I knew a while ago that the running club was putting together a women's team for a 5K this weekend, and I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing about joining them. I knew I was going to be burned out and tired and still recovering from Gansett, but I was so tempted to go out there and run a short, fast race - something I haven't done since the Super 5K in February.
I finally decided to go for it, and signed up Thursday night, and I am so, so glad that I did.
I found the other team members at the start, including a friend I've run with several times, and who's always slightly ahead of me at most races. She was looking for someone who was running approximately a 7-minute first mile, and that was about the pace I figured I'd be at, but I told her I didn't know if I'd be able to keep that up for the entire 3.1.
We stuck together for mile 1, and although we ran the first 1/4 mile a bit too fast, we quickly slowed down and finished the first mile in just over 7 minutes.
I could tell, though, that she wasn't letting up, and as much as I wanted to keep up with her, I told her I was going to back off. I wasn't looking for a PR today, and I wanted to have some sense of enjoying the race, instead of feeling like I wanted to die. And on top of that, since I'm still awaiting PT and chiropractic help for my left leg, I figured playing it a little safe was the way to go.
So I watched her take off, and decided my new goal was just to keep her in my sight. That, I thought, was doable. I was still working hard, but I wasn't leaving it all on the course, and I was fine with that.
I was also running without music. I've honestly gotten so sick of my running playlist, I just wanted a break from it. And it was pretty fun to hear the sounds all around me, instead of just tuning everything out - something I think I'll definitely do more often for shorter races.
Mile 2 beeped at 7:02, and I felt pretty good.
I've never done this race before, so didn't know the course, but was happy to find that it was nice and flat and fast, with some nice stretches running by the ocean, including the final mile.
I was getting tired, but I managed to pick up the pace just a little bit, finishing mile 3 in 6:57, and the final .1 at a 6:42 pace.
It was really refreshing to finish a 5K and feel like I still had some energy left. Normally if I felt that way, I'd be mad at myself for not pushing harder. But this time, I was glad I had held back. I still finished just 30 seconds off my PR, and more importantly, I enjoyed myself, and didn't ask too much of my still-not-completely-recovered legs.
And it was incredibly motivating to find that, even though my last few runs have felt terrible, sluggish, and slow, my legs haven't forgotten how to run fast. As I was slogging through my last 5-miler at barely an 8:35 pace, I couldn't imagine how I'd ever be able to run 7-minute miles again. So reassuring to put yourself to the test, and find that you passed!
And of course now I'm really anxious to get back to track workouts and tempo runs, so that the next time I run a 5K, I can try for a new PR, and start chipping away at those 39 seconds and work on my goal of going under 21 minutes.
Not jumping into that just yet, though - I'm going to give myself another week or two of easy runs, and hope that they feel better than the last two weeks have.
The numbers from yesterday -
22:07, 7:07 pace
8 of 88 in my age group
119 of 722 overall