race recap: run to the lights 5k 2016

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This past Friday, I kicked off my winter racing season.  This was the first of MANY races I have in the next 3 months.  My goal from November through February is to run less mileage, but focus on getting FASTER.  I’m really determined to not let my age or the fact that I’ve had 2 kiddos or even the thought that I might have already reached my peak hold me back.  I am determine to prove that I have MORE in me and that I CAN continue to get faster in my 30s.  I’ve definitely proven to myself that I can still PR tough races with my Rock ‘n’ Roll St. Louis half marathon last month.  Now, I want to prove to myself that more sub-20s are in my future.  Friday was just the beginning to proving myself of that…

img_5067This is the 4th year we’ve run that Run to the Lights 5K at Silver Dollar City.  The first year, I told Matt I would run with him since it was his first race back from a very long layoff from running.  The next year, I decided to race it and ended up winning the entire thing, which was completely surprising to me!  The following year, I was pregnant with Miles, so I again, ran with Matt (or really should say that Matt ran with me) and enjoyed every second, taking in the beautiful scenery of the Silver Dollar City lights.  And unfortunately, last year we were unable to run the race because Matt was in Jefferson City for Youth in Government, boo.

My goal this year was to go all out and see what I had in me.  While I really wanted to win the whole thing again, Matt gently reminded me that State XC was last weekend and that there would probably be A LOT of high school and college runners competing.  And let alone, when we arrived at the race, there were TONS of younger runners lining up to run the race.  I knew it was going to be a fast race and that I most likely wouldn’t win it.  Instead, I made it my goal to try to run my fastest 5K of the year with a sub-20:14 time and try to beat as many high schoolers as I could.

It was actually pretty much perfect weather, although it felt much colder than it really was outside.  I was also already exhausted – I had fallen asleep on the couch at our cabin around 8PM, and I was worried that there was no way I would wake up enough for the 10PM start.  But, that little nap might have been the best decision I made all day, since it helped me have a little more energy come race time.  We found a spot to drop our stuff and Matt forced me to get closer to the front as we waited for them to walk us up to the starting line.

The course is a hilly one, so I wanted to use the downhills and flat spots to gain some speed and bank some time in since I knew there was a HUGE, steep uphill at the end of the race.  I actually run much better on hilly courses, so I knew hills were to my advantage, but I knew that I didn’t want to relax too much on the flat spots.

I spent the first half mile FLYING downhill.  There were probably 50 people in front of me in the first mile – that’s the bad part about a downhill start.  EVERYONE is sprinting downhill.  Once we flattened out, it was tough for me get into a good rhythm for my running.  But, it definitely helped that there were so many people in front of me as I LOVE being able to chase people down.  I used the uphills to my advantage and tried to pick off at least 1 person on the hills.  Every other point in the race, I was always trying to make my way to the person in front of me and pass them.  I also had chosen a few high school girls at the beginning of the race to make sure I beat.  Yes, I’m THAT competitive…

There are a BUNCH of turn around points where you can see the runners in front of you.  I was trying to count as I went and knew there was at least 1 girl in front of me, and she was flying.  She was WAY up front with the guys, so I knew she was going to be pretty impossible to catch.  So, I made sure I focused on going as fast as I could, hoping for a really good time.

Once we turned back into the park (the first 2 miles are run through the parking lots), I was determined to pass as many people as I could.  Of course, I ended up getting behind 2 guys who just seemed to not get in a good position to let me pass them.  I finally was able to pass them before the big hill at the end and powered my way up.  I knew there were people very close behind me at the end and tried to finish strong, only to have 1 guy beat me right at the end.  Ugh.  And of course, when I looked down at my watch, I saw only my pace – 6:47/mile – which meant I ran slower than my last 5K in September.  However, my GPS didn’t click in until about a 1/2 mile in, so according to my watch, I didn’t even run 3 miles.  Luckily, they print out your results for you…

Official Time = 20:06
Average Pace = 6:29/mile
2nd in Age Group
3rd Overall Female

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I am absolutely THRILLED with my time!  This is my fastest time since March 2014, and on a very hilly course at that!  My next race is on Thanksgiving morning, and while the course is somewhat hilly, it’s not nearly as tough as this one.  Here’s to the sub-20 in the very near future!