Monday, July 4, 2016

Reston Firecracker 5k

After spending 9 summers working at CTY, when I didn't really have a flexible schedule, I've been trying to take advantage of the fun summer activities available  e in DC when you're not responsible for hundreds of kids and faculty for seven weeks. One of the biggest joys has been to participate in some of the area's summer races 
I signed up for the Reston Firecracker 5k with a friend a couple of weeks ago, not totally sure of my fitness. I had had a great spring racing season, culminating in a second place finish at the 19k in early May. But after 5 hard races, I needed some low-key time for running, and frankly, time to focus getting some good writing in.

I was bummed when my friend couldn't do the race because she was sick, but since this would be the beginning of summer racing, I was still hoping for a good gauge of my fitness. Mercifully, like some sort of Fourth of July miracle, it was overcast and only about 68 degrees this morning. This is unheard of in July, and while such weather doesn't bode well for other kinds of Fourth of July activities like the beach, it was just perfect for racing. I was hoping to run somewhere between 20:00 and 20:30, knowing that the average first female time is under 17 minutes. I was hoping that instead of a small race where I'd be lucky to have someone running near me, I'd be with a larger pack and could pick off people.

We were off and running, and the first mile or so was pretty hilly, and so crowded that a couple of collisions happened near me. I ran through the first mile in about 6:32, so a little bit off of sub 20 pace. I realized that no matter what, I should try to pick up the pace. 5ks are uncomfortable at any pace, and I thought that I should just try gutting it out as much as possible. I started to speed up a little, particularly as we hit a small downhill, using that to ramp up my speed. I reached 2 miles around 13:00, so I was running a pretty even pace, but was actually picking off people. 

It is remarkable that the miles can really tick off during a long run, and even a run between an hour or two can go by relatively quickly. Conversely, I was trying to break things up minute by minute, and when I reached that two mile mark, was hoping that it just meant I had roughly 7 minutes left. I simultaneously was passing people, but was just trying to focus on knocking off another minute at a time. Going by people with confidence helped a lot, and distracted me from my tired legs.
5ks are always uncomfortable, and this proves it!

With about .2 to go, I was going uphill, trying to pick off a couple more people, and just willing for the seconds to go by. I was so happy to see the 3 mile mark, but at about 19:35, knew that sub 20 was way out of reach. 
I did my best to finish strong at 20:20 (6:34 pace)
14/781 of all women
5th in age group (first time in the 30-34 division!)

American Dream Way
This was a very competitive race, and so overall, I was pretty pleased with how I did. The female winner's time was 16:44, the second place finisher came in 20th in this year's Olympic Marathon Trials, and 12 women broke 20.
I had a great cool down on the W&OD trail - my favorite trail when we lived in Virginia. It was so nice and quiet, and still relatively cool out. I stopped at one point to take a picture of this bridge (so many great names in this area: Difficult Run, American Dream), etc. Wrapped up the day with 10 miles under my belt, it was a good way to start the holiday.
Overall, I was pleased with my performance and think it's a good indicator of some racing to come this summer!

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