June 6, 2012

National Running Day and Race Recap: 4theWounded 5k

Yep, it's National Running Day. Yep, I celebrated by sleeping in and skipping my run this morning. Yep, I'll be making up for that by running extra tonight. Yep, I'm kind of dreading it. Yep, my legs have been hurting a lot (again) lately. Nope, I don't want to talk about it.
So instead, I'm celebrating the holiday by recapping this weekend's race, one that I'm rather glad is behind me. It was pretty brutal from start to finish, so I don't feel like reliving it in too much detail. Let's make this short and sweet, shall we?

The Good Things:
 -- The weather. Perfection: cool and cloudy with just enough of a breeze to keep you from overheating.
 -- The company. Dan ran this one too and most of his family walked as well. It was nice to have my hubby right there at the starting line!
 -- The race details. As per usual with this racing company, everything from packet pick-up to the finish line was super well-organized, and the volunteers were excellent. I never stop at water stations during a race this short, but at mile 2 the lady holding a big cup of water towards me might as well have been an angel straight from race heaven. 
 -- The end. I have never been so glad to see that timing mat fly under my feet.
 -- The result. Despite all the negative, I still managed to PR and hit a goal time that I am super-pleased with -- 21:37.5 also meant a sub-7:00 average pace, which makes me very happy. My 5k PR last fall was a 23:xx, about a month ago I ran a 22:xx, and I was more than ready to shave it down to a 21:xx. Although I have a feeling that from here it gets much harder to cut...
 -- The post-run... run. After a little time to cool down, I had recovered enough to continue my mileage for the day. I headed over to my favorite spot and cranked out another 6 miles, which were glorious compared to those first 3.14.

The Bad Things:
 -- The start. This time, I wanted to be right up front -- I got stuck battling through a huge crowd during my last 5k, and that first half-mile killed my finishing time. The first part of this race was a great downhill and I lined up 2-3 people back to take full advantage. As soon as we took off, I knew that I was pushing way too hard and if I continued to keep up with the people around me, I'd end up serving as a very dead speedbump for the 900 runners behind me. I reeled it in fairly quickly, but my first half mile still clocked in at a frightening sub 6:00 pace. 
 -- The hills. After that "lovely" first downhill, the next mile was basically a long, slow UPhill. By the end of mile 1, my legs were absolutely done and I was honestly unsure that I could finish the race. When the course finally leveled off around 1.5, I pulled myself together, but then hit a series of short, steep hills (run UP the hill dying, go around the cone, come flying down the other side while already looking ahead to the next steep climb). By the time I got to the blissfully flat quarter mile stretch leading back to the finish line, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn't even enjoy it. I had just a tiny kick left in me, and I certainly gave that all I had, but I was pretty focused on just staying upright long enough to stop the damn clock.
 -- The mental game. Or, more specifically, the lack thereof... I think maybe it had stayed home in bed that morning. I have honestly never been so miserable during a race... I hadn't even finished the first mile before I seriously considered throwing my hands up and walking off the course. If I hadn't known so many people who were also running, I might have actually done that. I can run three miles in my sleep, but these particular three were some of the most awful miles I've ever covered... ever. 

The Best Thing:
 -- On the way back to my car, one of the volunteers stopped me to tell me she had seen me running. "You really have great form, you looked good out there," she told me twice during our short conversation, which was enough to keep me smiling for the rest of the day. Definitely what I needed to hear after such a tough race.

Happy National Running Day! I think we should all be greeted with cupcakes at the end of our runs today, right??



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