This race is a fundraiser for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Team in Training (TNT) raises money for this organization by asking athletes to volunteer to fund raise to help the LLS fight the battle against blood cancers. I am a captain for the Monmouth and Middlesex County TNT teams and love when a race I want to do also supports a cause I am involved with.
Bill, also a captain and fund -raising marathoner for TNT, joined me at the 5k. He also agreed to come meet me early for some warm up miles. I have been cutting back my mileage because my plantar fascia is feeling achy lately and I have an important race this weekend. I still wanted to get at least 10 miles in today. Originally I wanted 20... then 15... then decided, 10 should be enough ;)
This race started at 12:30 pm. It was very warm by then. People were grumbling in the parking area about the start time, but I was ready to roll with it.
I honestly feel frightened by 5k's. I am a huge chicken at the start of each of these races. I used to race a 5k once per week, but it has been a very long time since my last 5k. I am more comfortable and less anxious starting a 24 hour race than I am at a 5k. There is something about running full speed from start to finish that just hurts and there is no room to fall off pace and recover.
I lined up towards the front, decided to get a few rows back because I really did not expect to win the thing.. but would regret this later. The race was large and when the gun went off it was as if my side of the starting line was made up of runner who were just out for a stroll. I should have known I made a bad decision to start behind the guy in sweat pants and the row of young kids. But hey, sometimes you just don't know what people will do.
Since the first turn was to the left, I started on the left, but it seemed the entire right side of the starting area beat my side to the first turn. This created a situation where I was boxed in and had a lot of work to do. It took me until the first turn to just get out from behind sweat pants guy and the children. LOL!!
Like usual, these slow starts are really not as bad as they seem and I was out of the pack before I knew it. Through the windy turns, I began to pick off people and hit M1 at 6:38 and felt very good.
I was feeling good and as we hit the main straightaway into a noticeable, but not too bad, headwind I decided that I wanted to conserve a little. We hit the circle turnaround and I counted two women ahead of me. I saw a man heading into the circle point to someone behind me and hold up 4 fingers. I did not look back, but I deduced that this meant the 4th place female was on my butt. Although, I felt like I slowed down a lot, M2 clocked in at 6:46.
I could see the 2nd place woman ahead of me in the distance. I have seen her before and I know she runs well. However, I felt like this time I was moving faster than her at this point in the race. We had a long, over a mile, stretch to go down the main street before me turned towards the finish. I focused on her and wondered if I could catch her.
As I watched the street signs count down the distance, 24th street, 23rd, 22nd, 21st,... I knew I had to push myself to just hold the pace. It was the longest mile and at about 17th street I could feel my form beginning to fall apart. There was about .5 miles to go and I was proud that I held it together that long.
As I hurried towards the Starting Line (which we ran through on our way to the finish) I began to wonder if I could set a new PR. My best 5k, 20:27, was a long time ago. I have not run dedicated speed work. I just log LSD and do some progression runs mid-week. I was hopeful but I knew it would be close.
I could see that I was reeling in the woman ahead, but as we hit the last turn I knew she was out of reach. We both kicked it in and she finished about 5 seconds ahead of me. As the clock ticked the time, I saw it was already 20:25 and I still had a stretch to go until I reached the finish. I ran the last 1.1 miles in7:11 (6:32 pace), the fastest part of this race.
Looking back on my splits, I am very pleased with how I executed this race. Although I don't feel very swift, I do feel strong. As I told Bill at the finish line, this sport is amazing because it is honest. If you work hard, stay healthy, and pace yourself smart, you will see positive results. I am grateful to have been able to train very high mileage and now I am seeing how the LSD pays off even when racing the short/fast stuff!
20:32 (6:38 pace)
I won a really nice cookie jar with a note inside that said "We are proud of you" :) (Thanks!)