When does a 7-second PR in a 5K not make you happy?
When you had hoped (and expected) something more along the lines of a 20-second PR.
I went into the Roger Schonning 5K Wednesday night thinking that I should really be able to run approximately a 6:50 pace, which would put me at just over a 21-minute finish. Based on my track workouts recently, that seemed totally doable, and I was nervous about whether or not I could actually pull it off, but confident, too.
Maybe too confident. I ran the first mile in 6:38. I always run the first mile too fast, but that was ridiculous! It didn't help that the race started with a long downhill stretch.
I knew that pace wouldn't last, but figured if I could hold just under 7-minute miles for the last 2 miles, it would even out to 6:50s, and I'd still meet my goal.
It was wonderfully dry weather, and it felt nice and comfortable standing around at the start, but as soon as we started moving, it felt much, much warmer. Not brutally hot, but warm enough to make miles 2 and 3 feel uncomfortable.
Luckily the course was mostly flat, with just a few rolling hills. But those small hills, plus the warmth, plus the waaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy too fast first mile, added up to me slowing down to 6:53 for mile 2.
It also added up to me wishing it was a 2-mile race. I was done.
This is the point where I stopped looking at my Garmin. I didn't want to know how fast or slow I was running. I knew I was giving it everything I had, and it would either be good enough, or it wouldn't.
I also didn't want to see that last mile inching by in impossibly slow increments. I just wanted to run and get it over with.
As we headed back toward the finish, there was one final hill to get up, but I knew the finish line was just around the corner, so I dug in and made it up without slowing too much.
It was a small race, so there was no chip timing, and when I crossed the finish line, the clock read 21:25 (a 6:53 pace). But apparently, another 6 seconds elapsed between that point and when my time was recorded, because my official time is listed as 21:31 (a 6:56 pace).
Either way, it was a great effort, and either way, it was a PR, and second place in my age group. But I can't shake the feeling that I should have been able to run faster.
I could come up with lots of different excuses for why I didn't - I took Carmine for a 12-mile bike ride that morning (super slow, easy spin, which I don't even really count as a workout, but maybe I should have); I run better in the morning, because that's when I'm used to running; it was warmer than I thought it was going to be - but the bottom line is that I just didn't have it in me.
But I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I know my official time is a 6:56 pace, but I consider it a 6:53 pace - that's what my Garmin said, and that's what the clock read when my feet crossed that finish line. And to be able to run 3.1 miles at a 6:53 pace is pretty awesome.
What's also awesome is that my 5K times have made some pretty serious progress over the past few years:
In 2007, my PR was 26:58.
In 2008, 23:30.
In 2009, 23:11.
In 2010, post-baby, back up to 23:50.
But in 2011, back down to 22:20.
And this year, down to 21:31.
Hopefully later this year, that first number will be a 20. But if not, I know I'll get there next year. Sometimes it takes a little longer than you hoped, but the hard work always pays off.
21:31, 6:56 pace
2nd place age-group award
5th female overall
26 of 128 overall