Running a sub-27 5K has been on my mind for quite some time. I first wrote about wanting to run a faster 5K after the Chicago Marathon and before my sinus surgery last year. After the sinus surgery I had to basically start from scratch with running, but reset the goal again at the start of 2014.
I have been really pushing my training lately by adding hills and speed work to my weekday runs, but so far this spring 26:59 has been just out of reach. That all changed Saturday!
The morning is perfect. It is dry and cool, in the upper 50’s, and the course is flat and familiar. I know with summer approaching and the weather warming up quickly this might be my last chance to hit my goal time before Fall arrives.
I arrive at Carrier park determined to leave with the long awaited PR. I feel the focus and a mental toughness I am positive I need to push through the elusive time barrier I have been fighting for.
The race supports Girls on the Run, which is one of my favorite charities. I sign up and start my warm ups for the race.
After a few minutes, I line up at the start and probably look a little more serious than I normally do for a race. There is a group warm-up that I only half participate in because I don’t want to do anything different with my legs that could keep me from hitting my time. The start gun goes off and I take off.
The course goes partly around a bike track so I keep to the inner circle. I know that getting my time will be very very close and I don’t need to accidently run a longer distance on the outside of a circle.
I notice my watch in the 7 minute miles at points during the first quarter of a mile, but I quickly fall into a pattern of near 8:30 miles. I need the watch to say 8:39 or less the entire course and focus on getting those numbers.
I push my leg turnover and try to keep my breathing controlled as I need to save my energy for later in the race.
Mile 1: 8:36 – Perfect!
I notice some people around me slowing down, but I keep to my plan to push farther. The second mile of a 5K is often when I get distracted and struggle holding my time, so I focus and push. The course is an out and back at this point and I start seeing some of the front runners come around the corner. They inspire me to keep racing.
Mile 2: 8:48 – not quite!!!
My legs start to get heavy and I notice my pace slowing a few times. I bear down and keep saying my little race mottos… “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever”… and “There is going to be a day you can’t do this, today is NOT that day.”
With less than a half mile left the course takes a turn on a mulched path with a few small hills. I struggle to keep my time on the mulch. I eventually just decide to ignore my watch and just run.
Mile 3: 8:40 – Close enough!
The final tenths of a mile turn back on the bike track. I see that clock in the distance and it still says 26:xx and I have a chance. I need to run fast to make up a few seconds from the second mile. I know that if I push, I will have my time. The clock ticks closer to 27 minutes and I give it all I have pushing to the finish line.
Last .10: 7:34!!! – Super fast for me!!
I walk a few steps and stop my watch.
This is what I see….
I am heartbroken that I missed my goal time by just one second! As I walk it out I start thinking that it had to have taken me AT LEAST a second to stop my watch. I did not hit it until after I crossed the finish line.
So I enjoyed some race snacks…
Look at this killer pancake spread! There are even fresh berries!
I don’t think I’ve ever watched the people computing the race results so closely!
Eventually the race results were posted.
Pace, 8:40, GPS Watch course 3.12!
For so long running was about running farther and farther each race until I maxed out with the marathon. It is really fun to work at getting faster for a change! My hill work, speed training and breaking “status quo” really paid off and I am so proud that got my time. It feels great to make a challenging goal and figure out how to make it happen. Just a short while ago it was a big deal for me to break 30 minutes in a 5K!
I think it’s time now to give my legs some easy runs for a few weeks, but no matter what speed I take those miles, I’ll be soaring with running joy!
I'm sharing this post with the Race Recap Linkup!
Have you ever set a challenging goal and accomplished it?
How do you measure running success?