In 2007, I ran the Super 5K for the first time, finishing in 26:58.
In 2008, I ran the race again, finishing in 23:30 (what a difference a year makes!!!)
In 2009, I ran the race a third time, with a goal of finishing in under 23 minutes. I didn't quite make it, though, finishing in 23:11.
I knew this year would be my year. Despite the injury setbacks I've dealt with, I've been running faster than ever, and I've been feeling so confident that I'd come in under 23 minutes in this race. Every run leading up to this past weekend only bolstered my confidence, and I couldn't wait for the day of the race to finally arrive.
Then it did arrive, and with it, a whole boatload of nerves. And doubt. The confidence I'd been feeling for nearly 2 months seemed to have completely evaporated when I woke up Sunday morning.
I worked really hard to get it back, though, and kept myself busy all morning, so that I wouldn't have too much time to just be sitting around being nervous.
One thing that helped me feel a little better was that after having some of the crappiest weather ever for all of January and this first week of February, we ended up with absolutely perfect weather on Sunday - temp was up in the low 40s, and it was sunny and dry.
I got to the race site with just enough time to pick up my number and do a quick warmup, and then got lined up near the front of the pack. I was bound and determined to NOT go out too fast for this race, but I did want to stay near the front, since I was planning on a fairly fast pace.
I was aiming for 7:20 per mile, and although I did have some sub-7:00s show up on the Garmin during the first half mile, I was able to reel myself in and slow down a bit.
As it turns out, I slowed down a little more than planned. When I came to the 1-mile marker, there was a volunteer calling out the time, and as I ran past, he yelled 7:40. I have to admit, I panicked a little when I heard that, and started to pick up the pace immediately.
I was nervous that I had gone a full 20 seconds over my goal pace, but still feeling like I could pull this off. And I convinced myself that it was better that I had held back a little at the beginning, because hopefully that would mean I'd have enough energy left to make up that time at the end.
The doubts were trying to creep back into my thoughts, but I kept giving myself little pep talks and trying to stay positive, reminding myself of how well all my training runs had been going, and how perfect the conditions were.
The end of the first mile is the only uphill on the course, and it's not even that bad, but I was glad it was over. The first half of mile 2 is totally flat, and I was doing well maintaining about a 7:15 pace. Then we got to go back down the small hill, and I took full advantage and got down below 7:00 for about a quarter of a mile, and finished mile 2 in 7:11, which definitely turned my spirits around a bit, and helped to keep the doubts at bay.
I may have been feeling a little better mentally, but physically, I was dying. Mile 2 had been hard, but mile 3 truly sucked.
It was totally flat, and we were running back along the ocean, and I knew there was only a mile left, but I wanted so badly to be done.
But I was keeping a close eye on my Garmin, and I knew that I still had a really good shot at meeting my goal, so I kept pushing myself. I didn't want to charge ahead too soon, but I also knew I couldn't go much slower than 7:10 or 7:15.
Knowing how close I was definitely motivated me, and my split for mile 3 was 7:04!!!!!
I also saw that I had hit 22 minutes, though, and I was running all out - as fast as I could possibly go. Or so I thought.
Then I turned the final corner and saw 22:40 on the clock, and that's when I really and truly ran as fast as I possibly could. There was no way I was going to come that close and then blow it.
And I didn't. I crossed the finish line with the clock reading 22:51!! Nine seconds to spare!
Huge, huge runner's high ensued, and even though I felt like collapsing, I also felt like I was floating. Such a good feeling to achieve something you've wanted for so long.
In addition to finally getting my sub-23, it was also a new PR by 20 seconds.
I was 7 out of 38 in my age group, which I'm extremely proud of, since this is a really competitive race - just about all the running clubs in the state have at least a few members running, and there are some really, really fast runners out there. The top three women in my age group all finished in less than 21 minutes!
So now I've set the bar really, really high for myself! I know I won't run every 5K that fast, though. But I'm really glad that I did it this time!
Final stats -
22:51 - 7:22 pace
7 out of 38 in my age group
24th female overall (!!!)
103 out of 326 overall
Happy runner, indeed : )