Yesterday I did want us runner-type people tend to do, which is to use the holiday (July 4th) as a reason to get up at 4:40 AM, fumble around in the dark for my running gear, drive an hour, stand for another hour in cold(ish) drizzle, wait for a loud horn to go off, and then attempt to run 3.1 miles as fast as I could. It’s been so long since I’ve raced a 5k that I honestly had forgotten what it should feel like, and goodness knows I have no clue what I would even consider a 5k PR at this point. I mean, hey, if you can’t remember your PR, you’re guaranteed to run a new one, right?
I chose this particular race because I wanted a low key entry back into the world of shorter distance racing (said the half marathon girl), and I love races in Indy as they are notoriously flat. This was actually a biathalon with the option to only run the 5k, and it was fun watching everyone set up their fancy bikes in the transition area as I waited to start. It was a small race, that started and ended at a brewery. Need I say more?
It’s hard to try to recap the race for you in that blow-by-blow kind of a way. It went like this: I tried to run fast, the last mile hurt more than the first two. I forgot how long a 5k can feel, but only because I expect it to feel short after all the 13.1 mile slogs. Truth be told, racing shorter is not easy! I tried to relax into it for the first half mile because, man, the adrenaline rush I got from the start was a serious kick. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that in a race before. The guys in front of me went out at some subsonic speed and I got caught up in the excitement. The race started later than expected, so by the time we got rolling it had been almost a full hour since my warm-up, i.e. my legs needed to catch up with my head.
When it was all said and done, I finished in 20:50 (6:42 average pace), and while can’t give you a catalog of past 5k times, I can assure you that this is my PR. Going into the race I had loosely decided that I would be ecstatic to break 21:00, and break it, I did. I also managed to score myself a first place finish among the overall female runners, which I dutifully celebrated over a basket of waffle fries while watching the cyclists start to roll in. Sadly, this is the only picture I have as proof of the race and my victory:
The most important thing about this race for me was realizing that racing more often will make me a more comfortable and better racer, and I also think racing more shorter distance races will go a long way in increasing my speed. I enjoyed having a pack of super speedy guys in front of me. It was that whole dangling carrot phenomena, or that whole running-with-faster-than-me people thing. The other perk of preparing to race a 5k was not feeling as stressed about pre-race preparations as I do for longer races. There wasn’t quite as much anxiety over, say, using the porta potty, or making sure I achieved the perfect pre-race fuel the night before. Not saying I had eye-watering hot curry or anything, but I figured I could hold on for 3 miles with just about anything. All in all, I’m glad for the fun experience and excited to sprinkle more of the shorter races into my training.