Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What a difference a month makes: St. Patrick's Day 8k

Exactly 4 weeks ago, I had my rust buster 5k, which I averaged 6:33 pace. It didn't feel great, and I was in the middle of a yucky stint in training. A week after, I finally got on track, and had 3 weeks of very consistent, near-perfect training. I was ready and excited for my 8k today. Sarah told me to aim for somewhere between 6:30-6:25 pace. Part of me was a bit dubious: a month ago, I couldn't even average that in my 5k. But, as I reflected on some pretty good runs, I decided I needed to just go for it.
Spring ahead! Really, on race day, I had to lose an hour? Oh well. I actually got a pretty good night's sleep for spa change and even woke up before my alarm. Always a good sign. The weather was absolutely gorgeous: sunny, low 40s and no wind. Perfect perfect. And the race was close enough to my apartment that I could run there and have that serve as my warmup. I made a friend (someone else running to the race) and we ran most of the way together. Still amazing how that world of running can just open up so many conversations. It served as a nice distraction, and before I knew it, it was time to toe the line. I positioned myself in the fifth row. I knew our local Olympian Clare Hallisey was there, as well as a few Olympic trials qualifiers and it was my hope that I could just hitch on behind them and go. Looking at last year's results, I was aiming to come in between the top 20-30 women.
I came through the first mile in 6:20, which was too fast, but I've come to expect that. It doesn't freak me out anymore, and it just means I pull back in mile 2. And that is exactly what I did, getting through it in about 6:30. I was feeling good, and while it was a fast pace, and faster than my workouts, I was hanging on fine. There were a lot of people around me, and I was using them as motivation. Yeah, it is nice to be up in front and place really high, but it is much harder/lonely. You end up doing much more work. But that was not the case. I felt myself holding back a little, and I knew I would start aiming to pass people at mile 3, with a second kick at mile 4. And that's exactly what I did, slowly picking off person by person and moving up. The final mile (well, .97) was hard, and there is a point when you can see the finish from far away. But before you get there, you go around a block, and then back to the finish stretch. It definitely plays with your mind. At this point, I had been getting closer to another girl, but could not catch her. I didn't care: there was only so hard I could push at that point. As I was getting closer to the finish line, I could see the clock in the 31:50s ticking. I was hauling ass, and the announcer even said, "Is she going to make it?! She's so close!"
Woooo! 6:26 pace and right where our plan had been. Yes, that was my 10k pr pace too, but this is still early in the spring season.
20/2214 women
120/3772 overall
I came in the top 20 women and the fact that some of women ahead of me were elite runners...I will take 20 just to be within shouting distance to them. It was a beautiful day for a spring race and a great confidence booster. Yes, 2013 started off slowly, and with some bumps, but I am in a groove now! Last month, I pushed to run 6:33 pace for a 5k, and I ran this month faster in a longer race. These things take time, and I look forward to getting in some more races this spring.

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