Monday, July 14, 2014

Runners on Parade 5K {A race recap}

Thursday night, I had a dream.

I was at the start of the Runners on Parade 5K, anxiously awaiting the race to begin. An employee from the local running store came to get me and ushered me to the start. When the gun off, I went. I started to run. Grass beneath my feet and nylon tape marking the course, I stumbled around nervous and confused. Where was everyone? How could I run hard without the race environment to push me? I tried to persevere but, at some point, resorted to an almost gorilla like run to help me keep speed. It did not work.

When I woke up almost frantic Friday morning, I knew that ROP was not just another local 5K. Not for me, anyway. This race was going to be my first real chance in four years to try to break my PR, which I set at the same race in 2010. The other 5Ks I've ran have either been in cold, icy conditions (HERE and HERE) or hours after a long run or pacing a friend.

This race, it was my time.

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I showed up Saturday morning with grand dreams. I knew that I wanted to PR. I knew that it would be nice to come in under 25 minutes. I thought it would be really awesome to see how close I could get to 23:XX. So I tried to do everything right. I ran a very slow warmup of 1.35 miles, did some stretching and dynamic drills.

I found some of the running group, and we began to meander a bit closer to the starting line. This year, there was a bit of corralling with a Saucony tape marking off a section for the fasties - women who anticipated going under 24 minutes and men under the 21-minute mark. I lined up behind the line, as I definitely knew a 23:xx would take a miracle. But, with the tap of the butt and a tug on the arm, I found myself being encouraged to go with the group.

With two minutes to go, I put in my ear buds - something I never do - and tried to get in the zone, shaking out the zoomies.

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The gun went off and I bolted. My 5K MO is to go as hard as you can for as long as you can. It's not the smartest, I acknowledge, but I usually I take off and settle in. On Saturday, I took off and kept going. I wasn't sure how fast I was going - a first I had the display on my watch reading just a clock and when I switched it to see current pace, the downtown buildings had me doing sub-5. Because, you know, I'm Kenyan.

But I was going fast - very fast for me - and I was surprised that I was able to see the fasties with whom I had started. I figured they would be long gone by the time we made the first turn but they weren't. Actually, I had them in my sights for more than a mile.

Why? The first clicked off in 7:14. It's the fastest mile I can remember logging and definitely the speediest split I've seen in a long, long time. I knew that I was going to be in for a surprise - I just didn't know whether it would be good or bad.

I tried to hold on through the second mile but by 1.5, I had hit the puke threshold and was more than glad to see the water stop. I quickly walked through and soldiered on but I was fading. I tried to dig and push, embrace the suck and move. Alas, my body had different ideas. I felt like I was crawling as I ran the streets lined with people waiting for the festival parade that started at 10 a.m.

The course, which is flat, features a lot of turns though most in the front half. When the last one came, I was excited and frustrated. The straightaway seemed so long and my body was so tired. I just tried to keep moving forward because after such a stellar start, did not want to lose this race. Not another one.

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As I came toward the line, the clock read 25 minutes, and the seconds were in the teens. I knew I had my PR. But, I wanted to beat 25:25 - a time that Mark predicted. Coming in under that would win me a running product of choice in Boulder when we go later this month.

It read exactly 25:25 when I crossed. My watch, which I had started at the gun and no crossing the mat, had 25:24.

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Official : 25:15. It was good enough for a 21-second PR and beating Mark by 10 seconds. I did it. I finally did it.

And, the best part, I know I have a faster 5K in me if I don't run like an asshole. I'm not trained to run low 7 splits for a 5K, and it's why the race was so hard. I think with a bit of control, I can come under 25 minutes. It might bum some people out to know that but I got to run fast and hard. I proved to myself that there is still something in me and somewhere to work toward.


  1. Congratulations Speedy! A 7:14 mile - holy shit!

    There is definitely something vomit inducing about shorter races. I felt like I was going to toss my cookies when I finished mine this weekend. I'm seriously considering training for a 5k after the marathon in the fall. I really want to go sub-24.

    1. P.S. Apparently I''m really homesick today because I just got a little teary reading that you'll be getting some running gear in Boulder this week. Ugh, stupid move.

  2. WAY TO GO!
    In other news, we should never run a 5k together, because I, too, tend to run like an asshole. First half mile is always way too damn fast. Mile mantras are pretty much 1-slow down, 2- hang on, 3-don't die. Next weekend, my sole goal is to run even splits. That will probably be harder than trying to PR!
    Have fun picking out your reward!

  3. I KNEW you could do it! You've definitely got more speed in those legs.

  4. Yay!!! So happy for you! I looked for you at the race but you would have been long gone by the time I finished. All that training has really paid off! By the way, I see you got the shirt! Love it! Persistence really paid off!

  5. Congrats on the PR! I totally think you can come in under 24 if you run a more controlled race, like you said (and maybe in the fall when it's cooler?). But why would that bum some people out?

  6. CONGRATS!!! Super excited for you and your new PR! This new time will also help you adjust your speed work and tempo paces slightly so that you are running the right paces for your current fitness level ... which will also help you see gains at the longer distances. Great job lady! xoxo

  7. Great job!! It is so easy to go out too fast in races isn't it! The excitement and the flow of the other runners, I always have a hard time holding back. Congrats on a shiny new PR!

  8. Awesome!! Nice job + a new shiny PR!!! I bet if you focused on training for a 5k you could easily go sub 25! Congrats!!!