Saturday, January 5, 2008

2008 Legacy Park Unleashed 5K

18 seconds. I missed my goal by 18 seconds, finishing in 25:18 by my count (25:19 by the manual race timer). It was enough to win first in my age division (40-49), as well as a better time than anyone in the younger age division (30-39). It was second place for female masters. So, what happened? Why didn't I break 25 minutes?

My goal was to run a consistent pace for the entire race at 8:00 / mile. My actual pace / mile was 7:59. By that measure, I met my goal.
  • Mile 1: 7:51
  • Mile 2: 8:04
  • Mile 3: 8:07
  • Last stretch pace: 7:19
I lined up pretty close to the start, and, caught up in the excitement, took off way-too-fast (showed just above 6 minutes / mile pace in the beginning), and did the "grab myself by the collar from behind," telling myself to slow down, slow down (allowing many runners to pass me when I didn't feel the need to slow down). I really wanted to hit pretty close to 8:00 for mile one. It worked, and I was feeling pretty good at the end of the first mile.

Then the hills began, and by the end of mile two, I was feeling appropriately miserable. By the 4K mark, I just wanted to throw up somewhere. All I could think was, "Oh, please, can I just stop for a second. Must hurl. Must rid myself of my churning stomach contents." I was supposed to be kicking it in for the final mile, but the hills were more than I expected, and I was running into the wind. I had stopped looking at my pace and just ran as well as I could.

With a half mile to go, I was ready to quit. Where was the bus? If I'd have seen it, I'd have gotten on and ridden home. I forced myself to pass a runner behind whom I'd run much of the previous mile, and then as we got closer to the finish, he edged slightly ahead of me. I did pass a few others along the way, and stayed ahead of them. With maybe a 100 yards to go, a woman in a pink jacket sprinted ahead of me. She turned out to be the the masters winner (she was in the 50-59 age group), and she finished 3 seconds ahead of me. I think her last name was Rosenthal. An impressive kick at the end, I found myself cheering her in spite of my misery. It never really occurred to me at this point to try to beat her. Of course, the thought has occurred to me now. Could I have run 3 seconds faster?

The gentleman that passed me just towards the end walked up to me a few minutes after the finish and handed me a bottle of water, encouraging me, "tremendous run, young lady." Wow, that felt good--never underestimate the power of encouraging others. The water was quite welcome, and was only available inside in the gym. So, it was some effort to go get it (I hadn't bothered).

The final distance, according to my Garmin, was 3.17 miles. Had it been a few 100ths of a mile closer to 3.1 (like, say, 3.13), I would have beaten 25 minutes. Had it been a little flatter, even, I could have finished in under 25 minutes. But, I didn't, and only my finish time really matters. Completely ambivalent about my performance, I am both thrilled to have won my age division (and even a few others ;-)), made my per mile pace goal, but sorely disappointed in not breaking 25 minutes.

But, don't worry. I haven't peaked yet.

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