36. At this point, I realized I’d set a 2-mile PR and that satisfaction gave me a lot of steam.
I’d been running close behind the lead three males, who yo-yoed a bit in their placing during the first two miles. I like when I’m close enough to the leaders to see how the guys’ race unfolds. It’s fun to be in a race and watch a race (two of my favorite activities) at the same time.
With a mile left, one of the younger pre-teenaged kids started to slow down. He didn’t flinch when the other guys passed him, but when I caught up to him, he freaked out and sped up. This continued for the last half mile. He would slow down, I would speed up, he would speed up as soon as I caught him, and so on. The male ego is very delicate.
In the end, I was really grateful this kid was in the race. The competition pulled me through a 6:30 3rd split, which is record-breaking fast for me. We ended up crossing the finish line within a second of each other (he won). I was very happy for him, because he wasn’t beaten by a 30-year-old lady. And I was very happy for me, because I had a shiny new 42-second 5K PR of 19:50.
I finished 4th overall and 1st woman overall. I received this giant blue trophy. I have 20 or so trophies, but I think this is my first blue one, and that fact made me happier than it probably should have.
I think I was able to race well today because I didn’t take the race out too fast. As a result, I didn’t spend the third mile retching. My splits were extremely even. It was a pretty textbook race effort, which I hadn’t been able to manage before. It only took a couple hundred 5K races to figure things out. I’m a slow learner.
But I do (eventually) learn. And I’m stoked to carry this momentum into spring and summer racing.
I set two running goals for 2016:
1) Break a 20-minute 5K.
2) Break a 70-minute 10-miler.
I have the Broad Street Run coming up next weekend, and I think I’m in good enough shape to throw down a sub-70 time, if I take the race out at a reasonable effort. I’m still figuring out my pacing strategy, but I will probably try to split the race as evenly as possible, since that approach is paying huge dividends for me in the 5K.
Questions for the Internets:
What are your 2016 race goals?
Are you chasing a certain time in the 5K (or any other distance)?
Did you race this weekend? How did it go?