Today I ran my first race since last September. I picked this race because it fell in the right place in my training plan, and it is a short drive from my house. My family has been to the Reston Town Center a number of times, so I am familiar with the roads, parking, etc.
Emotionally I place WAY too much energy and emphasis on races. I see them as WAY too important and validating my hard work. I know this is a "thing" for me, and I try to play it down. But, deep inside, they mean a lot to me...definitely more than they should.
Even though this race is in the middle of my training plan, and only considered "a step toward my goal race" in 8 weeks...I still can't help but want to PR and win my age group category. I've been this way since I was 6 years old, playing Little League baseball.
I got to the race early, parked, and had plenty of time to get my shit (physically and emotionally) together. Did my two mile warm-up, changed into my racing flats (NB RC5000), did a few strides, and was ready to go. Quite a few folks were at this race, so I was happy to see the signs by the start sorting people by miles/minute. I slotted myself in front section which said 6:00 - 7:00.
The temperature was in the mid 40's at the start and cloudy. No rain, but it felt like it could any minute. I ended up deciding on a singlet and arm warmers...I think the choice was about right.
The race is sponsored/organized by Potomac River Running, which is a chain of running stores around the DC/Northern Virginia area. The racing series is called "PR Races". These stores also have a team, and the team members show up in force for these races (as they should). All nice people, and all pretty fast. As it got closer to the gun going off, I realized I was somewhat surrounded by the green "PR Running" jerseys. I've run in PR races before, but it seemed a few more team members were in this race. "Good" I thought "lotsa' people to follow".
My race "plan" going in was to run the first mile in 6:05, and adjust from there, hoping to finish under 19:00...well here's how it went:
The first mile is considerable downhill, second mile is up and down, and third mile is mostly uphill. Much more hilly than I expected....so okay...new plan....try running by feel and forget even splits....which I am NOT yet good at.
- Mile 1: 5:52 - um, is this too fast? I didn't know, I was going downhill, so maybe not. But those PR team members were still within range, which gave me concern. They are supposed to be significantly faster than me.
- Mile 2: 5:47 - somewhere toward the end of mile 1 I heard some breathing off my left shoulder. I didn't turn to look, but knew I had some company. After a minute of two this runner passed me, a woman in a PR team jersey. I remembered her from a race last year, and she finished well ahead of me. But, was a thinking rationally? Of course not! So, when she went by, I got on her shoulder and stayed with her through mile 2. Was mile 2 too fast for me? YES. I realized a little too late, and I let her go around the 2 mile mark. I slowly watched her pony tail move farther and farther away
- Mile 3: 6:21: yup. Crash. Well, it was uphill, but I know I went out too fast, because about 5 people passed me, I would hold on for a few seconds, and then have to let them go. In prior races I was the one passing toward the end.....
- Last bit (uphill): :41. Man, I was just hanging and telling myself "Don't quit". I had no kick at all.
I finished 3rd in my age group (45-49), and got a little trophy with a shamrock on it. Cool. I was 13th overall of the men, and 15th is you include the women (438 men ran). The guy that won my age bracket finished in 17:15, holy shite!
Oh...and that woman that dropped me in Mile 2? Finished in 18:15...so yes. staying with her was WAY over my head, and not a smart move.
So, what did I learn? I HAVE to get better at pacing by feel, and knowing what each mile should "feel" like. AND, don't get so caught up in competing with someone faster than me. Let the competitiveness go, dumbass! I think I could have been a few seconds faster with better pacing. But, still a HUGE PR, with the the "peaking" part of my training cycle ahead of me. I'm stoked, and energized to keep working hard.
And, of course, since this is the "Lucky Leprechaun" race, clothing MUST be appropriate. I found some shamrock shorts online and my wife added some running shamrocks to my singlet. Nice.
My goal race this cycle is a 10k in 8 weeks. I'm going to run a couple more 5k's and an 8k along the way...