I hate to wish the days away, but oh my god, am I ready for winter to be over! And it's not even about running in the cold - it's EVERYTHING about the cold. I'm done, done, done.
One of the nice things about training for a spring marathon, though, is that it does serve as a nice distraction during these dreary winter days - and as you work toward race day, every workout and every run gets you one step closer to your goal, and also one step closer to spring.
This weekend I stepped away from the long-term goal for a bit, though, opting to skip my long run in favor of running a local 5K. It's the running club's race, and it's a fun one, and yes, I could have done my long run and then just run the 5K for fun. But anyone who knows anything about me knows that I am not very good at running races 'just for fun.'
And maybe skipping the long run wasn't the best idea, but I did it anyway. And I'm pretty certain that skipping one long run out of 17 isn't going to negatively affect my performance in Boston in any way, so I'm not losing any sleep over it.
It was pretty chilly on Sunday, and as I warmed up along the 5K course, I noted the strong headwind that we'd be running into for the last mile. But, even though I was planning to put in a race effort, I wasn't looking to PR - just wanted to give it my all and also try to have some fun - so the wind didn't concern me all that much. It would make things tough, but it was only for a mile, and as I tell myself in every race - you can do anything for just one mile.
This is one of the more popular races in town, and it's always fun to see friends and acquaintances out on the course and at the post-race festivities. And, of course, nice to have people to chat with as you wait for the race to start.
This course was used by the Jingle Bell 5K in December (usually run on the beach, but relocated this year due to damage from Hurricane Sandy), and is where I set my new sub-21-minute PR (woohoo!), and I know the route well - and I knew I was in danger of going out too fast, so I was determined to work really hard to not do that this time.
And I'm astonished to report that I finally succeededt! I don't know that I really had a choice, though, because my legs felt like lead - the 7:01 pace I ran for that first mile felt kind of tough, to be perfectly honest - despite the fact that the wind was at our back, and that stretch of road is flat as a pancake.
I couldn't quite figure out why I felt so sluggish, especially since I had done a very adequate 2-mile warmup. I was doing ok, though, and although I was glad I hadn't gone out too fast in the first mile, when I saw the 7:01, I was a tiny bit worried that maybe I had actually gone out too slow! So I did work on picking up the pace a bit, and passed a handful of people as we rounded the corner and headed out to the turnaround point.
It wasn't until the halfway point that I finally felt like I had fallen into a good rhythm. I was now down to a pace in the low 6:50s, which is more where I had expected to be, and I was working hard, but feeling ok (mile 2 ended up coming in at 6:50).
Then we got the nice little downhill stretch, and turned the corner to head back along the ocean, and I picked it up a bit more and stopped looking at my watch. I'd do what I always do now for the last mile of a race - don't pay attention to the watch, run my heart out, and see where it gets me.
As it turned out, it got me a 6:45 pace, for an overall 21:30 finish. Not a PR, but not a disappointment by any stretch of the imagination. To pull off a 6:56 pace at a 5K in the midst of marathon training is fine by me. And I was tired, for sure, but that slower first mile saved me from feeling like I was ready to die during the last mile, which was a welcome change.
After a 3-mile cooldown, I joined everyone for the awards, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that I had won third place in my age group! This is a really competitive race, with some very speedy runners, and I never thought I'd be fast enough to win anything, so I'm more thrilled with this age-group award than any other that I've ever won.
Since I basically ran 3 miles of speedwork yesterday, I ran some easy recovery miles today (such a treat to just go out and run a nice, easy pace), will do my tempo run Wednesday, and then it's back to the long run this weekend.
By the numbers:
61 of 268 overall
3rd place age-group award
It was nice to have a little break this weekend, and it was a fun race, so I'm happy with my decision to abandon the training plan for one day.