Monday, April 20, 2009

It's a beautiful night for a PR

This is what was running through my mind as I laced up my spikes and strided out on the football field at St. Mary's Minnesota. All of the ridiculous nerves I had last week at Platteville were replaced by complete calm. I wanted to run a good race, but at the same time, I knew I could do it. I wasn't expecting anything, and I knew in the ridiculous field that worrying about place wouldn't even be an option, so I just felt confident that I could run my race, and that's what I was going to do. The night air was cool, calm, and there was an electricity to running under the lights that just got me pumped up. "It's a beautiful night to run fast."

But first, the ridiculousness that came before...
We left the Union at 11:30, one of 4 cars that were making the 3 hour trek to Winona. I actually wasn't thinking about the race much at all on the way there, and I was glad I brought a book (The Kite Runner, which I've been planning on reading forever and am just now finally getting around to) because it was a looooong drive. We got to the track about 15 minutes after the meet was supposed to start...and it hadn't. We heard that they were starting late...then there was another announcement that they "would know in 10-20 minutes when the meet would be starting". As it turned out, the starter wasn't there. He was in Lacrosse. I really don't know how that works, since pretty much the ONE thing you need to have a track meet is a starter with a gun...but keep in mind that this is the first track meet this school has ever held, on their brand new track. Which was gorgeous, by the way...I love the bluffs along the Mississippi.

I took some pictures since I had nothing better to do while sitting around in the was like 75...HOT! I remember being yelled at by Fischer to get under the bleachers and out of the sun in high school...and that's when I was running the 100 hurdles. I feel like the sun sapping your energy is more of a problem when you're running a 5K. Ohh well. The meet eventually got underway (an hour late), and soon it was time to watch the men's steeplechase. A couple WTC guys were running this without having so much as run over a hurdle before...and the results were say the least...

Awesome? Yes. And he didn't even end up getting last! So the meet went on. Some more super sweet WTC PRs, especially from Jade who ran a 4:53 in the 1500...holy SHIT she's fast! I was trying really hard to stay hydrated, since that always seems to be a problem for me at meets, and especially in the heat. Brittany and I spent a lot of time refilling our water bottles in the SMU "Student Center"...which looked more like a crappy hotel lobby. They also had a bizzare display focused on their bubbler being a member of the SMU Athletics Hall of Fame, which Brittany and I thought was absolutely hilarious. There were also some absurd last names of people, the highlight of which was a couple of guys in the 100 with the last names "Yerhot" and "Wockenfus"...except it sounded like "Rockinpuss". Somehow this escalated into a bunch of us deciding that a great name for a movie (porn?) would be Yerhot Rockinpuss & the Bubbler of Glory. Yeah, don't ask me. Track meets make us act like we're on crack...its science.

So fast forward a few hours of ridiculousness to ~an hour before race time. Annnnd now is when I start getting nervous. Brittany and I went out on a warmup and my legs just felt crappy, I felt kind of dizzy (which I'm starting to realize might be a nervous thing, since I think its happened to me before every race this season). Then of course, I had to pee (apologies for the TMI, but this is definitely a major nervous problem of mine)...and OF COURSE, there was no toilet paper. Standard luck. Speaking of bad luck, the next thing that happened was sad but kind of hilarious. So last week at Platteville, they didn't have hip numbers above 19, so I had to wear 2 2's for 22...not only were they shitty hip numbers to begin with, but when you have 6 inches of sticker on your hip things just get crazy. So I was all excited as I walked up to the check in table because I saw that they actually had numbers for the 20s! I said something about it and explained to the lady about the week before. Well as it turns out, they did indeed have numbers in the 20s...
except 22.
Which of course, happened to be my number.

I was laughing so hard - I mean seriously, how does that even happen? They at least ripped the 2s off of some 29s so the numbers were a little smaller, but it was seriously hilarious.

I think that's what finally ended my nervousness. As I started doing strides I realized, hey, my legs feel kind of GOOD! The weather was perfect, we were under the lights, and that's when I started thinking - It's a beautiful night for a PR.

