It was a hot day for racing at 10AM, especially compared to last year's pouring rain (I would have gladly taken rain yesterday). As I mentioned on Thursday, I didn't have high expectations for a PR given my lack of focused speed work since the Mississauga Marathon in May and Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon two weeks ago. I still decided to go for it and of course I'm glad I did!
Here's how it went down.
The race takes place just minutes from home at a local park where we run weekly. I love racing in familiar territory, especially at an event where most of the community is involved and many of my running buddies are also participating.
Hubs and I showed up about an hour early, just in time to see the 3K fun run. We met up with many of our friends and chatted away for a bit. I got some comments on my cheetah skirt and explained that I hoped it would help me channel some speed.
The sun was out in full force and it was already feeling very hot. We sought out some shade and sat down for a bit before it was time to warm-up. A few others joined in as we set out for a short jog and some strides. The sun did not feel good and it certainly wasn't an ideal morning for running/racing. What can you do? After a potty break, it was time to line up!
Hubs didn't sign up this year, but was going to pace me bandit-style (shhhh!) and jumped in about 200m into the race. And thank goodness he did! I got caught up in the crowd taking off and glanced down to see 4:00/km (6:26/mi) pace - Okay, reel it in!
Things were quickly under control with hubs by my side and we settled into the planned 4:30/KM pace. It still felt hard and I knew it was going to be a tough one.
The 1K marker came quickly, but not easily. Hubs told me later that he was concerned about how hard I was breathing so early. We made our way along the winding park paths, passing occasionally and being passed occasionally. Some friends were out on the course cheering and it was great to see them, even if all I could manage was a half-wave. I struggled to keep my feet moving as we passed the 2K marker.
It was hot and the sun showed no mercy. We enjoyed shade briefly here and there, but there wasn't much relief. My mouth was dry and I asked hubs to grab me a cup of water around the half way point. I tried to gulp some (mostly unsuccessfully) and dumped the rest on my head.
Around 3K there was a sharp 180-degree turn-around, which nearly killed me. We were forced to slow down so much to make the turn and it was extremely difficult to find my speed again. When the 3K marker came ~500m late, I had a moment of panic that the course would be long. For a brief instant I thought 'In that case, I'm out!' but I continued chasing my personal pacer who was pulling ahead as I slowed down.
Pump, pump, pump! Push, push, push! Huff, huff, huff! Run, run, run!
Hubs pointed out a couple of ladies ahead and I wanted to catch them, but my legs had nothing left to give. I finally gained on one and squeezed by as we rounded a bend and headed into the woods on a narrow section of boardwalk. Another lady stopped abruptly for a walk break right ahead of us, causing us to nearly topple over her, but at least I was able to pass her!
We were on our way to the finish and I could hear the crowd as we burst off the board walk. When I finally saw the finish line and rounded the last bend, I glanced down at my Garmin and knew it was going to be extremely close. I found a sprint and gunned it in as fast as my legs would carry me.
Damn, 5K's are hard!!!
Gun Time: 22:39
Chip Time: 22:35
I was pumped to win my age group for the third year in a row, but missed 3rd overall female by... well, nothing! We had identical chip times, but her gun time was 1 second faster. Bummer!
Thumbs up while waiting for the awards.
Posing with the mascot and race director.
During this morning's long run, my legs "gently" reminded me of the effort they had put forth the day before. The last 10K were a struggle, but as usual, good friends kept me company and helped me get it done.
24.5K = 15.2mi ... 2:22:34 ... 5:50/km = 9:21/mi