When I left the house the weather report predicted about 76 degrees (not too bad) but with 93% humidity (OMG!) for this 5k. This is just horrid!
I was pretty tired from running 21 miles yesterday, even though it was an easy pace (just around 10 minutes per mile). Yesterday was just as bad as today with the humidity building all morning and made those miles tough.
Today's race, starting at 9 am, was oppressively stifling. It was so humid that I had to take off my calve sleeves because even just that extra layer was making me very very uncomfortable. I met Martin J. and we warmed up a bit. I only ran just over a mile before I lined up to start.
This was a USATF-NJ Open Women's Championship race. I knew I would be lucky to be in the top 10 and would be pleased if I was in the top 20. The race had 760 runners with 351 female. Some of the fastest women in the state travel for this race and I never was and will never be a great 5k runner. Still, with this race being chip timed at the finish but lacking a start mat, that meant it was basically a gun-timed race and that meant I needed to lined up towards the front. I was about 3 or 4 rows back.
I knew this course from last year and I am not truly in love with it. We start on a mildly rolling descent out... until we hit a turnaround, then return on a somehow super hilly return trip. ;) Yes, it is the same road but on the way out the downhills are noticeable, but after running hard for 1.5 miles, the rolling incline becomes tough on the way back. BUT then we get to finish the last tenth or so on the track. I do love track finishes!
After the cannon start, I tried to find a fast pace that would allow me to use that downhill but not get me working so hard that I would blow up on the way back up. I let a lot of people go, hoping they would tire and I could pass some on the return trip. M1 - 6:15
I was happy with that split. I didn't feel like it was really that fast so I hoped maybe I could hold myself together in the second half. As we made our way around the turn around, I grabbed two cups of water and it felt so go to just douse myself with one. I don't care what anyone says about dumping water on yourself in a race being a bad idea, for me it just gives me such a boost.
Immediately after the water stop we start to go back up the rolling uphill and almost immediately I start passing people. I reflect on my last week's 100 miles of training and realize that already I can tell the hard work is helping me to run stronger. I know I will fade as I continue on because there is nothing I can do about going uphill, but I just don't want to be passed by any women and I am not. M2 - 6:28
This last mile would be all elevation gain back to the track and I knew it was going to hurt. My asthma, triggered by humidity and made worse by hills, is killing my chest requiring me to make involuntary whooping noises periodically which seems to open up my airways (while making me sound ridiculous). I am fading but trying to hold myself together, just waiting to drop a fast kick on the track. I am still passing people as I approach mile 3, except for the one man who blows past me. That's ok, he not a chick so good for him! M3 - 6:46
As soon as we get through the gate to the track I catch up to Joe and we both launch into an all out sprint to the finish. I cant recall the last time I sprinted that hard at the end of a race and neither of us gave up. It was photo finish and I wasn't actually sure who won. According tot he results, I just edged him but I suspect he let me have it since I know he is faster than me. Last .11 - 38 second (5:39 pace).
It took me a long time to catch my breath, which is really hard to do when drooling and dry heaving at the same time. TMI? LOL. After I got to my senses I realized that I had just run my second fastest 5k of my life in horrible humidity after a 21 mile run the day before. I have only broken 20 minutes one time. I will never be a great 5k runner, but I usually need it to be cold for me to run fast for me.
I am really happy with this race.
Time: 20:09 (6:29 pace)