We got on the line, the ref was being an idiot and thought it was the 3K (seriously, who WAS this guy?), a LaX girl made some comment about how he was an hour late and then....bang. We were off.

The first mile went by pretty fast - I was actually kind of hanging on to the back of the pack, and one girl was even behind me. Annnd then we hit the mile. At 6:05. Shit. I know I said I wanted to go out fast but...that's not what I meant. But what's done is done, and I had no choice but to keep going. The stupidity of that first mile hit me about halfway through the second. All of a sudden I simultaneously got a side stitch (again!! why??) and felt my legs start seizing up. Oh. No. This is not happening. The entire second mile was really unpleasant. The one girl from wherever (St Mary's maybe?) I had been in front of passed me, and I was noooot feeling good. I came through the 2-mile in 12:40. 6:35 for the second mile = FAIL. I was concerned about that, but I tried to focus - my plan was that if I could get through the 2 mile in under 12:45, I could break 20. So I bore down. I heard Dallas yelling at me that I had to run a 6:30 mile to break 20. Wait a second...that means I have to SPEED UP? That's when I started getting concerned. But I knew that if I didn't get this because I was a moron and had to follow the crowd and go out in 6:05, I was going to be so incredibly pissed. And that I just had to do it - for everything. For all of the hard work that I've put in since January, because I knew I could, and because this dream that seemed absolutely impossible at the beginning of the season was on the verge of happening. 800 to go. It was starting to get bad legs were tying up, and I started feeling like I was going to puke...and yet I continued to try to speed up. I was running completely by myself now - and in a way, I feel like that's how running should be sometimes, just you out there, fighting yourself as your only competitor. I looked at my watch with 400 to go, and I don't honestly remember what it said, but in that moment I knew, just knew, that I had it. I pulled out one of the best kicks of my life, speeding up and then absolutely pulling the trigger with 200 to go. I sprinted out every ounce of life in me...and then I hit the finish, slamming my stopwatch. I looked down and saw the beautiful, beautiful numbers:
[official time 19:54.62...but who's counting]

The point is, it started with a 19.

So yes, I dropped 24 seconds from last week. And silenced my own doubts that there was no way I would ever be good enough to run under a 20 minute 5K. As I said - I know that this is by no means a fantastic time compared to everyone else running the 5K in D3. And most likely, I'd be placing higher if I was running the steeplechase. But at this point, I don't care. I think I have accomplished more this track season than I ever have, running-wise. I picked a goal that I basically figured was impossible, somehow realized that it was actually a possibility, and I did it. I have one more 5K to race on Saturday, but regardless of how that goes, the season is a success. But while we're at it, I might as well try to drop some more time....

On a less exciting note, I had a really hard time with tonight's workout. It was most likely the combination of 8.5 hungover miles @ 7:15 pace yesterday [note: I'm an idiot] + dance performance last night + work @ 6 am this morning + legs all of a sudden remembering that, oh yeah, I PRed by 24 seconds on Friday = suckfest. The workout was 5 x 1000 @ 5K goal pace (which is now a complete mystery to me, since I never even considered goal times under 20:00, but apparently has now been upgraded to somewhere in the 19:40-19:30 range).
1: 3:52 (19:20 pace)
2: 3:59 (19:55 pace)
3: 4:01 (20:05 pace)
4: 3:58 (19:50 pace)
5: 3:52 (19:20 pace)
I can't decide whether to call it a win, fail, or draw. My legs felt like shit, and I wanted to throw up on the last 2, but then again, my last 2 were also faster and I somehow pulled a fast one out at the end. The 3rd one was the worst - it was one of those deals where I start thinking about how crappy I feel and how slow I'm going, wonder why I can't go faster, and it makes me freak out, hyperventilate, and thus feel shittier. But anyway, all things considered, I guess it went OK.

I'm just going to stop rambling now because this has gone on forever...but yeah, running. Running is sweet.

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