On Sunday I participated in a 5K...partly because I really need to work on speed and 5K's are an awesome way to push yourself to get better speed, and partly because it was a race organized by our neighbors, the Smiths, to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation in memory of their son Kaden who passed away at age 9 from a fatal seizure last year.
As you know I've developed a lot of confidence in maintaining a faster pace lately. My runs have been pretty strong overall and I've gotten more comfortable pushing myself. I passed up the opportunity to run in really cool temps this past week in favor of the warm gym just so I didn't mess myself up during the race, knowing the temps would be warm that day. I've done a couple speed workouts that turned out well and with it being "only" a 5K I figured I could do anything for 25 minutes so matter how bad it hurt. Famous last words....
My goal ever since I signed up was to get a medal. The race info indicated that the top 3 in each age group would get a medal, and I didn't even think to look at the age group details, figuring mine would be either 30-39 or 35-39. I looked a couple days prior to the race....my age group was 19-39. Me, age 37, competing with 20-somethings? This could be ugly.
The beginning of the race started off well, if you ignored the wind and humidity of course (but I expected this!). I felt good and comfortable at my pace. I actually never looked at my watch to see how fast I was running, not once during this first mile. That would be my FIRST mistake. I saw my friend Erica in front of me the entire first mile and I thought we may have been the top 2 females in the race (found out later Erica was #2 as there was an even faster girl in front of her). As we moved into mile 2 we were directly into the wind, which was probably about 20 mph. Not gonna lie - I shouldn't have passed up the water at that first water stop...talk about dry mouth during a run. Wow, the wind can totally suck. That would probably be my SECOND mistake.
My pain threshold lasted probably about 13 minutes. I really couldn't breathe. My legs were good, my lungs were not. I REALLY couldn't breathe. I didn't know how I'd hold up for another 11 or 12 minutes. Mistake number THREE was walking instead of just slowing down. DUMB MOVE. I know better than to walk - once you give in to that there's really no going back. It's easy to keep giving in. I should have just slowed to a 9 minute pace or so for about a quarter mile and got my breathing under control. I saw that I was just over 16 minutes through 2 miles...a very good pace and even with walking I was going to produce a respectable time and possibly get a medal. However, it was about this time that a couple of ladies who looked no older than me passed me, so unless they just looked REALLY good for their age I was out of contention.
I slogged through that last mile and finished the slightly short course in 25:14. I'm kind of bummed that the course was a bit short as I was about to start my final push to the finish when we turned the last corner and the finish was RIGHT THERE. I don't know why I didn't realize we were that close already. So I never got the opportunity to put on my final fast sprint, which I'm pretty good at usually. Not that it would have made a big difference overall. I believe my actual pace was about 8:35...not what I was looking for at all.
I talked to another lady who finished right in front of me and she mentioned that as we were running alongside each other she could hear me wheezing and definitely having trouble with my breathing overall. She asked if I had asthma. I do occasionally wheeze when around cats but running-induced asthma? Or possibly induced by the high humidity or other allergens kicked around by the wind? It was definitely likely and could have contributed to my crash and burn. It's something I'm going to have to look into with my family's allergy and asthma doctor.
Overall, I finished 5th in my age group and was the 7th overall woman. Had I been 40 or older, I would have gotten that darn medal, but my age group was really tough obviously. A lot of talented ladies were out there running a great race. It was exciting to see three of my neighbors take medals, including Erica and her husband John. Remember them from the relay? Yeah, they rock. I almost beat John...ALMOST. Erica? Not gonna happen. Did I mention she rode 100 miles on her bike into headwinds the day before this race?
Remember how I mentioned I never looked at my watch during that first mile? Yeah, I should have...it was 7:45. About 20-30 seconds too fast. That should have been the pace on my LAST mile. My last mile wasn't nearly as bad as I thought, but it was still a slightly disappointing 9:13. On any training run that wouldn't bum me out, but not during a 5K.
As always, I take lessons from every race. I have another 5K in July. I will not go out too fast. I will continue my speed workouts. I will not go out too fast. I will slow down if necessary and take a breather. I will not go out too fast. I will medal (well, that REALLY depends on the competition...you just never know).