5K* run - 21:17 [6:51/mile]
22/282 OA, 4/150 F, 1/58 AG (minus top 2 women)
*long course - see below
As we all know I've been kind of sucked into the siren song of the marathon for the majority of the past year, and have really been neglecting other races in general, but especially my good friend the 5K. I realized recently that my last 5K race was a YEAR ago and given that my birthday is next week, I figured I had to run at least one 5K at the age of 22...and so I found the Herring Run. I won't lie, a small part of my reason for doing this particular race (besides the fact that it was cheap and actually accessible by T - it's harder to find a race that meets those criteria than you would think) was that I looked at the results from years past and got the impression that I would actually have a chance to race for place/an AG award - which I've discovered is an incredible rarity in the Boston area. In Wisconsin virtually every road race I ran (including my first ever 5K, where I ran a high 28 minute time) I was in the age group awards - generally second or 3rd, occasionally first. Mainly because the pool of runners in Wisconsin simply isn't as big, and the really good, younger runners that do exist there aren't running the Shamrock Shuffle, generally. Well then I moved to Boston and found the 'magic' of not only 10 year age groups (instead of 5 year) and a slew of speedy, speedy club runners, and I knew my chances of winning anything ever again were out the window for the forseeable future unless I got a whole lot faster. So finding a race where I actually had an opportunity to compete for place versus time was definitely a draw for me.
OK well now that I've bored you all with my reasons for running the race, let's talk about the actual race shall we? So first off I'm even more thrilled with this performance than I would have been, since I've discovered in browsing the blog-o-sphere today that the consensus via time comparisons and Garmins was that the course was long - most definitely a 3.2 mile race. I'm not overly surprised since it was a VERY low key race - no chips, mile markers were pieces of paper taped to cones, start line was just 2 cones on the path, etc - but with such a low key race I worried more about the course being short since that kind of negates the goodness of a good time. So I'm very glad to hear that the race was not only a) not short but b) long. Kind of unfortunate because take off that extra .1 and it puts me at like a 20:30, but I guess I will just have to do that on an accurate course, hmm?
Anyway I woke up race morning and was not really all gung ho about going to race. I just sort of threw on whatever clothes I could find and wound up wearing my high school track singlet and some random spandex shorts, just another testament to the fact that I was super relaxed about this race and really wasn't thinking about racing at all. Got on the T, got downtown, switched to the orange line, waited forever, got on the train, got off at Wellington. It took me a bit to get my bearings but I got over to the race site without too much hassle. I picked up my number and started scoping out the competition. Girl in the plaid shorts, keep an eye on her, ooh, that red haired chick looks fast...etc. As I said it was kind of weird actually thinking about people to beat instead of just focusing on a specific time, and that was nice - actually being able to RACE other people. I went off to warm up for a little bit and my knee was acting kind of funny - I think I must have twisted it at work or something - but it calmed down and shortly after I headed down to the start for lack of anything better to do.
We lined up and I took stock of the women around me. There were about 8 of us in the front 3 rows or so and I figured I wanted to be ideally in the top half of that. The whistle blew and we were off - immediately, 6 of said women were out in front of me. Crap! Am I running fast enough? How fast am I running? How do I run a 5K again? I literally didn't know what was going on haha. Sooo I did the only thing I knew how to do - pick a girl, reel her in, pass her. I closed on grey tank top girl fast, then came on to coral combo and Boston 2000 shirt running together. Once I got past those two, I knew I was in 4th or 5th position - plaid shorts was up ahead but she was already too far away for me to make a play at passing her. So the new goal was to hold position. I came through mile 1 in 6:28 and pretty much immediately knew I was getting a road PR today. My biggest concern had really been that I wasn't going to remember how to run fast and go through the first mile in like 7:15. Clearly that wasn't going to be a problem, though I knew there was no way in hell I was holding on to 6:28. Maintain, maintain, maintain. I felt kind of sick to my stomach, but breathing and legs were okay. The course was basically flat, a couple little rises and one point where we had to go up and over a bridge, but nothing major. It was really pretty, running through parks and paths near the Mystic River, lots of shade, really nice stuff.
