I woke up this morning, tired and groggy. My parents got into town last night a few hours later than I had hoped, so my sleep was a little lacking. Luckily, I woke up a little bit as I ran to the race and did my warmup.
I did my usual pre-race scan. Look around for the competition. Who's it gonna be? Who are the fast guys? Who do I have to watch out for? I picked out five people that looked like they could give me a run for my money. They looked fast. Really fast. I was right about four of them.
They called us to the starting line. The national anthem never played, which I thought was kind of strange. I like hearing it before a race, it gets me focused. Oh well. No big deal.
Runners set. HHHOOOONNNKKKKK (air horn)!
Off we go.
I stuck with the lead pack for the first half a block or so. They looked fast, but my fitness is nothing to cough at either. Oh? Garmin says we're running 4:45 pace?
Time to back off. That's not happening today.
I pulled back a little bit. The lead pack pulled away, and there was nobody even close behind me. I'm still feeling pretty good. The pace is challenging, but manageable. Mile 1: 5:43.
For this next part of the race I was all alone. The lead pack had secured a significant gap, and nobody was very close behind me. This was me vs. myself. Nobody to push me except the voice that knew sub 18 was possible. At the mile and a half mark or so, we had the turnaround since this was a straight out and back course. I love an out and back race, since I get to cheer for people I know, and get some support in return. The way back was downhill, too, which was nice! Mile 2: 5:50.
During the last mile I was, surprisingly, still passing people going in the other direction. Mostly just walkers, some kids sprinting until they were tired, then gasping for air and doing it again. There were a few people smoking, which added a nice twist to the oxygen my lungs were so desperately craving. The end of this mile was pretty painful, but I still feel like I could have pushed harder. Mile 3: 5:37.
Finally, the end was in site. I saw my mom taking pictures from the side of the road, but a smile wasn't happening. I was focused. The picture she took isn't pretty, but it definitely shows I'm giving it all I got.
Avg HR: 184 bpm
Overall: 5th out of ??? (couple hundred?)
Age Group: 1st
All in all, I'm happy with what this race tells me. I'm in good shape, even better than I had thought a few days ago. Only 20 seconds off my PR back when I was training hard as ever back in July, despite taking 3 months off this winter. I still felt like I could have pushed harder. My average heart rate wasn't as high as it usually is for a 5k, and I just didn't feel as spent as usual at the end.
Everybody I knew got an award today. I got 1st in my age group. My dad got 3rd in his. Treacy and Shannon from TNT both got age group awards too, and I had to pick up a medal for a friend who left early! It was great that everybody had such a successful day, we got some pictures of all of us, too, which I'll be posting in a few days.
Even though it was a great race, I'm hungry for more. I'm capable of better. I have a PR waiting in the near future, if I can find another 5k that fits into my schedule. For now, though, it's back to training. Even if I'm capable of better, training is going to help me improve more than racing will.
Next up is the Splash & Dash (500yd swim / 5k run) in late March. I hope they're ready for me, because I'll be ready for them!