Early this year, Coach made a note on my calendar to find a 5k in late January or early February. It worked out perfectly that I was planning to spend the first weekend in February visiting friends in Greenville and there was a small 5k on a flat (for Greenville) course. And since Greenville = little chance of sub-zero temps or snow/ice to deal with, I registered. Double bonus that it was only $25 (and free pictures!).
I looked forward to racing again and getting a benchmark for where my fitness is right now. I also hoped to get an official PR since the last 5k I ran wasn’t officially timed.
My flight arrived in Greenville Friday afternoon and I spent the afternoon and evening relaxing with my friend (and weekend host), Alicia. We cooked dinner at home, had a glass of wine and were in bed by 10.
The race didn’t start until 8:50, so I got up a little before 7 and left the house by 7:30. It was 28* when I got to the race site and started my warm-up. That should have felt balmy compared to the frigid temps in Chicago, but I was a bit chilly in my thin Lulu capris and Luxe Layer. I was dressed appropriately for a race in those temps but it took a while to get warm at an easy pace. I did 3 warm-up miles, then drills and strides on the football field near the start. I timed it so I could change into my racing flats and get down to the start area 5 min before the race was scheduled to begin. The 5k was to honor Gold and Blue Star military families and benefit local veterans services organizations. There was a touching opening ceremony but it went long which caused the race to start late. I definitely got cold after standing around in sweaty clothes for 15+ minutes.
About 9 a.m. they told us to head over to the “start”, which was a bit confusing because there was no start line or road markers. Everyone just walked to an imaginary line and stopped where someone said to wait. I knew then that the distance would likely be off. A minute later, the motorcycles zoomed off and there was a thumbs up from the race director. Aaaand everyone stood there, so the race director yelled “Go, go! That means go!” And we ran.
Most of the first mile was flat or downhill and per Coach’s instructions, I tried to settle in and feel like I was holding back. There was a group of about 5 girls that were all kind of leap frogging and one that eventually pulled pretty far out front. Mile 1: 6:39.
The second mile I pulled ahead of all of the girls except the one out front and just tried to hold a steady pace. Most that mile was completely flat except one small up and down near the end. I was starting to feel like I was holding a tough pace, but I wasn’t dying yet. Mile 2: 6:34.
After 1.5, I was supposed to push and make it hurt. It wasn’t hard to make it hurt at that point because the first 3/4 of the 3rd mile was uphill. I spent most of the mile trying to work the pace down from the 7:09 that I saw when I was going up the hill at the beginning. I was also reeling in the girl out front and spectators were telling me to catch her. She was probably 50 m in front of me in the last 1/2 mile, but I was running out of space.
I was able to get the pace back into the 6:xx range though and then when I realized that the course was going to be short, I kicked as hard as I could. Mile 3 (2.94): 6:32 avg.
Official time: 19:26
It is wishful thinking that I would be so far under 20:00 for an actual 3.1 miles. My watch showed that it was .16 short. Others had that it was only .12 short. Either my Garmin was off or I ran tangents better? The pace translates into right around 20:27, for the official distance which would be almost a 20 second PR. I am happy with this performance, but also wish it was “official”.
I went straight back to my car to change my shoes and get in as much of the remaining mileage that I had for the day before the awards ceremony. I slowly ran 4 more miles and then went back over for awards. Once again, it was delayed and took longer than I expected, but after about 45 minutes, I got my award, and finished the remaining 4.5ish miles. I ended up just shy of 15 on the day and felt pretty good, despite the effort of the 5k.