Near the 2 mile, there was a turnaround where you could see the leaders coming around the bend. I made the turn, passing a guy in the process, and looked back to assess the competition situation. Coral outfit was maybe 15 seconds back, with Boston shirt about 5 back from her. OK....they are probably in as much pain as you are....hold on, one more mile. A guy near the turn called out "4th woman" to me - so there it was, I was exactly where I thought/wanted to be, now I just needed to stay there. Mile 2 was 6:59 [given that the race was long I'm not 100% sure if all the mile splits are exactly accurate but whatever, we'll go with it] and I was like gaaah, if you go over 7 you're not going to be happy, it's almost over. I had forgotten the suffering that is the last mile of a 5K. But at the same time my mind is like - hello? One mile? That's like...nothing. There was a pack of 3 men directly in front of me and I tried to hang onto them. I was feeling more and more like vomming on the side of the path and ohh man I wanted this to be over. We got up onto the bridge and the slight little rise felt like a mountain, ahh, but downhill on the other side. I passed a man going over and now I finally knew where we were, maybe 1000 to go. I willed myself to pick it up but my legs weren't having it, okay, hold pace it is. I couldn't hear footsteps or breathing or anything behind me, so I was pretty confident I was clear of the duo I'd been trying to stay ahead of. We passed the "3 mile" - 6:58, woo hoo, I didn't slow down!!! Down to the finish line, trying to kick, feeling like it had better be over soon or I'm going to puke on someone. And finally...I was coming to the finish, I saw 21:10 on the clock, knew this was going to be a road PR for sure, slammed my watch, DONE! I had 21:15 on my watch, 21:17 was the official - with no chip timing what are ya gonna do? I congratulated the 3rd place woman who was coming out of the chute on the other side, then on my way out high fived 5th place (coral) and 6th (Boston). I guess the finishing order was pretty much determined after half a mile haha.
I was incredibly thirsty, and my stomach still wasn't happy, but when I was offered chili I took it for some reason. Seriously, these Massachusetts races win at life in terms of post-race food. This was the smallest race I've been to in awhile, and there was a full spread of fruit, granola bars, vitamin water, coffee, chili, cookies, bagels...fantastic. The chili was actually really delicious although it seemed kind of strange to be eating it at 9:30 in the morning. I sort of meandered around for awhile, cheering for the incoming runners, eating some stuff...it's sort of weird racing alone because you don't really have anyone to talk to while you're waiting around for things. That's fine by me when I'm being hardcore and really focusing on the race but sometimes you just need someone to chatter and be ridiculous with. I was also RIDICULOUSLY tired...I actually considered going and taking a nap in the grass while waiting for awards buuut I didn't. Finally it was awards time - the winning girl looked like she was in high school and ran 19 high, 2nd place was 20:08 or so, 3rd was 20:20. Since the top 3 overall go out of the running for AG awards, I got to be AG champ! Yippee!! No medals, but something even better - a table full of gift cards to pick from! [and propane tanks and raspberry bushes...lol...seriously]. So I am excited about my $50 gift card to a pizza place in the North End, and I think the BF is too [he was like, you should win races more often! haha]
Overall, I am EXTREMELY pleased with this race. Between taper, Boston, and recovery, I haven't done any form of speedwork in 6 weeks, and my highest mileage week in the month since Boston has been 30, so to come out and run a road PR [which would have been an even bigger PR had the course not been long] is a pretty sweet deal. What is crazy to me is that assuming that the course WAS long, so assuming I actually ran 20:30-20:40 for the actual distance of 3.1 miles...that makes me think that if I actually did some speedwork I could ACTUALLY PR in the 5K this summer...not just a road PR, but an honest to goodness fastest time I've ever run on a track or a road or a golf course or whatever PR. I was talking with the BF and he said "well, I guess you were wrong, I guess marathon training didn't make you slower after all". I was thinking about it and I think that marathon training didn't make me faster, but it didn't make me slower either - so that's a gain of zero. BUT - it made me STRONGER - and that really made the difference.
So a fantastic race, gorgeous day, road PR, AG win....what more could I want? Let's just say I'm definitely going to need to race more this summer...possibly as early as next weekend [yes, I may have been talked into a 12K in New Hampshire. More details soon! :)]