Monday, October 3, 2016

Little Silver 5k (sub-19!), USATF-NJ Open Women's Team Championship, Little Silver NJ, 10/2/16

So...Anthony bought me a shirt from WWE,
even though I do not watch WWE.
I wore it today, just to make him happy.
Mission Accomplished :)
I promised Anthony I would run the Little Silver 5K since it was a USATF-NJ Open Ladies Team Championship and even though I am 40 I could still drop down and compete as an Open runner.  This race came after my first real rest week after my marathon and two half marathons. 

If I was going to race this 5k, I wanted to try to run my best.  The last 5k I raced was a PR in 19:19, but that was in early August when I was on the track doing a lot of speedwork. I was building up to Peak for my goal marathon. Since that race, I have tapered, run my goal marathon, and took the last few weeks to step back from high volume training to allow for some recovery… BUT, I have run two half marathons since then for good reasons.

My half marathon last week went very well. I just have not gotten any speed work at the paces I feel I should have to prepare a 5K PR. But I also remember running hills repeats the morning of my current 5k PR. And the weather, back in August, was very hot and humid.  One hand, I have not seen a track since early August and that is a long time (but I have done intervals on my treadmill but not as fast as I would have done them on the track). The lack of quality speed sharpening made me question if could maintain a new PR pace. But the cool weather and the fact that I have really peaked in fitness this September, and because my last PR was set after a AM hill training session, all allowed me to believe I did have a real solid chance at a new PR and maybe even a sub-19.  So I decided to go for it.

This was basically a flat course. One lap and a track finish. I love track finishes! All week long I had visualized breaking 19.  I planted the seeds.  I knew I had a shot. This would be 20 second PR. If I paced this flat course properly I had a chance. 

My goal was to maintain control of myself and start off at 6:12 pace (one second faster than my current PR pace).  Each mile after, I wanted to run a few seconds faster, ideally finishing with my first bona fide sub-6 Mile in a race (that did not have a massive descent).  I wanted my Last mile to be my fastest!  If I averaged 6:07 or better by the end of the race, I could break 19.  So there was my plan… 6:12-6:07-5:59 and kick to break 19:00. 

Sub-6!  I was really excited to try to run a sub-6 mile at the end. I remember when I was stuck at 7:00. I had so much trouble getting used to the idea that I could average in the 6:5x range that it seemed more like a mental block than a true limit to my physical ability

So today my mantra became Don’t Fear the Five!” 

Angela, a Clifton Road Runner teammate, and I did a short warm up.. with some speed to it because I thought the start was much closer than it actually was.  With 4 minutes to go and us not being at the starting line, I was getting worried. The fast ending pace to the warm up helped. 
I lined up at the front since I know I plan to start at 6:12. A few people jump in front to me.  I am sure they are not 6 minute milers, but this is how it goes at road races. (And I saw them finish in the 25:00+ range at the end of the race so they were truly not seeded properly).  I expect to get jammed up for the first few steps and just hope I can smoothly get through them.

The gun goes off and the road is wet and slippery. I can feel my feet slip back with each step. I worry that this will slow me down.  Every second counts and losing some energy return from every step is not going to help me PR.  I do get a good start. Once out of traffic, I look at my watch and it says 5:52 pace.  I count at least 10 ladies in front or beside me at this pace.  Wow!

I assessed myself.  I feel great, my breathing was good,  my energy was good, but the pace was too fast.  I remember my mantra “Don't Fear the Five!” but NOT in mile 1

I know too much to run myself into the ground in the first 6 minute of a 5k. I settled down quickly to get on my pace plan (there is no excuse for not following a plan when all we need to do is slow down pay attention to the computer attached to our wrists). I appreciated tremendously how comfortable I felt.  M1 6:11

M1 on target! So now I need to focus on M2.  I am running with a group of fast women.  It is awesome to run like this.  I feel stronger in a group than I do on my own, but I was focusing on My Plan and I wanted to get M2 to a 6:07, if possible. I felt strong. My breathing was good. My body felt good. One woman, Chelsea, broke away with me from our group of 4 during this mile. Together, we worked to pass some ladies who had gone out faster than us.  M2 6:03

Mile 2 was 4 seconds faster than I planned, BUT I felt good and my breathing was good.  I was ready to get to work on my mission to see a sub-6 mile as the last mile of my race.  

Don't Fear the Five!”

As we start mile 3, I remember where I met Chelsea. She was the runner who pushed me to my PR 5k in August.  That day, I sat behind her until M2. Then I pulled ahead of her in the last mile. I tried to get my pace to a 5:59 for that final mile, but my legs got so heavy in the last .1 that I could not hold it.  She blasted past me with a strong kick.  She beat me, but she pulled me to a 15 second PR that day.

Here we are starting Mile 3 and I am once again aiming for sub-6.  My watch is still reading 6:03 pace but my average pace is now 6:05! This means if I can hold a 6:05 pace I can break 19!…

She says “You got this” and I pull slightly ahead. She is letting me pull ahead again. I have a sense that she is really not giving up, but rather planning to do the same thing as last race. To sit back, just behind me, let me set the pace, and then blast past me on the track. This is a good strategy. It works. Knowing I am racing a smart racer, who seems to use strategy as well as speed, makes racing more fun for me. I don't really know how much she or others think about strategy, but imagining she was planning to try to blast past me again lit a fire under me and helped me focus.

Fast Form. 
Drop the arms. 
No wasted motion.  

Photo posted on GSTC Facebook page. 
Don't get out kicked again.

It feels like we just passed the Mile 2 mark when some guy yells out “Half Mile to go!”  I look at my watch and it is still in the 15:xxs!  This is crazy.  I cant believe I am doing this!

I think about Tempo Pace.  I think about Lactate Threshold. I think NOW is the time to really dig deep and push my limits.  Burn out at the finish... but not a step before. 

I dig deep. My breathing is NOW get labored. Good. This is the right time, at 2.75 miles into the race… not .75 miles in.  We turn into the school and make our way to the track.  I try to do math but my mind is fuzzy.  All I think is 22 second per 100 meter is what I used to run on the track. But that means nothing really since the finish is on some random point on the back stretch and am too fussy to figure out how much longer I have to run.  I glance at my watch and see I am in 18:2x.  This is going to be close.

I dig harder. I kick. Some person BLAST past me.  It's a guy. Phew. I can see the finish. I can see clock in the distance … It is ticking down ... 18:48... 18:49… I am running both as fast as I can while feeling like time has slowed down … 18:51… 18:52… OMG... is the finish line moving away from me… Vision gets blurry… I finally I cross! 
M3 - 5:58 (Don’t Fear the Five!
Last .14 (5:26 pace)

18:54 (6:05 pace)
5th Women
19 Overall
1st 40
Thanks to AnneMarie for being such an attentive Captain for us Master’s Aged Runners, she figured out that my time today qualified me to make the Clifton Road Runners “Wall of Honor” for runners who score over 80% as per the the WAVA Age-Graded calculations.     

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