I actually slept until my alarm yesterday morning. That’s rare for a race day. I didn’t wake up early and I wasn’t super nervous. I slowly got up and started my race morning routine of getting ready. We headed over to the race site plenty early and easily found parking across the street where we wouldn’t have to dodge runners to get out later.
Serious face before the race:
About 45 minutes before the start we headed over to the start/finish area. I did a few slow warm up runs on the trails in the park to get my legs and body ready for the run. Since my last race was only a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t spent much time focusing on this race and setting goals. I had a business trip and a dental emergency that distracted me in the days before the race. On Saturday I was busy with yard work, house work, and a family dinner. I had pulled my previous race time was just hoping to get close to that.
There were markers for different starting lines based on expected time. I feel like people didn’t follow them very well. I lined up slightly ahead of the time I expected because I didn’t want to start behind a group of children. The start was incredibly slow. It was a large group of people that narrowed down to get over the timing mat and then spread out. There were a few curves and then a right turn. I ran on the left to see my buddy who almost missed me….I had to yell and wave for him to notice me. Then I started dodging people to get to the right side of the course (all right turns so I wanted to make it as short as possible).
My buddy almost missed me…I had to yell at him to get his attention when I was right in front of him.
A half mile in there is a hill that last for about half a mile. It’s a long hard hill. As people were already dropping out to walk I was passing them and trying to find someone running a comfortable pace. I found a woman who was steadily moving and ran on her heels for a while. Eventually she was losing steam and I passed her. I ran the entire hill and didn’t even think of walking. The hill and the mess at the beginning really controlled my pace.
After that hill the course flatted out quite a bit. I fought to keep my pace steady. Eventually my friend from the hill passed me and I thanked her for getting me up the hill. I just kept moving. I saw my buddy who apparently almost didn’t make it in time. I was running a little faster than he expected.
How did this car get into the course?
In the beginning I knew my pace was faster than last year but it was so close I just assumed I would lose it along the way like I do in most races. I tend to start fast and then fade and slow down throughout the entire course. I’ve been trying not to do that anymore. The bad start and the hill prevented it yesterday but the hill was also a lot of work.
I ran through the longest section and kept hoping that I was getting to the next turn. There is a section that is over a mile on one road. It seems to go on forever. Finally as I was approaching the turn I had to figure out how to dodge someone and not get squeezed out in the turn. I called out to let her know I was coming on the inside and speedily made my way through the turn. That section was actually my fastest. There was nice downhill stretch and then I hit some smaller rolling hills. I did everything I could to stay steady. The sun was pounding in my face as this point and I had to convince myself that I was not too hot. I just tried to keep moving.
Throughout the race I was watching a mom and her little boy sprint and then walk and then sprint and then walk. I was keeping a steady pace and was passing them when they walked only for them to pass me when they sprinted. I wanted to talk to the kid to tell him to try to run a steady pace but never got the chance. At mile 3 she started yelling at him to keep moving….at mile 3.5 she unleashed on him and said he would look like a fool if he didn’t run the rest…..I was pretty offended by this …..for myself and for the other people behind me that were struggling or were just slower. Finishing a race will never make you look like a fool….no matter what your time is. We all have good days and bad and most of us are only racing ourselves.
As I made the final main road turn I hit a small hill but tried to pick up my pace a bit. As I ran downhill on the other side I knew I was close to the finish and decided to stop looking at my watch and to run as fast I could and lay it all out and see where I ended up. In the last stretch into the parking lot I passed someone who was walking and offered a little encouragement….he was able to start running again and passed me.
As I neared the finish line I thought it was further than it actually was….as I noticed I was wrong I made one last push and passed one lady at the very end. I lifted my arms for a final picture.
When I looked at my watch I was in complete shock…..I had PR’d…..I beat last years’ time by 37 seconds and according to my watch my pace was 7 seconds per mile faster (my watch distances varied from last year to this year….and from the course distance). I was super tired but super happy. My buddy ran over to catch up with me but I didn’t say anything. I just showed him my watch. He was happy and knew it was a good time for me. I grabbed a bottle of water and a small amount of food. I walked around for a few minutes and then we made our way back to the car. I had a super big runner’s high. It felt really good to PR.
I was even more shocked when I looked at my splits and realized they were all within 3 seconds of each other. I ran so consistently. I’ve never actually done that in a race. I always start fast, fall apart, and try to make up a little at the end. But this time I started slow thanks to people and the hill….and then I just maintained it throughout. This is what I have been working to do.
I think the track work has really been helping me. Focusing on speed is good for me. I’m almost ready to start running more than 400 intervals. I know it will be hard but I know it will help me.
Now it’s time to increase my distance again. My next race is an 8k but I have a little bit of time to get there….and quite frankly. I already am there….I could run 5 miles today without too much trouble. I need to focus on my speed while doing it.