Or: my fastest 5K of the year.
[Insert yaysies here]
The weather: perfect, at 50 degrees and sunny. The course: hilly, as always…but not as punishing as it could have been, I suppose.
Coming off of the start line, we climbed a two-block incline and then began a gradual descent into one of the pretty historic neighborhoods north of downtown. I’d positioned myself three people deep at the start and had a lot of company during that first quarter mile. Even though I’d taken a good three-mile warm-up, I felt like I was running in slow motion among the throngs of sprinting kiddos. Finally the crowd thinned out and I took in the scene.
I knew I wasn’t going to be a contender for an overall place at this race, but it was still nice to see that there only appeared to be a half-dozen women ahead of me.
Downhill all the way to the first mile marker: 6:28.
Another little two-block incline. I was finally starting to feel like my legs were warmed up. I passed one of the girls in front of me as we crested the little hill and began a long, steep descent that would drop us down and around the far curve of the U-shaped course.
At the bottom of that hill was a “YOU’RE HALFWAY THERE!” sign. My watch read 9:58. Sub-20 pace! Um…if the rest of the course were downhill.
Unfortunately, we had to climb back up the other side of the hellish thing that we just descended. I tried to focus on passing people instead of fretting about how much ground I was losing on that 20-minute mark. I passed a couple of guys as we continued to wind our way up out of the neighborhood.
Second mile marker: 13:22. (6:54 split…not as bad as it sounds, considering the terrain.)
I knew the big hills were out of the way, and the last mile, while net uphill, would be gentler rollercoasters. I tried to pick up my pace. I knew breaking 20 was unrealistic, but I sure as hell could get under 21.
A chick in a pink matchy-matchy running skirt outfit passed me. Humiliating. I tried to hang with her, but damn, she was moving. Seething about this must have distracted me for most of the last mile because before I knew it, I was coming up on another helpful sign: “1/4 MILE TO GO!”
My watch read 19:30.
Translation: You have ninety effing seconds to get your ass across that finish line.
Thankfully, it only took me eighty-two.
Finish time: 20:52 (7:30 for the last 1.1, 6:45 pace)
Good enough for seventh woman overall and, as it turns out, an age group win.
I feel pretty positive about this. Last spring, I ran 21:04 on a very similar course. It’s only 12 seconds, but improvement is improvement, right?
After the race, I literally kept on running, settling for an inadequate half-mile cool down, as that was the distance back to my apartment. I kicked off my flats and ran straight in to the shower as I had about six minutes to get ready for work.
Scurrying around all afternoon must have been a fair replacement for a proper warm down, though, because my legs actually feel pretty good today.
That, or the enormous plate of pulled pork nachos I ate for dinner last night was more than adequate recovery fuel. (Carbs + protein!)
I guess we’ll see when I attempt my long(ish) run later this afternoon….