I was SUPER nervous leading up to this race.  Last year, I was the overall winner of the race – as in, I beat EVERYONE.  So, I already had some high expectations for myself.  In addition, this would be my first 5K of the year and the first chance I would get to see how my training was paying off.  I’ve never worked with a coach before this, so I had really BIG GOALS for this race as well.

I emailed Coach Jasmin earlier in the week about race strategy.  She is AMAZING – not only did she give me a great race strategy, she also sent me a little pep talk about mental toughness to help get me mentally prepared for the race.  Racing for me is about half physical, half mental.  I do a really good job of talking myself out of a lot of things.  I almost think I would prefer her to be my in-person coach instead of my online coach so she could yell at me during the race!  Maybe next time, I’ll just have to Facetime her! Ha!

I spent the week thinking about my goal time and telling myself that I could hit a time of 19:30.  Phew.  I said it.  19:30.  That was the BIG GOAL for this race – the time I have been working toward all year so far.  My PR currently sits at a 19:50, a time I ran 4 years ago (almost to the day).  So, taking 20+ seconds off my PR when I haven’t even broken 20 in 3 years seemed a little crazy.  But, I KNEW it was possible, especially with the work I’ve been putting in lately.

I arrived at the race about 45 minutes before start time.  I parked a mile away and ran to the starting line, where I had a chance to chat with my running buddy Abe and old friend from high school, Vicki.  It’s always nice to know a few people at a race to sort of take your mind off the race a little bit.  After chatting for a few minutes, I went ahead and got a good dynamic warm-up in before heading to the starting line.

I really love this race, but I get soooo frustrated when races don’t start on time.  We started about 10 minutes late, waiting for a shuttle, and allowing a bunch of people to talk.  It’s just a way for me to stand and get tight all over again and let me nerves take over a little more.  And the nerves were BAD today…

Once we did get started, my goal for the first mile was to STAY ON PACE.  I knew I needed to be running 6:16 per mile, so I needed to make sure I was either ON PACE or a little slower than that, and then speed up each mile.  But, I was struggling from the get-go.  I was all in my head, and the straightaway of the first ½ mile certainly didn’t help.  While I was excited about the out + back course, I was not thrilled with the rolling hills on the first mile.  My legs + lungs were burning from the get-go and I was desperately trying to get my pace under 6:30/mile.  And of course, my watch didn’t match up with the mile markers, making it mess with my head a little more.

I had a really good first mile, passing several people and made it my goal to catch up to the 2 guys in front of me on the 2nd mile.  But, after the turn around, I was struggling.  HARD.  Instead of positive affirmations in my head, I was just thinking about how everything on my body burned.  My legs.  My lungs.  My hips.  My obliques.  Nerves are horrible for me and give me terrible stomach issues on race day, leaving me with side stitches when I race.  It sucks.  So, I was frequently grabbing my sides, hoping to push past the hurt of my side stitch.  Just added to the mental toughness difficulties I was having to start with.

Thankfully, the last mile was almost ALL downhill toward the finish line.  I felt like I finally found my stride and the fact that there were walkers who kept me occupied the last mile.  And while I LOVE to chase (I never did catch the 2 guys in front of me), having a kid’s dad yell at him to start sprinting from behind me definitely helped me pick up my pace a bit.  I rounded to the corner toward the finish line and saw 19:40-something on the clock.  I knew I had to give it EVERYTHING I had in order to hit that PR…

And I missed it by a measly 2 seconds, running a 19:51.

TIME = 19:51
AVERAGE PACE = 6:23/mile
1st Overall Female

While it was definitely not the PR I was hoping for, the fact that I’ve taken almost 20 seconds off my 5K time in the past 6 months is amazing!  And that I broke 20 again after 3 years of trying, I know my training is paying off!  Now to register for ALL THE 5Ks to finally get that shiny new PR this year…