Subtitle: The Time I Ran the Best Race of My Life!
Saturday was the 4th and final race of the Frostbite Series. I hadn’t really thought much about the race all week – to me, it was just like any other training week and I honestly forgot I had a race several times throughout the week. But, as Friday approached, I started thinking about what time I wanted to run. I really haven’t been concerned about my place during the series – except for the 2-mile race – because it is so competitive, I just want to push myself and see if I can get some decent times in the middle of winter.
It’s always hard for me to have a race strategy for a 5K. Typically, I want to have a conservative start and then get faster throughout the race. And that usually works perfectly for me. There’s a little time to make up for any errors in the beginning, and it’s not like a half marathon where if you go out TOO fast, you basically blow up at the end. And no one wants that. So, strategy was just to race like I normally do – start up near the starting line, let a few people get in front of me, but not too far ahead and make up time as I go.
I also had a goal time of a 19:30 for the 3-mile. I had to ask Coach Hubby (yes, Matt “coaches” me – well, he answers my personal training questions that I have) what a good time would be for a 3-mile, given my goal 5K time of 19:45. I’ve been training for a 20-minute flat 5K based on my last race, so he suggested the 19:30 goal for the 3-mile. I thought that was doable – fast, but doable.
I was super nervous at the starting line this race. I don’t know why this race more than the others – typically I’m always nervous, but this one had me much more anxious than the last 3 races. I got a really good warm-up in – luckily it was 60 degrees at the start, so I could spend the majority of the morning outside getting warmed up, instead of standing inside just trying to stay warm. (There’s a big difference between the 2.) But, standing at the starting line, I felt tight and just scared. This was my “telling” race – the one that was going to give me an idea if all the training I had put in was actually paying off.
I got a pretty good start out of the gate. I tried to find a comfortably fast pace, and for once, I didn’t get boxed in like I have in the past races. I kept my focus on the girls ahead of me and picked out 2 girls – the one who has won almost every race of the series so far (she’s a high schooler) and a girl I coach against (she’s a super fast 8th grader) – and just gradually made my way up to them.
Right before the first mile, there is a turn around to go back toward the start. Once I saw the first guy, I started looking to see where the first girl was. Turned out, I was sitting in 3rd, with the one 8th grade girl in front of me. I used the turn to my advantage to pull ahead of her and made it my goal to put some distance between her + me. The first place girl was already pulling ahead of me, so I decided to stick with a pack of guys who were keeping a great pace that I could keep up with.
I felt my watch buzz for the first mile and looked down and saw something I’ve never seen below – EVER. Not in middle school, not in my 2 years of high school track (where I set my mile PR), or even through my recreational-competitive running. I looked down and saw 5:59 for my first mile! Once I saw that, I didn’t care what happened the rest of the race. I just ran my fastest mile EVER! I could quit and still be happy!
But, I was determined to see what I had left in me. I knew I didn’t have 2 more sub-6 miles in me, so I knew it was going to be a positive split race for sure. But, I decided to do what I could to keep my last 2 miles UNDER 6:30 – I knew it wasn’t going to be easy or feel good, but I wanted to see what I had left in me. The race conditions were perfect (except I was stupid and wore a long sleeve fleece shirt) and the course was mostly flat – perfect conditions to see if I had a PR in me.
The last 2 miles were pretty much a blur because all I could think of was running a 5:59 and how it was the best race of my life – and I hadn’t even finished yet! I stayed with the same pack of guys and was actually able to pass some in the last mile. The last mile was the same as the 4-mile course (minus the wind), so I knew it was going to be more mentally tough than physical. Especially the last part of the race leading up to the finish line.
I looked down at my watch with 0.35 left and knew I had just a little left in me. I was starting to get tired, my sides were starting to hurt, and keeping the pace was getting more and more difficult. But, I did what I could to push through it. If I didn’t have a “kick” at the end, I was going to be OK with that.
I rounded the corner at the finish line and saw a number I definitely DID NOT expect to see. I was expecting to see a 19, but instead saw an 18… and some change. I knew at that point that I was going to smash my goal of a 19:30 and run a sub-19 for a 3-mile!
Time = 18:49
Average Pace = 6:13/mile
2nd Overall Female
1st in Age Group (30-34)
I ended the series with a “perfect score” of 150 points (50 points for each 1st place finish, minus your lowest score), taking 1st place in my age group (30-34) for the series!
But, I think the thing that I am most excited about is that I am FASTER than I’ve EVER been! And I’m feeling SUPER confident in my running! I’ve been training smarter than ever, and I’m logging less miles than ever too. I’m hitting my splits and I’m seeing the results! Plus, I’m pushing myself more than I ever have. I tend to give up once something gets too tough, but I’ve been so determined to achieve this goal – and it feels SO good to see that when I train smart and push myself out of my comfort zone, I CAN do great things!
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