I was totally excited about racing a 5k after the track workout last week, but when my tempo was rough I started to worry. Never fear! Running Within is here! I picked up my trusty mental training book and heeded its advice to visualize, visualize, visualize. Before I went to bed the night before, I visualized my entire morning before the race: waking up @ 6:30; hearing the coffee percolating; smelling the toast in the toaster; the feel of the waistband on my shorts; brushing my teeth; getting the race an hour early to sign up and then going to my car before doing an early longer faster warm-up; lining up and feeling excited and happy.
The morning went almost exactly as I visualized the night before. I arrived at the race early and signed up. I then went to my car, dropped off my number and headed out for a run of the course around 7:20 pace. While running the course I visualized racing on it. I imagined myself relaxed and happy and enjoying the small hills and the headwinds and the freeway fumes. I imagined the sun in my eyes felt delicious and was like a beacon calling me to the finish. When I arrived near the finish at the minor league ball park I visualized feeling excited in the knowledge I was running a pr. I imagined spectators speckled about the parking lot cheering for me as the first woman. I imagined kicking it in as I entered the stadium and I counted down the clock and visualized finishing in 18:12. Not sure why that number, but it sounded good to me!
I was done with my 3 miles and still had 20 minutes. I stopped at the rest room and had a drink of water. I walked to my car and calmly pinned my number to my bra and laced up my flats. I fixed the display in my Garmin and turned off autolap and then I walked casually over to the starting area with 10 minutes to go. I jogged about .5 miles and then did 4 x strides. I saw a friend and congratulated him on his baby due in a month. I enjoyed watching the young guys nervously warm-up, and the group of children in their red t-shirts stoked to run their first 5k and hobby joggers not sure where to line-up. I enjoyed the early morning sun illuminating the scene and the excitement in the air!
When I lined up I felt a sense of community with all of them. I felt so happy that all these people gathered together in this sparse suburban landscape to push themselves and better themselves. I felt so lucky to be so fit and strong and able to be there too.
Ready! Set! GO!
And we were off. It was a bit shocking to the system to run 5k pace at first. I felt a little queasy and weird, but I knew this was normal. Some guys around me were talking about me as if I couldn't hear, but honestly I don't even remember what they said. I was happy and excited. I was a little tentative to go nutso though. I have never run under 6:00 pace in a race (at least not intentionally!) so this was new territory. When I was at around .3 miles the garmin settled into about a 5:52-5:53 pace and I rolled with it. It felt right. I got to the mile marker in 5:50 and hit lap. My plan was to settle in and keep up the effort for mile 2. I knew there was a hair-pin turnaround so I knew that would cost me a few seconds, but otherwise I wanted to keep the pace as close to mile 1 as possible. I came to the mile marker in 5:40. My Garmin was displaying average pace and showed 6:03 (we ran under a bridge twice and after the turn around the pace really tanked, so I think that didn't help) at this point for the whole 2 miles which I knew wasn't right, so I switched screens so it would just show time and not bug me out. Anyway, even with the garmin not telling me I knew that 5:40 was short. I guessed 15 seconds and I think that's about right. Although I used that info to motivate me to go for it convincing myself I might have a shot at sub-18!
I was totally alone after the first .5 - 1 mile. I had to push myself and I think I did. I ran with the sun in my eyes and used it as the beacon. I glided up the small hill before the intersection and made that sharp turn back to the stadium and happily listened to a couple of spectators cheering for me. I started to kick after the second to last hard-turn. I had a lot left. I zoomed up to the stadium entrance and made that last jack-knife turn and ran down to the warning track, my toes digging into the dirt. I was sprinting and saw the clock tick down 18:11; 18:12; 18:13! PHEW!!! 18:13!!!! A 36 second pr!
I was pumped! And in my excitement I totally forgot to hit stop or even lap on my garmin so I don't have the data. Oh well! I talked to some dudes after the finish and tried to find someone to run 4 @ 7:20 pace to cool down, but no dice. (They all looked at me like I was nuts!)
I headed out and did my 4 miles which wasn't too terrible (although I was definitely tired when I was done). I headed back in and stretched and waited for the awards. I collected my first place trophy and headed home elated with the mental victory and the p.r.!
Later, I checked the results and the race has me @ 18:15. It's hand scored and with no one finishing close to me it looks like they rounded up. Oh well. I'll take it!