Monday, June 20, 2011

Jumping In

At the track on Tuesday Coach G told me to go find a short race to jump into over the weekend. He still wanted us to get our workouts in, but have one of them include a race. I had 11 @ 7:00 on Saturday and 14 @ 7:25 on tap for Sunday. I poked around the internets and found a 5k race I ran a couple of years ago was happening on Saturday. It's not the most scenic area to get in 11 miles, but it would do!

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!


E-Speed said...

I wish I could say my 5km felt as easy as it sounds like yours did :) Great job girl! I need to start this visualization stuff, it sounds like it is really helping you!

Janet Edwards said...

Holy crap...that you are just getting so fast! Glad to see the hard work is paying off.

allanjel said...

Very nice LP!! So great to hear your doing so well.