Friday, August 5, 2016

Toys for Tots 5k, Colonia, NJ, 8/4/16

Yesterday was a good day. Well not 11 years ago, but yesterday it was. This morning while running through the woods with Alanna I realized that yesterday was my 11 year “anniversary” of the day I was diagnosed with cancer.  In hindsight, this made yesterday so much sweeter for me.

Yesterday was also my hill repeat day. I started early with Kim and we ran 8 Miles with 10 x 0.2 mile up and 0.2 down hills repeats (4 miles of hills) on a very very steep park road. I pushed myself hard, negative split the workout, and ran the fastest set of hill repeats I have since we started training the cycle.  I did my XTing as soon as I got home.  
I felt good, but I was tired

Wednesday I got a few new pairs of shoes in the mail. Two were trail shoes and one was the lightest road racing flats I have ever owned, NB RC5000. They are about 3 oz.  It is like putting on some sturdy socks with some grip in the bottom.  I have a half marathon coming up soon and I wasn't sure if those “race slippers” would be appropriate.  

Wednesday night I pulled up the race calendar to see if I could find a 5k to test them out this weekend.  Instead I found a 5k 3 miles from my house that started at 7 pm for Thursday.  I had planned to run a double on Thursday, but my second run was supposed to be more relaxed.  I thought about it more throughout the day, realized the price was low, the race was close, and the temperature was cooler this week than it was last week when I ran a PR in 92 degrees and 1 billion percent humidity. I decided to break some “rules” and run two back-to-back hard works on the same day while wearing racing shoes right out of the box. Hey a double worked for me last weekend so I knew I had a shot at running well. I just didn't know how tired my legs would feel after those hills.

I arrive with about 30 minutes to spare. I see Nuno and force him to warm up with me :)  He accepts without having much of a choice and runs about a mile with me. I see Angela as I finished up my warm up and she gives me the low-down on who is fast. I love how in tune she is with the local racing scene!  She tells me that a fast runner who won this last year is back (Chelsea) and she is very good.  I see a woman who looks very speedy and I ask who she is. Angela tells me she is Amy and she was second last year.  Angela also informs me that there is younger blond girl who looks like she may be pretty fast too. 
What I find amazing is that here on a Thursday night, in the middle of Colonia, with a race of maybe 200 runners, there seems to be an awful lot of speedy ladies. 

We line up in the street. The street that recently had the blacktop stripped down because it was being paved. The surface was uneven and I knew the start would be slow because of that. This would be a good thing.  Slow start, Fast Finish.

I line up next to Amy and she introduces herself, says she remembers me from Westfield and we talk a bit. The lead runner from last year lines up next to us. Amy asks about my goal and I tell her that since I ran a 6:18 pace for the 5k last week, I wanted to start with that pace as my first mile (knowing the course was basically flat).  From there I hoped to speed up, if possible, but if my legs feel shot I may have to shut things down. I encourage to come work the race with me.  She points out Chelsea and lets me know that Chelsea is very fast, tends to starts slow and has a very strong finish. That is good to know. We should do that too ;) 

Half the street is has a mat with a corral, but the racers line up across the entire road.  We find out that they want us all to funnel over the starting mat when we are sent off.  That is going to be tight.  I am one row back I am worried about jostling, but it works out just fine. 

From Toys for Tots Central Jersey Facebook Page
The Marine who was responsible for sending us off after making a speech about how this race raises money for Toys for Tots, gives the Go signal and we funnel over the start mat. I start my watch at "Go" and then I split my watch at the mat to get my Gun/Chip time split as well as a more accurate pace for M1.  I was 1.7 second behind the mat. 

I sit behind Chelsea who takes out the pace comfortably  Amy is right behind me and the younger girl pulls up along side.  We made a small pack in Mile 1 and it felt really awesome.  The pace did not feel too fast.  Our pack of ladies starts slowly reeling in an picking off the guys who all started faster and are settling down. I had to use my will power to not pick it up and to just wait. I checked my watch and I was running exactly where I wanted to be.  M1 6:18 

There are moments in Mile 2 where I get ahead of Chelsea. I know I am running faster than at Westfield. I feel great and I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  She passes me back and I am ok with this.  She is not pulling away from me.  

I spend this mile watching her fluid form and thinking about my own. I need to do better. I have been making an effort lately to try to run with much better upper body form. I put a mirror in front ( well, caddy-cornered) of my treadmill, where I can see what my body looks like when I run.  I force my upper body to relax and get my arm swing to look most efficient. I have spent a lot of miles trying to learn what I FEEL like when I LOOK efficient. Then I look away and my form goes back to "normal" where my shoulders are up and the angle of my elbow is much too acute.  The problem is when I run with form that looks better, I actually FEEL slower and it feels harder to hold (but I am actually moving faster). I try to remember this…. I may FEEL like it is slower and harder but that is because this is  actually EASIER to run with better form so I am moving faster as a result and moving faster is harder. 

I spend mile 2 really focused on releasing the tightness and dropping my arms. I catch myself often and make corrections. I wait patiently for Chelsea to drop her kick and pull away, but she does not.  M2 6:14.

I feel phenomenal. Sure, I am tired. My legs are a little jello-y, but I am not toasted. I have another gear.  With a mile to go I open it up. I pass her and I focus on the guy carrying the flag running a 6 minute pace!  I don’t look back.  I pass him too. I focus ahead.  I can feel that she is still with me but the sound of her foot steps are fading. I try to make an authoritative move now and pull ahead further. Open the gap.  I look at my pace. 5:59. It doesn’t feel like 5:59 so I am going to try to hold it. 

Drop those Arms!  

I may actually have a chance to run my first sub-6 mile in a 5k and it will be in the 3rd MILE of the race… That would make my day! I try to hold this pace and hope that my effort to run as fast as I can is enough to hold the lead. 

But as the mile grows on my legs are getting fatigued fast. I stop looking at my pace and just try to focus on form.  

Fast Form. Fast Arms. Relax the shoulders.   

My legs are giving out.  I cant lift them as easily, but I am still ahead and moving.  I am not sure how much race course is left. I am not looking at my watch, but I think we need to make on more turn. I don’t know why I think that. I cant see clearly. My eyes are tearing up. 

I hear foot steps behind me.  

Please be a dude … 

I am so close.. I think.  I don’t know where that finish is because every thing looks blurry.  

The footsteps get louder and I can tell they are little feet… 

Please be a little dude … 

We start going up the unpaved terrible road to the finish… and there she blasts past me. I have nothing to counter with.  I cant even kick.  I have been kicking for the last 6 minutes…. 

She take the lead and pulls away and that is when I realize the finish was not actually around the corner, but just a little further ahead. Heart-breaking, but not really b/c I just ran the fastest 5k of my life and in the smartest way possible and I had nothing left anyway.  

I am thrilled!  M3 - 6:04, Last 0.1 - 6:03

Amy B (3rd OA Female) and Me 
Time: 19:20, 6:13 pace New 5k Lifetime PR
Gender 2nd Female
Award: Actual Prize Money!  No way!

Not a bad way to spend my 11th year anniversary of Survivorship. :) 

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