Monday, February 10, 2014

run your heart out 5k


I have had such a bad attitude when it comes to races on the trails of Reston. I'd like to say that it's because I can run on them all the time, so it doesn't feel special or like a race. But the real reason is that they are hilly and my Nike+Running GPS (and in the past, runkeeper GPS) always says that I ran slower than I thought I was going... Turns out that I have just been losing the GPS signal on that part of the trail! So maybe I can start just whining about the hills!?

Walking over to get my number that morning with Penny I was really worried about the run. More worried than I usually get about a 5k. I think the unknown aspect of the course weighing on me was part of it, but the other part was that I was worried about living up to my first 5k of 2014. It's really stupid, but because I ran sub 25 without much work, I wanted to do it again, but I didn't believe that I could.

My legs were feeling heavy from the previous day's run with TNT, which ended up being closer to 8 instead of the planned 6 because of an unscheduled bathroom break. I had started out with my group, but really had to pee, so I turned around on the trail and ran 1/2 a mile to Starbucks and then ran back to the trail at an 8:15 pace to catch the girls at the turn around point, so I was able to finish with them as planned. My breathing had also been not quite right, since I was without an albuterol inhaler due to Penny's fondness of plastic chewing. Though I have to say, being on controller medications daily, has made a HUGE difference! But I still get a nasty cough after I run if I don't take my inhaler before. With both of those things going against me, I figured I would just try to run a 26 something 5k and call it a day.

I had two friends running that morning as well, Rene and Justina. It was Rene's first 5k since starting to run and take control of her life last year. I am so proud of her, because the run was so symbolic of being able to accomplish anything. She's even determined to run faster when we do another 5k on her birthday in March!

I found Justina just a few minutes before the start and we kind of talked about running together, but also decided to just do our own things. I wasn't expecting to do this, but when the race started, I just kind of took off. 300m around the track I knew I was going too fast! I was at 1:15 by my watch, a 6 minute mile pace. I kept going for as long as I could to try to get some distance between me and the pack, but about 5 minutes in I had to walk and start my intervals.

I think Justina passed me during my second walk break, and with the GPS wrong on my iPhone, I can only guess, but I think I my second mile was a full minute slower than my first, considering how fast I went out. Luckily, I sort of knew the trail that we were running, and I had looked at the course map that morning, so I knew where I had to push and how much further I had to go. I caught sight of Justina again after we crossed under Soapstone on the way back to the high school, so I pushed the flats as hard as I could, taking 30 second walk breaks on the hills. I felt bad (not physically, just bad that someone was "catching me") while walking past the photographer up the hill on the way back to the track.

I wish I had been able to run the last 1/2 mile, but I knew I wanted to sprint the finish, so I also walked about 100m on the track, 200m before the finish. I took off with 200m to go and got up to almost my full sprint pace, passing Justina by just a little bit. We ended up placing 45 and 46 respectively for the women, and 9 and 10 in our age group! The big surprise for me was that I broke 25 again. I was 24:58, one second faster than on New Years Day.

It immediately made me think about Thursday night when I was giving the 200 freestyle relay girls their splits. My splits gave two of the girls 24 highs (seconds, not minutes) and the touch pad gave the other two girls 24 highs. So they joked "24's for everyone!" Looks like I get a 24 too!

Photos courtesy of the Potomac River Running Flickr page!

In true PRR Race fashion, the race was well planned, staffed, and coordinated. Kelly was there announcing, which is always nice because she always calls my name out when I run past! All of my craziness and dread about the course was almost negated by how well marked and directed it was. They had both cones and volunteers (I am assuming they were SLHS track kids, since Coach Raczko developed the route and was out there marshaling as well) at every possible turn off. The one thing that was "missing" was a water stop. But for a cold, 5k, that's one of those things that isn't really necessary. Plus, because of my breathing, I actually decided to run with a water bottle that morning.

I will definitely do this race again if I have friends that wanted to run it like I did this year. It's not one I would try to PR on - though the track finish is NICE, it's completely negated by the killer up hill about 1/3 to a 1/2 mile from the finish! Just remember to run with a water bottle if you're a runner that likes to drink often.

I have updated my racing list here.

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